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4 Tips for Offline Map Access with Mobile Devices


From left to right: Nokia Maps, PDF Maps, Galileo

You can avoid most data-roaming charges by downloading a good Wi-Fi finder. But being out of range will render the Google Maps function on your Apple device useless.

To access offline maps you have a few options—besides, you know, carrying around an actual map.

1. Get a non-Apple phone or tablet. Google allows Android devices running 2.1 or higher to cache small area maps (a 10-mile radius around a dropped pin). Similarly, Nokia devices have access to offline maps through Nokia’s software.

2. If you’re attached to your iPhone or iPad, all is not lost. You can download an app that uses OpenStreetMap as a platform instead of Google Maps. Google’s mapping software is proprietary, which means outside developers aren’t allowed to write programs that play with the data. OpenStreetMap, on the other hand, is crowdsourced and open source. (Maps for remote locations may not be as detailed as Google Maps, but for populated areas and main roads, they’re fine.) Two good apps that use this platform and can cache selections for offline use are OffMaps 2 and Galileo. In both cases, maps are searchable, downloadable and have GPS tracking (GPS works even when data roaming is shut off).

3. Upload PDFs of your favorite maps to your mobile device using an app like Evernote that allows offline access to notes and files. You can simply view the attachments within your chosen app, or better yet, download PDF Maps. This handy app uploads PDFs from other sources with ease and saves them for offline use. It also has an impressive selection of downloadable maps, from free city-issued transit maps to elaborate topographic maps, priced per download.

4. Navigate to Nokia’s mobile site. Nokia has its own proprietary map platform to compete with Google Maps, but unlike Google, it has opened this service to outside devices. Not only does the mobile site include download capability for offline use, it has a very clean interface that, like Google Maps, pulls up relevant information about landmarks (say, the opening hours of the museum you’re looking for)

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