Save maps for offline use with MapTool Pro | webOS Nation

Save maps for offline use with MapTool Pro

by Adam Marks Mon, 13 Aug 2012 9:22 pm EDT

Map Tool CacheSearching and viewing maps on the go is an extremely useful aspects of owning a smartphone or tablet, but the stock Maps application has one really big limitation in that you need an active data connection in order to pull down the maps from the cloud. This means that if you are in a poor reception issue, are roaming where no network is available such as internationally, or just want to save your maps ahead of time to limit the data you need to download, you are pretty much out of luck There are some third-party mapping apps, like the homebrew Google Maps app, but these too require a data connection to download the latest maps with one exception: MapTool Pro, by MetaViewSoft.

MapTool Pro utilizes maps from the free OpenStreetMap community project on your device and offers an incredibly large number of unique features for a webOS mapping application, even including the ability utilize an external Bluetooth GPS receiver instead of your webOS device (which can be very handy for the TouchPad which does not have its own GPS chip). However, the feature that we are going to focus on today is the ability to cache/save maps for offline use. As stated above, not only will this allow you to access maps when you do not have any data connection, it will also speed up the map refresh rate when flying around the map because it does not require you to re-download the maps.

One great feature of the app when saving maps is that you are not limited to just one zoom level of maps to download. You can select multiple zoom levels, although there is one small limitation due to the OpenStreetMap caching rules that you can not download some of the highest zoom levels (levels 17-20 in the app). However, you can download any level from level 5 (which will give you half of North America on your phone and almost the entire United States on your TouchPad) to level 16 (about 1/3 of a mile across on your phone), but be careful because the larger the area and the more levels you save, the larger the download size.

To download the maps for future reference:

  1. Make sure that you have a data connection. This is obviously required for this step
  2. Zoom out to the mapping area that you will want to cache.
  3. Swipe down from the top-left to bring up the Application dropdown menu and select "Cache Area"
  4. On the "Map Tile Downloader" page, you can select the Zoom levels that you want to download, from your current zoom level to 16. So, if you zoomed out to level 11 to view all of New York City, you can choose to just download levels 13-15 to get the detailed maps you need.
  5. Press the "Start" button when ready and it will download all the maps.
  6. Press "Close" once it's complete

You have now saved those maps to your device.  However, before you go and download your maps, there are a few notes that you should be aware of when using the app:

  • While the app itself has "search" functions to search the map, this will not work if you do not have a data connection. You will still be able to pull up your cached maps, but you can't search them
  • There are a few app preferences that you should set by swiping down from the top-left and selecting "Preferences" including:
    • Renderer: for best results, choose Mapquest for roads and Hike&Bike for biking or walking
    • Multiple Map Folders is checked. This will separate the folders of where maps are stored for the different renderers.
  • When no network connection is available, be aware that it may take longer for you to get a GPS lock because you are not able to take advantage of your carrier's aGPS (assisted GPS) or the ability the triangulate your Wi-Fi location. Also, you will probably need to be outside with a direct view of the sky
  • In order to delete any cached maps, you will need to use a file manager app like Internalz or Gemini File Manager or connect your device to a computer and access USB mode. You will find the maps within the ".MapTool" folder and will need to manually delete them.

MapTool Pro is available in the webOS App Catalog for $2.49 and is compatible with all webOS devices running webOS 1.4.5 or higher

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