Unleash Your GPS With This Great Offline Navigation App

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MapFactorMapFactorIf you are a road warrior, you must know that one of the major problems when driving to new places is finding your actual location or the best route available to get to your destination. While there are a lot of mobile GPS Navigation apps, most of them are not free and require an active data connection to show the map of our current location in real-time. Fortunately there is MapFactor: GPS Navigation, a very capable free app that works using previously downloaded maps and your GPS to guide you through your journey.

The app’s main menu consists of six shortcuts that offer all the functionality you will need, although the ‘tools’, ‘map’ and ‘navigate’ are the ones you will use the most. There are 3 additional buttons at the bottom: Settings, Map Manager and Exit. In order to configure the app to your specific needs, the ‘settings’ button is the place to go. It contains all the options the app offers (vehicle profiles, the measure units, find points of interest and such), so make sure this is the first place you go before using the app.

MapFactor uses OpenStreetMap maps and downloads them directly to your phone memory through the ‘Map manager’. All the maps are free and the list is really long; they can take from a few megabytes to several hundred depending on the places (states or countries) you need to cover. Although downloading maps can be considered an annoying task by some people, this kind of approach lets the app to work completely offline once you hit the road, so it is ideal for users that do not have a 3G connection or find themselves driving through remote routes with very limited or null mobile data coverage. It is a clever way to avoid those expensive roaming data rates, too. Another benefit is that you can perform a smooth international routing without switching to a less detailed map once you cross into another country.

Selecting your starting and destination points is an easy task, just go to the map, tap on any desired location and then tap on the flag with a ‘S’ letter located at the top. The same goes for your destination, although you have to hit the checkered flag instead.  Once you have set your starting and destination locations, you can use the ‘tools’ menu to calculate the best route available, simulate it, calculate the ETA, or activate the odometer. You can set the map to rotate in your driving direction (dynamic), or north up (static).

MapFactorWhile navigating, the app shows 3 slots at the bottom of the screen; each can show different information and you can choose among 15 different options ranging from your current altitude, to the time to the next maneuver, your current speed, or the distance left to your destination, among others.

OpenStreetMap’s data is updated monthly, and its advanced features allow you to trace your own route using different routing modes such as pedestrian, bicycle, truck, bus or car. For this last one, the application incorporates a practical option for radars / speed cameras detection, so it will warn with an audible alert whenever you approach one. Also, as with other major GPS navigation apps, MapFactor gives you the ability to display the maps in 2D or 3D, different compass options, a special ‘night mode’ to prevent the screen to dazzle you when driving at night, and voice guiding among other great features.

Ultimately, MapFactor: GPS Navigation is an amazing navigation tool that will save you a lot of money and trouble if you are the kind of person that drives a lot, whether it is for leisure or living. Even though the OpenStreetMap maps MapFactor uses are not as detailed or eye-candy as Google's, they are accurate and get the job done. The app is available for any device running Android 2.3 and up. The download size varies depending on your device, but it lies between 9 to 11.5 MB and will take around 13 MB once installed. The app is ad-supported, but the only time you will see them is while downloading maps, so it is a fair deal.

 

MapFactor: GPS Navigation — Free Mobile App of the Week

For Android
Size: 9 to 11.5 MB
Download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mapfactor.navigator

 

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Comments

I have been using MapFactor Navigator on a Samsung SM-T310 (8" Android tablet) for about 10 months. When I first installed it, the version current at that time had stability problems; it was prone to freezing, and the only way to get it running again was to force-kill it via the Apps Settings menu or Task Manager. A couple of months ago, it auto-updated to version 1.2.50, which seems to have (mostly) solved the stability problems.

What I like about Navigator:
1. It uses off-line maps, so it runs well on devices that have WiFi only, and the maps are free (if you opt for Open Street Maps).
2. Relatively simple user interface, it isn't too difficult to figure out how to use and configure the app, assuming you have some familiarity with GPS in general.
3. Downloading maps is very easy. The user interface for downloading maps and map updates is the easiest to use of all of the GPS Apps that I've tried. Best of all, you can batch download as many maps as you want: just select them from the menu, start the download, and you can walk away and let the download run unattended. Other GPS Apps that I've tried don't have this Batch capability: you have to d/l maps one state, province, or region at a time. Open Street Maps are totally free, and available for almost every country on Earth where there are roads and motor vehicles to drive on them, whereas if you buy a Garmin Nuvi, it probably only has maps for the country where you purchased it; if you are taking a vacation to somewhere else, you will have to pay Garmin a hefty sum to get maps for that country.
4. The route you are following is clearly delineated on the map with a very thick green line that can't be mistaken for anything else on the map.
5. There are Voice prompts to warn you of upcoming turns; this can be disabled by turning the volume down to zero.
6. There are also speed limit warnings, both visible and audio, if the OSM map you are currently using has speed limit data embedded in it.

What I don't like about Navigator:
7. If you are playing music on your device, there doesn't appear to be any way to disable Navigator's Voice Prompts while still allowing the music to play.
8. The Voice Prompts and turn directions are sometimes flat out wrong: for example, "Left Turn in 500 yards" when your route is to take a Right turn. I don't know if this is a bug in the OSM Map or in the Navigator App. Bottom line is you can't blindly follow this (or any) GPS - you have to review the route it is proposing to take you on and make sure that it's taking you where you actually want to go, on using the routing you want.
9. There are three routing algorithms: Fastest, Shortest Distance, and Cheapest. Again, YOU have to use your own judgement and review the proposed route. This is probably the weakest and most error prone part of the Open Street Map system. A given route may or may not be either the Fastest or Shortest possible, especially if the destination is in a remote area involving long distances on secondary or tertiary road networks.
10. If you are used to using a Garmin GPS, like a Nuvi or Street Pilot, or a TomTom, or Magellan GPS, the user interface of MapFactor Navigator is completely different from those other GPS's, and the learning curve is pretty steep.

Is Map Factor Navigator a fully capable replacement for a dedicated Auto-Routing GPS like a Garmin Nuvi or TomTom? Probably not, but if you already own a 7"~10" Android Tablet, or even a Smartphone, the software and the maps are totally free, so even if Navigator isn't "perfect" and you decide to un-install it, at least it's no money lost for you. There is also a Windows version that you could run on a Laptop with a GPS dongle, like in an RV.

Also note that MapFactor Navigator is ONLY good for routing on established paved roads that are in the OSM Maps. If you are planning a hike or backpacking trip, there are other Android GPS apps better suited for those activities, but good off-pavement trail maps that work with them are much harder to come by. When I am hiking, I use a Garmin 60CX or Oregon 600. I have not yet found an Android GPS mapping app that has good enough USA/Canada trail maps for wilderness hiking.

I contacted their support. They said they woud look into it, and it downloaded shortly after. Not sure what they did, but I got now.

Keith

Anyone else having trouble downloading the Canada map? I can download Washington state (where I travel a lot) but not Canada (where I live). It is a large download, so I left it running over night, but even after several hours, it still is sitting at "initializing download" with 0 MB of data transferred. I also tried it on different WIFI to see if that would make a difference, but no such luck.

Any insights?

Keith

Sometimes downloading maps in Navigator is quick and trouble-free, other times it's slow, or doesn't work at all. If the download won't even start, try re-booting your device, restarting Navigator, and restarting the download. If it's still buggy after a full re-boot, the problem lies with the OSM Servers and there's nothing you can do about it except try again later or the next day.

Hi - I initially had a problem downloading, my wifi connection to my router kept disconnecting.

I took the cell phone and placed it very close to the wireless router, put it on charge, put it onto airplane mode (my data allotment is low - 250MB), activated wifi and downloaded canada and new york state maps. It then went through surprisingly quickly.

I don't know if there is another way to do it on the cell phone other than through the Navigator program itself.

I read from the program that maps could be downloaded from the www.mapfactor.com website but I couldn't find them. Also I wasn't sure once downloaded, how I would copy them properly to the cell phone.

I have used this app for over a year. It has taken me round UK, France and Sardinia without a problem. It does take a while to get used to the search function. It isn't as flash as paid for Sat Nav apps, but does what it says on the tin. You can upgrade for £20 to TomTom Maps that show road signs, but at times these can be so large as to obscure the maps. The OSM maps upgrade for free frequently.

If you look at the free sat nav apps on Play Store you will see one called Navfree. This is a smarter looking option and links in to Google Street, so you can 'see' where you will end up. On my Nexus 4, however,it overheats which is not good. It also uses OSM Maps, but they don't update as frequently as Map Factor.

I keep trying both, but always end up using Map Factor. Is really good for a free sat nav up

I also tried NavFree USA. In the end I decided to go with Map Factor. NavFree made me download maps one State at a time, whereas MapFactor lets me batch download all of the USA Western States and Canada maps at a single go. NavFree seemed to have fewer stability problems than MapFactor, but that wasn't enough incentive to offset the laborious one-map-at-a-time downloading.

Dreadful app. It wouldn't recognize cities in Massachusetts beyond those beginning with "C," and, unless I wanted to drive in Tajekistan, it's a miserable distraction from google.

I've been looking for something like this. Appreciate the tip.