If this fine weather makes you head for the great outdoors, like me, then you have probably already discovered this excellent app. If not, head down to the iTunes App Store and try it out.
The best thing about it is that the basic version is fully useable, and completely FREE! The free app comes complete with full Ordnance Survey maps of the whole of Great Britain on 1:1m and 1:250K (road atlas) mapping free, plus a massive database of every name and feature on these maps – basically, if it’s on an OS map you can look it up and find it. This is all thanks to OS’s decision to make its basic digital maps available free to software developers. If you want accurate mapping, especially off-road, forget Google Maps and get this (Google shows a railway station just up the road from our office that closed in 1962 – there’s not a trace of it left!).
If you need more detailed maps, 1:50K Landranger maps and 1:25K Explorer national parks maps are £12.99 extra, which is still excellent value compared with other digital map suppliers.
The maps are stored on your iPhone/iPod Touch, so you don’t need a phone signal to use them, and of course they make full use of the iPhone’s GPS capability. The built-in compass and bearing display makes this an ideal tool for walkers. A word of warning though: beware the dreaded battery drain! If you want to rely on your iPhone for emergency phone calls, don’t use it as your primary map and navigation tool all day (in fact, if you're hill walking don't use it as your primary anything - make sure you have good old fashioned printed map and compass too!). Turning off 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will help to conserve battery life. Turning on Airplane mode is best while using the map by itself, but you’ll need to turn it off when you want to use GPS.
You can also plot routes and store them on your iPhone, or download routes in the standard GPX format from sites such as EveryTrail.
I'm just using the free version as a road atlas and to give me handy, instant maps while I'm out walking locally. I'm not going to take it into the mountains, but it's still one of the most useful apps on my iPhone at the moment.
About Nigel Harris
I'm a partner with Burton Sweet, chartered accountants & business advisers, and run the Shepton Mallet office down in beautiful Somerset. Despite the name, Shepton Mallet is actually the home of Glastonbury Festival! I trained in audit and corporate tax with Grant Thornton and came to my current position in 1991 via small local practices and a stint with a training consortium.
I have the distinction of being one of the original members of the AccountingWEB editorial team, having been a freelance writer here for a year or so before John Stockdyk joined!