Maps Me is quickly becoming the go-to offline app / maps app for travel. We’ve been using the app since 2015 and it quickly became a favorite for our offline mapping needs. In fact, we chose it as our favorite offline map in our post The Best Offline Mapping Tools for Cycle Touring.
In this Maps Me review, I will cover the main features of the application, why offline downloaded maps are essential for adventurers, and discuss some of the latest integrations the app has included as functionality.
While there are plenty of good offline and online maps apps, Maps Me stands out above the rest. There is clearly a reason why it has been downloaded over 100 million times and have over a 1 million ratings worldwide.
One of the main issues with map apps is the quality of the content on the detailed maps. Google maps and Bing have their own proprietary data, but Maps Me takes a more universal approach by using open source OpenStreetMap data. If you’re not familiar with OpenStreetMap, it’s community driven and completely open source.
The content is generated by map enthusiasts, GIS professionals, users, engineers, and anyone who feels passionate about contributing to a growing list of local knowledge. In 2017, Maps Me enabled a feature that allows users to use the build-in editor to contribute edits to OpenStreetMap data. Users have made over 1 million edits from all over the planet, averaging 3,500 contributions a day.
Since 2015, the Maps Me app has been open source and can even be found on GitHub (the most popular repository for sharing open source code). Essentially, this means there is a community of software developers working in conjunction on improving the application and the code to the app is not held or owned by a single entity.
The main benefit of using Maps Me is that the maps app is completely offline. This means you can download map data in a custom compressed formation that is updated 1 – 2 times per month. All of the maps are stored locally on your device so there is no need for an internet connection once you have downloaded the map.
This can be incredibly handy when you don’t have access to a cell tower, are traveling in a different country, use paper maps, or simply don’t want to be tethered to needing data. When we travel, we always preload the maps to our phones so we always have access to our location and local resources.
Not only are the maps covering typical foot and bicycle paths, or roads, but the data also includes hiking trails, often with names. We use Maps Me when backpacking, trail running, hiking, walking in a new city, and driving. This is a major advantage over online maps which are only as good as the data they’ve scanned themselves (Google Maps for example).
We used Maps Me during our visit to Corsica to help us find some beautiful trail runs that we otherwise would never have located.
An incredible feature of Maps Me is ability to search offline without being connect to the internet. The OpenStreetMap data enables users to search by name, address, categories, or coordinates. We use this feature often when traveling when we aren’t familiar with our surroundings.
Categories are especially helpful when needing to find something locally by proximity. For example, the closest pharmacy, ATM, or public transportation.
Maps Me incorporates the following categories: Lodging, Shops, Health, Transport, Finance, Food, Business, Education, Entertainment, and Attractions into the default search feature.
In January, 2017, Maps Me launched a new update that includes a smart search feature. The smart search enables the map app to understand misspellings and typos. Much like Google search Maps Me figures out exactly what we meant to say.
One of my previous gripes with Maps Me was that using it on a smartphone is ripe for typos. The buttons are so small that I often make a typo and didn’t realize it only to be left wondering why the app couldn’t find my location. Problem solved.
Additionally, you can now use the smart search to find accommodation by user rating and price filters. This can be incredibly helpful when you’re in a new location and need to find something last minute. Previously, we had to estimate the cost by the number of stars.
Turn by Turn Directions
Like the most popular navigation apps, Maps Me features turn by turn directions. I will be honest, the directions are not as solid as Google maps. The directions typically use the fastest route, not considering the hills, tolls, or traffic. However, there are some bonus features that keep me coming back.
First, it includes speed cameras on the navigation. This has saved us a couple times when driving in Spain where the automated speed cameras will get you, even if you just go a couple km over the speed limit. Trust me, I unfortunately know this all too well…
Second, and the main reason to use Maps Me is that there no need for data. If I travel outside my typical location or switch mode of transportation, I already have access to map my routes on the spot. I don’t need to reload a new map.
Lastly, the trail maps are some of the best I’ve seen on any app. We will often use a couple different mapping apps when we head out on a long trail run, just to be sure we’re staying on track. No matter where we are, Maps Me always displays accurate trail information and contains the largest quantity of trails over other mapping apps. This is especially helpful during winter hikes when the trail is off or your the first one breaking trail. It has come to the rescue countless times in the Seattle winter hiking season.
Maps Me has really cranked up the integrations since we started using it in 2015. It’s becoming more than just an offline mapping app.
Find a Hotel
As of 2016, you can find accommodations via an integration with Booking.com. This feature allows you to see user ratings, category of prices, type, and distance from your location.
Find a City Guide
One of the relatively new features is the ability to find local guides in specific cities. Think guided tours by locals. This feature can be booked online and appears to be competing with the similar feature in AirBnB.com.
Book an Uber
Sometimes you just don’t want to take public transportation. Maps Me has integrated the app with Uber so you can immediately hail a rideshare. The best part is that the estimated prices are displayed allowing a quick comparison of costs.
I love the newest overlay feature in Maps Me. I can quickly overlay the metro map with my current location, allowing me to plan my route. You will need Internet access for this feature.
Just like the public transportation, you can overlay traffic with your current map, though you’ll need to be connected to the Internet. Similar to Google Maps, the routes will display colors based on the density or flow of traffic. This is helpful when determining which move of transportation to take.
Things to Consider
You can easily drain your battery if constantly using the turn by turn feature. Maps Me will recognize when you don’t have the application active and will conserve battery consumption. Just be aware of this when you’re out hiking or without a recharge for several days.
Share Your Location
When traveling we often want to share our location so friends and family can find us. It’s simple to us the share feature and let others know where you’re located.
I love that Maps Me enables me to save bookmarks of my favorite locations for later reference. This is so helpful when wanting to share a location, or find a place I’ve visited before. You can also back up your bookmarks and load them on other devices.
Occasionally Jen will find an epic hike or trail run and want the exact route on our phones. You can import KML files from other sources and save them to Maps Me. So when out and about, you’ll be able to pull up the route and compare your location.
Maps Me Review Final Thoughts
By now, you must have figured that Maps Me is our standard go to offline mapping app. We use it for everything: driving, hiking, biking, and walking. I can’t imagine traveling without it and there is a reason it’s the most popular mapping app for both iOS and Android.