Smartphone apps

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Most modern smartphones can be used for GPS Navigation just by installing a couple of free apps.

GPS Navigation

GPS Navigation can be very useful for both Automotive (Driving) and Outdoors (Hiking/Backpacking/Canyoneering),

If you are unfamiliar with GPS technology, you may want to review the resources listed below:

Outdoor Navigation

There are a number of smartphone applications that can display Topo maps and may be useful for hiking/backpacking/canyoneering, if you are willing to bring your smartphone into those conditions. Some of them are compared below.

App name OS
Operating system
Cost Record tracks
Whether the app records GPS tracks
Import KML
Whether the app will overlay custom KML data on the map
Import GPX
Whether the app will overlay custom GPX data on the map
Guiding
compute distance/time left when following a track/route
Topo Maps
Type of topographic information that can be displayed on the map
Offline
How the app functions when no signal is available
POI Search
to be able to locate cities, addresses, peaks etc.
Navigation
turn by turn route computation
GoldStar4.png Gaia GPS (Android)
Gaia GPS (iOS)
Android/iOS $19.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes Caltopo USGS tiles supported by default. Supports CUSTOM vector maps (Gaia Topo), no support for Mapsforgemaps like Backcountry or Locus. Yes, very easy to use online and offline when map properly downloaded Links to Google Maps app
GoldStar4.png Locus Map Android Free/$7.48 Yes Yes Yes Yes Vector or raster, online and offline, supports many providers. Requires Ropewiki Explorer extension to enable CalTopo USGS tiles. Vector and/or raster maps (tiles are cached). Learn more with short tutorial Online and offline if with proper data Links to Google Maps app and other navigation apps.
Can also download and save route as track to be used offline.
GoldStar4.png BackCountry Navigator (free)
BackCountry Navigator (full)
Android Free/$11.99 Yes Yes Yes No Vector or raster, online and offline, supports several providers. CalTopo USGS tiles supported by default. Topo map data can be cached for offline usage
Google Earth Android Free No Yes, with KMLZ to Earth Explorer 3D photo-textured polygons Completely incapacitated
OsmAnd (free)
OsmAnd+ (full)
Android Free/$5.99 Yes No Yes No Vector or raster, several providers works offline with vector maps Online and offline with vector maps Online and offline with vector maps
My Tracks Android Free Yes, with automatic Google Drive sync No Shaded terrain with basic contour lines Maps can be cached using the separate Google Maps app, track recording works regardless
Topo Maps iOS $7.99 No Yes Yes USGS 7.5" Maps + Canada Natural Resources Maps One time download for each USGS 7.5" Quadrangle. Offline search for entries included in USGS meta data.

Automotive Navigation

There are a number of smartphone apps that provide street routing and turn by turn navigation, useful to get you to the trailhead and back home. Some of these apps will also display trails but not topo lines. The most popular apps are listed below.

App name OS
Operating system
Cost Navigation
turn by turn route computation
Offline
How the app functions when no signal is available
Download
How to download the offline maps
Import KML/GPX
Ability to import KML/GPX
GoldStar4.png Google Maps (Android)
Google Maps (iOS)
Android/iPhone Free Yes, mostly road navigation Full offline use is available since 2016, through the 'Offline' menu option Partial, can download small sections, not whole regions No
GoldStar4.png MAPS.ME (Android)
MAPS.ME (iOs)
Android/iPhone Free Yes, good for road and trail navigation Full offline use, it shows most major trails and can route through them! In app download, small areas and whole regions. imports KML tracks and waypoints
Here (Android)
Here (iOS)
Android/iOS Free Yes Free in app download
MapFactor Navigator (Android)
MapFactor Navigator (Windows)
Android/Windows Free Yes Free when downloading OpenStreet maps
$ when using TomTom maps
in app download