Well designed mapping software for your smartphone
There's plenty of ways to get mapping on the go these days but still not that many that offer OS mapping. Viewranger is a standalone mobile app that's not supported by a desktop program like Anquet and Memory Map but it's very powerful, and the new generation of smartphones make that less of an issue.
There's lots of ways to buy Viewranger. We originally had the Nokia 5800 handest pictured, which came preloaded with OS Landranger mapping for the whole of the UK. At £299 it's not a cheap option but you are getting a lot of mapping, and of course the main benefit of programs such as Viewranger over open source, API-based mapping is that the maps are local and don't need to be downloaded, meaning no phone connection or data bundle is necessary; good news when you're out in the wilds.
There's plenty of other options too. Map packs come in all shapes and sizes, from the whole of the UK at £150 down to regions at £35 a go, and other areas such as national parks. You can also buy a self-select bundle where you pick the bits of the UK you want; prices start at £20 for 11,000 square kilometres of 1:50,000 mapping, that's about seven Landranger maps.
Newest option is over-the-air downloading, which allows you to buy tokens and download the bits you need from your phone using a data bundle. Obviously this requires a data connection but once the tiles are downloaded they're on your phone for good, so you can grab the bits of map you need before you set out. Prices start at £14.99 for 8,000 square kilometers (five Landrangers). If you have an iPhone it's a similar deal: you can download the app for £14.99 with 8,000 square kilometres of OS 1:50,000 maps, or you can choose another country or scale.
Viewranger has lots of good features, especially on the Symbian platform which is the version they've been developing for longest. You can create routes on your phone (this is less fiddly than it sounds, especially on a smartphone with a big screen) or import GPX files that you've created elsewhere. You can follow those routes on Symbian (that functionality isn't yet available on Android or iPhone although it will feature on later versions). Viewranger will also track your progress and you can download the GPX track into other applications. There's a buddy beacon function (Symbian only, coming soon for iPhone and Android) which lets you upload your position so other people can see your location, either from a web browser or from another Viewranger-enabled phone. A trip computer screen gives you a rundown of your journey with distance covered and a number of other bike-computer-esue functions.
The interface is slick and fast on the refresh, and the iPhone version features pinch to zoom making navigating the map even easier. The Nokia 5800 handset we originally tried was good enough but we've just installed the software on a new HTC Desire and that really is slick, giving you a big visible map area coupled with an excellent GPS. The new Android software also allows you to get free OpenCycleMap tiles on the fly, which feature a level of detail similar to OS Explorer mapping. Great if you have a data connection where you are, and you can always fall back on the 1:250k road map (supplied with the software) if you don't have a signal. Viewranger caches tiles you've downloaded, so if you're unsure about coverage on the road you can always walk your way round the course beforehand. The big touch screen of the Desire also makes it much simpler to generate routes without going to your desktop computer.
So is it worth the investment? It is if you've got a smartphone with a nice big screen and you like your OS mapping. The maps certainly aren't as cheap as the likes of Anquet but the phone software is much better, good enough to stand alone without the need of a desktop app. The iPhone and Android versions aren't fully featured yet but even so there's lots to like about them, and they're only going to get better. The OpenCycleMap functionality adds to the appeal too.
Well designed mapping software for your smartphone, with plenty of good features being rolled out across the platforms.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Viewranger mobile OS mapping
Size tested: n/a
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I\\\'m testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with Ultegra 6700
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track