Posts Tagged ‘android’

Review of Avenza’s PDF Maps app for iPhone and iPad

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

openwith processing maptools

This app gets the job done: PDF Maps introduces a strongly played set of basic features and later versions promise to add more advanced features like layer visibility and feature attribute query. Professional cartographers can use the app to deliver custom cartography maps that leverage GPS to locate the map-reading customer with the magic blue dot. It’s certainly not an ArcPad, but it works on the iPad and you’ll find it fun to use (and the app price is right).

I quite enjoy Avenza’s new free PDF Maps iOS app, free and available now on the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad. I’ve been testing it for several months using both the beta and  final release versions. I’ve used the app in my neighborhood, on a cross country road trip, and we’ve been using it to ground truth maps at at my day job. I’ve created my own GeoPDFs and used those from USGS and Avenza.

Besides myself, I setup two non-cartographers with an iPad (3g  with gps) and several GeoPDFs depicting neighborhood-level street maps to field check in the Washington DC metro area. They were amazed at how easy it was to locate themselves on the map and make notes by dropping markers they bring back to the office for me to review. Because these particular maps include street labels, they don’t need to switch back and forth to Apple’s provided Google Maps app as they navigate.

The inaugural version is iOS only but the company has had requests for Android, Symbian, Blackberry and even Windows 7 Mobile. Expect an Android version next. Future iterations of the app may introduce a two-tiered, free-basic feature and pay advanced feature parellel versions, which seems reasonable to me. I’m also excited to see if a white-label version becomes available (much like the Flash SWF export out of Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator) that cartographers can use to brand the experience and pre-bundle their maps.

PDF Maps offers the following capabilities:
  • View and load your own custom cartography maps and view them with GPS location
  • Supports both Adobe/ESRI geospatial PDF maps and TerraGo/USGS GeoPDF® files.
  • Access and interact with saved maps without the need for a live network connection
  • Standard GSP app features: Plot way-points, enter attribute data and notes, measure distances and areas
  • Standard iOS interface: Quickly view, zoom and pan maps using gestures (pinch, drag and flick, double tap)
  • HD version for iPad same app as the basic version for iPhone, slightly reworked interface
  • Does not currently support waypoint export, a key feature
  • Does not currently support import of KML and GPX files

To create a GeoPDF, you’ll need ArcGIS 9.3.1+ to export from ArcMap with preserve coordinate system checked. Or use Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator (version 8.2+). You can also download thousands of GeoPDFs from USGS. Even though the USGS files use the TerraGo GeoPDF format specification (versus Adobe + ESRI’s), it will open and render in PDF Maps.app. Avenza also offers dozens of sample GeoPDFs linked from within the app to get you started (click Maps, then +, then From Avenza PDF Maps Library and browse the list).

Adding maps is as simple as dragging them to iTunes or attaching to an email (making it easy to send map updates to your field checker). Clicking on a PDF link on the iPhone or iPad now prompts to open in the app, as seen in the first screenshot above . Once opened in the PDF Maps app, it will take a few seconds to minutes to render, second screenshot above. Once open, several tools are available, the most important of which is simply the “locate me” triangle button on the map map view.

Even though it’s all about the PDF map you’re looking at, the app makes it convenient to open the same view in Maps.app to see Google’s version of reality for cross checking, especially using the satellite map tiles there. This is possible for both the current map view using the tools menu, and to open a specific waypoint marker after clicking it’s location field.

I’ve loaded PDFs with the app that are more than 10 mb of vectors and performance has been good. When the map first loads it will process and prepare several zoom levels of precached tiles. This will make panning and zooming faster during actual map use and is worth the wait.

During precache rendering, you can still use the map, but the parts that will still be loading will be fuzzy for a while. Very large maps (larger than 20 mb, or more than 2000 sq. inches) are slower to render in this version (hey, it’s a mobile phone). For larger areas, I’ve been splitting the exported map into separate files. When multiple maps loaded in, there is a Maps table of contents listing.

I found a couple continuing quirks with the app and one major missing feature. The app really needs to export the map’s waypoints as CSV, KML, and GPX as an email attachment. I wish repositioning an existing pin was easier. The hit areas on some buttons is small, making it hard to use in a moving car. Sometimes it’s nice to have multiple marker icon labels open, but sometimes that is odd. At any rate, there’s no way to close them all en mass.

Quick and dirty test GeoPDF files:
(using Natural Earth, US Census, and other draft data)

Note: Because of USGS website quirks, it is not possible to directly download a USGS GeoPDF onto your iPhone/iPad in the field. The website doesn’t render properly (something about IE and cookies), and the resulting download file is ZIP format rather than PDF. Not sure why, since the PDF should already be optimized for file size (there’s only a 1.5% file size savings between ZIP and PDF in the Washington D.C. West quad sheet).

Check out more screenshots:

GPS + MultiPlayer Game = Build digital fort in your back yard (Parallel Kingdom)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

screen-shot-2010-03-14-at-40901-pm

[Editor's note: Amusing take on RPGs mashed up with GPS on a Google Maps tile background. For iPhone and Android devices. Hey, isn't that Madison, Wisconsin?]

Republished from Parallel Kingdom.

Parallel Kingdom is a mobile location based massively multiplayer game that uses your GPS location to place you in a virtual world on top of the real world.

Read more on their site . . .

Going Native: Using the Google Maps API v3 in Smartphone applications (Killingsworth via Google)

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

[Editor's note: Cut down on development time using the new Google Maps API v3 but creating a single mobile version of your map that can also be wrapped inside a native application for the iPhone or Android.]

Republished from Google Geo Developers Blog.
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Over the last couple of years, my office has been working on using the Google Maps API to display the Missouri State University campus map. The map is used by campus faculty, staff, students, and visitors and includes buildings, parking and transit system information. Beginning this summer, we started work on incorporating live GPS tracking of our campus buses into the map. Both the idea and GPS application on the buses came from one of our computer science students who wanted more information on the campus transit system.

Using the Google Maps API v3, I was able to create a mobile version of our map for use on smartphones. After showing it to my users, one of the first responses I got was, “Are you going to make this available as an application?”. After spending many hours developing a feature-rich mobile web version, the thought of investing a large amount of time to code the same experience on multiple platforms was overwhelming. Then I began thinking of the maintenance headaches; even simple changes, such as adding a new sets of icons for custom markers, would be time consuming. All of a sudden the idea sounded much less appealing. I’d spent all this time on the mobile web version of my map, why couldn’t I just use that?

All Wrapped Up

So instead of writing the maps application using the SDK of each phone platform, I wrapped my v3 Maps API site into a WebView inside a stub application. Now all the work spent on the web version automatically applies to the “native” application and my users never even know the difference. The Google Maps API team have even provided some great reference articles for Android and iPhone which help get the process started.

Continue reading at Google Geo Developers Blog. . . .

‘Augmented reality’ fuses the Web and the world around you (Wash Post)

Friday, November 27th, 2009
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[Editor's note: Yelp and Wikitude apps are bringing annotated camera view to newer smartphone that have both GPS and compass built in.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Rob Pegoraro. Sunday, November 22, 2009

The cameras on some new phones don’t show the world as you’ve known it.

Instead of just viewing the usual landscape of people, places and things on their screens, you see circles, rectangles and icons floating on top of the scenery. Tap one to display a snippet of Internet data about whatever lies behind that tag. As you look around, the view on the phone’s display shifts accordingly, presenting new shortcuts to whatever the Web knows about your surroundings.

The concept goes by the name augmented reality, and it’s been quietly bringing one of the Internet’s hokiest promises to a mainstream audience.

Remember all the hype about virtual reality, in which we’d don headsets to immerse ourselves in some version of the Star Trek holodeck? Augmented reality turns this from a science-fiction idea into something you can experience just by holding a smartphone in front of you at eye level — no goofy goggles or helmets needed.

For that to happen, though, mobile phones had to acquire a few prerequisite capabilities: a fast Internet connection, a high-resolution screen, Global Positioning System reception and a compass. In other words, first the phone had to be able to look up things on the Internet, then it had to be able to show them to you, then it had to find itself on a map, then it had to orient itself in 3-D space.

As a result, “AR” programs didn’t begin to appear on consumer hardware until last year, and many otherwise brainy smartphones still cannot run them — for example, the original iPhone and iPhone 3G and Palm’s Pre and Pixi devices lack compasses.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Google details Maps Navigation for Android, iPhone (Electronista)

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

[Editor's note: As this YouTube video shows, Google's self-branded map navigation app for their Android series of phones includes some first-for-free features like natural voice search, turn-by-turn using a street view overlay, and instant rerouting. First for the 'droids, next for the iPhones.]

Republished from electronista.

Google today provided added details of the turn-by-turn mapping service found on the Motorola Droid. Google Maps Navigation adds many of the features that would normally exist in a dedicated GPS unit, such as a bird’s-eye view and spoken directions, but takes advantage of Google’s existing Maps features. Traffic is free in those areas where Google provides service, and Street View can show directions overlaid on top of in-location photos.

Search is naturally rolled into Navigation and lets drivers use voice or typed commands to navigate to a location by search criteria rather than a specific address. Long-distance travelers can launch a search in mid-drive and find just the points of interest close to the already planned route.

Google Maps Navigation ships first on the Droid as a beta but will be available for all Android 2.0 devices. The company also says it’s cooperating with Apple to bring the feature to the iPhone through its built-in Maps tool but hasn’t given a timetable for when it expects the feature to be ready.

The unveiling is a potential coup for Google. Although RIM’s BlackBerry line and most GPS-aware Nokia phones include company-made turn-by-turn apps, these either have limited functionality or require a paid subscription to work properly. Google Maps requires an active Internet connection to download map data but is otherwise free to use where most stand-alone apps, including for the iPhone, often carry a significant initial fee and often charge extra for future map updates.

Introducing Google Latitude (Google)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

[Editor's note: Google get's on board the social network geotagging, tweeting band wagon by unveiling Google Latitude for the iPhone, G1, Blackberry, and desktop computers. See your friends' location and status live on a Google Maps mashup. Privacy settings are buildt into the service so you can pick and choose what level of location detail is revealed per friend.]

Republished from Google.
Additional coverage from MacNN.
Original post Feb. 4, 2009.

With Google Latitude, you can:

  • See where your friends are and what they are up to
  • Quickly contact them with SMS, IM, or a phone call
  • Maintain complete control over your privacy

Enjoy Google Latitude on your phone, PC, or both.

From your mobile phone – View your friends’ locations and status messages and share yours with them.

From your computer – View your friends’ locations and status messages on a full screen even without a compatible phone or data plan. Click here to see your friends from your PC.

Google Latitude is a feature of Google Maps for mobile on these phones:

  • Android-powered devices, such as the T-Mobile G1
  • iPhone and iPod touch devices (coming soon)
  • most color BlackBerry devices
  • most Windows Mobile 5.0+ devices
  • most Symbian S60 devices (Nokia smartphones)
  • many Java-enabled (J2ME) mobile phones, such as Sony Ericsson devices (coming soon)

See demonstration videos and more at Google . . .