The free Bike Hub smartphone app unofficially dubbed 'satnav for cyclists' is shortly to update with a useful A-to-A routing suggestion feature as well as operational improvements based on user feedback.
Road.cc has been following the first two years' progress here and here and here of the Bike Hub cyclists' smartphone GPS app which is funded and operated by the eponymous cycling advocacy body set up by UK bike manufacturers, distributors and dealers.
The app is based on the open-source Cyclestreets mapping platform and offers turn-by-turn directions for cyclists based on preference for fastest, quietest or shortest routes or even a 'balanced' version of all three. In this sense the GPS technology is utilised just like in a car or any other handheld device, except that the mapping updated by Cyclestreets contributors will endeavour to utilise any special cycling routes available and is programmed to acknowledge the severity of hills.
A new version 3.0 with a unique 'A-to-A' routing feature is due to be available "hopefully by Christmas" according to Carlton Reid, the app's champion at Bike Hub who goes on, "As far as we can tell, the new A to A routing feature is a world-first for a satnav app.
"The idea is to arrive at a destination, input your desired mileage into Bike Hub, add any points of interest you want to see along the way, tap ‘follow this route’ and," as Reid says, "off you go!"
"This will make the app into a tool for cycle tourists, for day tours and for longer duration trips," feels Reid. The app can currently plot a route of 200 miles.
Apart from the new route-suggestion feature, there are a couple or three improvements to the existing functionality based on feedback and the overall improvement in the data upon which the application is based.
First off there will be "dynamic route recalculation" which means that if you stray from the suggested route, the app will propose you make a u-turn but then if you carry on straying a bit further, the app will create a new route on the fly. This is a standard feature on car satnavs which is finally making it onto Bike Hub version 3.0 thanks to app coding work from developer Tinderhouse and routing tweaks by Cyclestreets.
Version 3.0 also makes the cross-hair icon a little bigger and shifts it left so that you no longer accidentally press ‘cancel’ when you really wanted to hit the ‘locate me’ button. There’s also "tighter integration with Cyclestreets," according to Carlton Reid, "with a box added where you can input a Cyclestreets journey number." This will be useful if you prefer to pre-plan your routes via desktop and then want to transfer the same route to your smartphone.
Finally, and the most requested feature according to Carlton Reid, is map cacheing which means map tiles can be downloaded to a smartphone when in range of wifi or a good 3G signal. Users will still require a phone signal to call down the route from Cyclestreets but maps – which can take a while to download in a poor signal area – can now be stored locally. As before, the app is free of charge.
Circular tours a feature of v3.0 of Bike Hub
Just key in the distance you want using familiar interface.
Options for sourcing routes in BIke Hub increasing.
You'll be able to download detailed maps, too.