/ Ordnance Survey launches new mapping app platform

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Only a hill - on 11 Jan 2013
http://blog.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/2013/01/were-so-excited-our-app-launched-yesterday/

The debate about paper vs. digital mapping continues to rage, with valid arguments being made on both sides--but the consensus is very firmly on the side of paper maps and traditional compass skills for serious use. However, the OS clearly knows where the winds are blowing. The population is adopting smartphones and tablets at a rapid rate, and I think it's inevitable that an increasing number of people will seek to use then in the hills.

So what do we all think about this development? I think the OS are to be applauded for creating what looks like a useful digital mapping tool, but I don't think this will change the emphasis on paper mapping for the foreseeable future (until flexible and waterproof phones become mainstream at least, which might take two or three years).
craigloon - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

Can you print from the app?
Only a hill - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to craigloon:
Not sure, but it would be handy. The OS has a great opportunity to make something really good here--let's hope they take full advantage of it!
MG - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill: OS Atlas is another option and I think cheaper. It is great for planning.
ralphio - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill: only on iphone from what i can see. Hopefully an android version will be following.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

They should be positioning themselves as a supplier of UK digital mapping information to people who make mapping apps such as ViewRanger/Google/Microsoft/Apple rather than trying to have their own app. They don't have the software and business skills or funding to win against pure play mapping app vendors and are limited to one country.

It would be more useful if they concentrated on improving their content to make use of the extra capabilities of an app as opposed to paper. For example at present the 1:25000 and 1:50000 fixed scales from paper maps get carried over into the digital maps. They could also provide a way of customising the information shown on the map e.g. lines which mark boundaries between government districts are useless and potentially confusing to a walker who might thing they were paths.
Bob_the_Builder - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> It would be more useful if they concentrated on improving their content to make use of the extra capabilities of an app as opposed to paper. For example at present the 1:25000 and 1:50000 fixed scales from paper maps get carried over into the digital maps. They could also provide a way of customising the information shown on the map e.g. lines which mark boundaries between government districts are useless and potentially confusing to a walker who might thing they were paths.

Good point. There's no way to compete against the international mapping people without a service that improves functionality drastically.

Though I can't see myself using a digital map in the near future, I haven't figured out how to make my smartphone battery last more than a day even when its sitting unused in my pocket...

Fredt on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

Does anyone know if the apps use GPS to put your position on a map?
Can't see any reference to this. That would be a Memory Map killer.
m0unt41n on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill: What really needs sorting out is the fact that you have to buy the same OS dataset each time for different mapping systems. The OS should sell the data and then mapping systems should use the same data set instead of forcing you to buy the same data but restructured to their database.

Not sure why there has not already been developed a mapping system which can read other systems databases, rather like Codecs for video players.
seaofdreams - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

its all about layers for me - i want to choose what data i see on a map because most OS sheets i use simply are not clear. at the moment there isnít a good public accessible method of doing this and it is very very simple.

for the average climber paper will/should still be the way forward for a time to come if simply because i can see more of the world around me. Trying to hold current obvious technology limitations aside the biggest real problem for device based map reading is the size of the screen which is defined by the size of a personís hand. that and user error.
Bob_the_Builder - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:

> the size of the screen which is defined by the size of a personís hand.

You mean you don't take your 27 inch iMac climbing with you? Madness!

Carolyn - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:

I very rarely use a paper map on the hill these days. For route planning, certainly (although increasingly I work from large PC screen and digital mapping), but on the day, I tend to have a good enough memory of the big picture to be able to work from small screen. Admittedly I'm mainly in reasonably familiar areas most of the time.

I still carry a paper map, but I don't think it's come out of my rucsac in the last year. And GPS only works well with good map interpretation skills, which I suspect is what's lacking in the many people who manage to be "lost" whilst able to give me a 10 figure grid reference.
Martin W on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to ralphio:
> (In reply to Only a hill) only on iphone from what i can see. Hopefully an android version will be following.

The web page says yes (read the first two comments).

OS Atlas, mentioned above, is available on Android now. It does allow caching of map tiles, and shows your current location on the map. It only goes down to 1:50,000, though - zoom in closer and it reverts to the "ZoomMap" style you can get on OS getamap, which is zero use away from urban areas.
captain paranoia - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

I think OS commercial customers might be a little peeved by this (the likes of Anquet, Viewranger, etc).

Then again, the OS are trying to charge £2.99 for a 10km square tile, which is rather pricey.

have downloaded the app, and the mapping looks pretty poor so far; overview mapping is washed out for some reason, and they appear to have rather poor image scaling that results in rather blurry 1:50k mapping at the 1:25k transition point. Poor resolution conversion algorithms, I suspect, given all the puff about 660dpi mapping.

I have much clearer mapping using Galileo on the iPad, and mapping imagery at lower resolution than 660dpi.

The app did ask me to turn on my Location settings, but, living up to my nom-de-net, I rarely do... This suggests that it may well auto-locate using GPS.

And I agree totally with m0unt41n; the fact that mapping is not transferable between apps is a disgrace, and always has been. The reason mapping is expensive is that you have to pay the OS licence. Since you've already paid that licence for one mapping app, you should be able to use that mapping on any app. That would encourage map tool innovation, just like with Internet browsers.
alan barnes - on 11 Jan 2013
I have the memory map app for android with 1:25 mapping on my phone for the areas I go most often . The maps are cheap, it works with no phone signal, shows my location on the map and I think if I am going to be carrying my phone with me anyway might as well make it as useful as it can be.
MtnGeekUK - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to alan r b:

+1 - that's exactly what I do too.

Turn on the GPS when I need a location fix and need confirmation (i.e. Cairngorm plateau in a whiteout)

One less thing to carry in the sack...
Indy - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill: would prefer OS to sort out the cost/licensing thing first.

OS is a government dept. hence is funded by the Tax payer SO why is mapping at 1/25k so crippling expensive for ordinary people like me?
due - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

70p for a 1:50k tile is OK I guess, however they have cannily divided up Snowdonia so that you need as many effing tiles as possible

I've been using this site for years and just printing my own maps:
http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm
Scott_vzr on 12 Jan 2013
There's plenty free 1;25k sites eg Walkhighlands.

There are also android apps that cache mapping and google earth images to then read off SD card when out of phone signal.
ads.ukclimbing.com
captain paranoia - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to due:

70p for a 10km tile may seem reasonable until you compare it with existing mapping systems, where the same data can be bought for about 11p...

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