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Offline Points of Interest on Android for International Travel

We travel a fair amount and need recommendations for solution when travelling out of the US (typically Europe and Pacific Rim, but Africa might be coming up)

Google Maps would suffice for our needs, but frankly the real problem is that data plans through AT&T are ridiculously expensive with miniscule data. Case in point, I'm gearing up for Australia / New Zealand. My wife is on AT&T US unlimited data plan, but for one month for only 800 MB of data they want $120 in Australia. Plus all kinds of fees.

But that is not the biggest problem. In reality, it's really difficult in iPhone to turn off data for all the other apps and only enable Gmaps (it's possible, but it often undoes itself and leaks data). So you rapidly use up your data, even if you only turn on the data at the start of a trip, start the nav, and turn it off immediately. I have Android, but it's a work phone and LTE is disabled out of the US. In the US we have no problem, both (or at least one) of our phones work almost everywhere and gmaps is fine.

So we've made it work, but on a 2 week trip you run out of data. You can't buy more, and there is no cutoff max, if you go over they charge you ridiculously and you can run up a massive bill quite quickly. It's a royal pain in the neck.

So ... I would like to get a solution for Android that has offline nav, mainly for driving and a little downtown walking (super accuracy not required). The big limitation I see is points of interest, I like to be able to type the name and just quickly start naving. This seems to be the weakness of all the offline map solutions. Spending a couple $100 on maps is not an issue, if we can save that mobile data.

Any recommendation of map databases for Android that have a broad set of points of interest? Restaurants, hotels, attractions, airports, stations etc. I know Gmaps offline maps just started with POI but I have not used this in real world yet, only tried it at home so I'm skeptical until proven otherwise.




Comments

  • t923347 403 Points
    edited June 2016
    The one Android app that comes to mind immediately would be HERE. The HERE app uses the same maps as the Garmin automotive GPS devices and all the available maps can be downloaded to your Android device or it's SD card. Once the maps are downloaded you can use this app for Navigation without using any of your Data Plan at all.

    Maps for this app cover most of the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, North and Central America, and South America.

    I can't speak for the quantity or quality of the POIs any other places except North America but for NA they are quite extensive much the same as those included in Garmin's automotive GPS devices. I'd assume that the same would hold true for other parts of the world. POI categories include Tours & Guides, Eat & Drink, Parking, Fuel, Banks & ATMS, Taxi Stands, Car Rentals, and Pharmacies.

    Also a key feature of the HERE application is that it totally FREE and the maps, at least for NA, seem to be updated frequently.

    The HERE app is available from Google Play at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.here.app.maps&hl=en
  • t923347 403 Points
    I should add that HERE has a pedestrian and a public transit mode, along with automobile guidance.
  • Boyd 1735 Points
    edited June 2016
    Garmin has the StreetPilot app that you could use on your iPhone. I used it in Europe a few years ago, and I use the North American version every day here. The maps and POI are stored on the phone so it can be used with no data connection (a couple things, like transit schedules in pedestrian mode) will give you a warning that they require a data connection.

    I also have AT&T and purchased one of their small international plans for my trip, so I was concerned that I might exceed the data limit. However, even with data enabled on my phone, the StreetPilot app used very little.

    The Garmin StreetPilot app is only available for iOS however, there is no Android version. AFAIK, they only offer the Western Europe and North American versions (they must be purchased separately).

    Garmin also offers the Navigon app (they purchased Navigon 6 or 7 years ago), it is available for Android as well as iOS and I believe they have versions for more countries than StreetPilot. I have the US version and it should work fine with locally stored maps (no data connection needed). I have not used this app very much since I prefer StreetPilot however.

    It sounds like the HERE app might work well for you though. Since it's free, no harm in checking it out. I tried it and didn't care for it personally. It only works with the phone in portrait mode - it doesn't switch to landscape mode when you rotate the phone. This was a deal breaker for me, because I have mounted my phone in the car in a spot where it must be in landscape mode. I also disliked the fact that there is no night mode. So for night time driving, you have a very bright map screen and a white background color for the menus. Aside from this, I just found the layout/design of the app unattractive. I'm sure many people wouldn't care about these issues though.

    I believe the mapping data/POI's for all these apps (StreetPilot, Navigon and HERE) is basically the same and is based on HERE's data. HERE is the company (I hate that name) that was formerly called Navteq.
  • t923347 403 Points
    The Android version of the HERE app has a Day, Night, Automatic Change setting.
  • Boyd 1735 Points
    Thanks - that is interesting, I didn't see that in the iPhone version a couple months ago. Maybe I just missed it, or maybe it was added later?
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