Author Topic: The IPad2 solution...What Do You Think?  (Read 16770 times)

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Offline bogiesan

Re: The IPad2 solution...What Do You Think?
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2011, 09:03:04 am »
You might want to visit some of the hundreds of dedicated iPad user forums. Start at, look for the discussions area, start searching carefully.

The iPad has tens of thousands of dedicated application developers and you should be able to find all of the information you need about available GPS apps by visiting the iTunes Store or the Apple Apps Store. However, and this is weird for Apple, the Apps Store hard to search and locating useful information is frustrating. For isntance, searching for "GPS for bicycle" turned up only 5 apps, three from Asia, and one that only gives you an elevation profile after you draw your route.

As a dedicated iPad use and fan I suggest you get one anyway; it's not an investment you will ever regret. But you shoudl be comfortable with the idea that you may never be using it on a bike tour for many reasons.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline drongobird

Re: The IPad2 solution...What Do You Think?
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2011, 10:19:05 pm »

Fred asked: "My other question is about the available maps. The article mentions several, which appear to be raster maps. How well do these handle zooming? If you load one to show enough detail for small roads, does it blur into uselessness when you zoom out to view a county, or does it drop detail like the vector maps that are made for purpose-made GPSRs?"

In the article I mentioned four map types, and the zooming depends on the map type. 

For OpenStreetMaps and OpenCycleMaps, go to or on your desktop machine to see how zooming is handled; it looks the same on the iPhone, Android, or iPad. 
Here is the Marin Headlands at zoom 15, you can zoom in and out from there:
These are vector maps.  OpenCycleMap supports ~17 zoom levels.  Both Gaia GPS and GPS Kit are great apps if you're using OpenCycleMap.  You can specify which zoom levels you want to download for offline use.  If you care about altitude lines (i.e. topo map) then you use the CycleMap view; if not, then you use the StreetMap (aka Mapnik) view.

Apps that display USGS topos generally only have one or two zoom levels, 1:24K (and sometimes 1:100K), but that is all you need for hiking and that map sources is generally not relevant for road biking.  These are raster maps.  Topo Maps is an exceptional app for USGS and NRCan maps.

For Satellite images, using Trail Maps by National Geographic you get bing hybrid maps.  It only includes one zoom level of Sat image and the resolution is good enough to easily see buildings, but making out individual cars is marginal.  When you zoom in and out it just magnifies the image, but does not replace it with a different source image.

For road maps in the US, I use ForeverMap by Skobbler, and zooming is just fine, with clarity at all zoom levels and more details shown at each successive zoom level.  These are vector maps. This app does rudimentary routing, nothing fancy.  When you download a map (you download one state at a time), it includes wiki entries, which is a nice feature.  I didn't study all the other options for road maps, so I don't know that this is the best app, but it's plenty good enough, and cheap too.

For cycle route maps, Maplets has many good cycle route maps.  But those maps have just one zoom level; think of it as an electronic version of a pdf printed map, except that your location is shown on the map.  It's a fantastic little app to use in conjunction with other apps, it has no bells or whistles, but it gives you the ability to find maps you didn't know existed, and when the maps are drawn to scale you can see your position on the map.  You can see which maps are available by searching for a location, or just search for the word cycle to get a sense for their current inventory:
If you know of a map (pdf or gif or whatever format) that they don't have, just request it and they will do their best to add it.

Unlike Boglesan, I wouldn't recommend trying to find good apps by browsing the iTunes store.  I have now evaluated 75 different mapping/gps apps, and have found fewer than a dozen that I think are worth using.  Some of them are pure crap.  Sometimes you can tell from the description in the store if the app will be useful, but not consistently.  I do agree that the iPad/iPhone user forums would be good places to get recommendations and opinions, and that the Apple Apps store is anemic if you're trying to find something.

If you're looking for iPad/iPhone apps, you can start with the list I've built, and go from there.  Please let me know of good mapping/gps apps that I've missed.


  • Guest
Re: The IPad2 solution...What Do You Think?
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2011, 10:45:13 pm »
Terrific! You have saved me--and no doubt many others--a lot of looking in the wrong places. Thank you!


Offline drongobird

Re: The IPad2 solution...What Do You Think?
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2011, 10:48:36 am »
Fred - I forgot to mention the free apps from UK's SusTrans and Bike Hub

Since my focus has been on tools for backpacking, I haven't played with these two apps to see whether their implementation is good enough to make them really useful.  If they did a good job with implementation, then they should be a terrific resource for cycling in the UK.