Sponsored App Review: Maps & Navigation — OsmAnd

May 17, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson

OsmAnd is an Android app that stands for “OSM Automated Navigation Directions” because the app relies on OpenStreeMap (OSM) maps and information. Much more than just a portal to this data, OsmAnd is an offline maps app that allows for turn-by-turn navigation without the need for data or anything like that, and with plugins for parking info, as well as Ski maps, Hill shade, Contour lines and even Nautical Maps, this is an app that has it all. Free to download and use, with a paid-for version available for those willing to get it all for a one-off payment, OsmAnd is worth taking a look at, especially if you’re fed up of using Google Maps or paying extra for data, so let’s see what it’s like to use, shall we?

First thing’s first, OsmAnd comes in two different versions, a free version that can be downloaded from the Play Store, or a paid version from the same place. The paid version helps fund further development and support the developers of the app. When you have app downloaded, you’ll need to go through an initial setup phase.

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As we can see, there are packages for all sorts of regions, and downloading them when starting to use the app means that you never have to connect to the Internet when out and about to download any further information; it’s all stored on your phone. Sadly, it doesn’t look like you can download these maps to your microSD card by default. Users that know what they’re doing can move the maps to their SD card and then change the path to them in the Settings of OsmAnd.

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Once you have the maps that you need installed on your device, you can go ahead and start using the app, including tapping the simple GPS icon, which will send you to where you are.

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I’m assuming that the area in green is for countries that you have downloaded and ready to use. Either way, zooming in using pinch-to-zoom works well, if not a little slowly. However, this could be down to the detail of the map, which is considerable.

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You can drop pins – as shown above – but pressing the menu button will reveal a wall of different options to choose from, which quickly goes to show how fully-featured this app is.

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This is something that a lot of people will enjoy seeing, as the more features an app has, the better. One of the main things that people will be using OsmAnd for is to get themselves from A to B, and there’s a fairly straightforward way to do that here.

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This might confuse some people, as it’s certainly a different way of inputting a destination than it is in Google Maps, but anyone that’s used a Sat Nav device or something similar will know what they’re doing, and it does of course work.

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As someone who has “a thing” for maps, OsmAnd certainly has a lot of detail in its maps, this much I can see from using the glorious landscape view while driving.

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As well as a detailed Map that will look familiar to anyone that’s used a road map before in their life, there’s a Satellite view, which might be more appropriate for our younger users.

OsmAnd Sat

There are also Map options, which allow users to change certain views as well as control what’s displayed as they’re driving.

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This is great for driving, as we’ve established, but there are some extra features to OsmAnd Maps, such as Nautical Maps and Cycling Routes.

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Users can also put together their own routes by using the GPX feature to record maps, which neatly lines up with the option to share your live trip data online with other people.

OsmAnd GPX

Of course, not everything is perfect here, things like the notification could have better information on display, for one example.

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Apps like these of course rely on their map data to be good or not, and thankfully siding with OpenStreetMap data gives OsmAnd a great backbone of Map Data to work with. In essence, OsAnd is the sort of app that just bundles all of the maps and potential of OpenStreetMap together and offers it up to people, but it is much more than that. It’s a useable app that drivers will be really familiar with thanks to its Sat Nav style interface and such, but beyond all of the POI information and route options for drivers, it has great features for pedestrians as well as cyclists and even those out on the water, which is something you just don’t see in other apps. It has a good-looking interface and the maps themselves all look great, too. While there’s certainly room for improvement, this is the sort of GPS and Maps app that a lot of users have been asking for. It works offline, is free to download and if users want to pay for the full version, they’ll get even more in return as a result.

Ratings

  • Speed (4/5) – It’s quick when using the online features, but I did find the offline maps were a little slow when zooming in and exploring at times.
  • Features (5/5) – Even if you go for the free option, OsmAnd has so much on offer that it’ll probably tick all of the right boxes that you want, and the paid version gives you the option to extend the functionality of the app even more.
  • Theme (4/5) – While the maps look great, the rest of the interface might not be what some users are used to. Having said that, road users familiar with Sat Nav devices will have no problem figuring out how to use the interface.
  • Overall (4/5) – A great alternative to Google Maps, this has all of the right boxes ticked and brings with it some excellent maps as well as features that you just don’t see elsewhere.

Pros

  • Works well on both smartphones as well as tablets, which isn’t something we can say of all Maps apps out there.
  • Doesn’t just focus on road users, as it has great uses for Hikers, Pedestrians, Cyclists and even those out on the seas.
  • Great quality maps make it easy to see where everything is and have a lot of detail to offer users as a result.
  • Lots of plugins available to further extend the usefulness of the app, while the offline maps make this a cost effective option as well.

Cons

  • Some of the UI elements might confuse users that are more used to the way Google Maps or other options do things.
  • Free version only allows for 7 downloads, while the paid version is expensive and doesn’t seem to offer any more features, just more downloads for maps as well as Wikipedia information, too.

Overall, OsmAnd is the sort of Android app that might surprise a lot of users, not least given the fact that the free version is very, very capable indeed. Offering users all sorts of maps as well as many a different use for them makes this one of the more versatile alternatives to Google Maps that’s out there. Even so, there’s room for improvement in the User Interface as well as in some of the performance of the apps. Well worth checking out, OsmAnd might be the OpenStreetMap app that you’ve been looking for.

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