Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.
There’s no shortage of mapping and GPS apps for iOS, and in the fallout from Apple Maps’ disastrous launch last year, the spotlight was shone on a number of mapping alternatives. And Google Maps finally arrived on the scene too.
But one of the others ones out there, built on OpenStreetMap – the user-generated, collaborative project that’s striving to produce editable maps of the world – is Skobbler‘s ForeverMap, which we first looked at way back in March 2011.
In a nutshell, ForeverMap lets users input an address to receive a range of directions depending on their method of transportation; walking or driving. The map is able to follow your position using GPS, and it also has an offline mode giving you access to maps which are downloaded while you have a connection.
Now, Skobbler has launched ForeverMap 2 – essentially ForeverMap 3.0 sporting a different name – with a slew of new updates.
ForeverMap 2 for iOS follows its existing Android incarnation, which was relaunched last year after a short hiatus.
The new version taps Skobbler’s proprietary NGx map engine, which it calls the “most powerful and versatile digital map engine in the world.”
It features everything you’d expect from a mapping app, including points of interest, route calculations, location finder and more.
I initially thought you couldn’t search by postcode – but alas, you can. You just enter that in the city field, and voila. That could perhaps be a little clearer.
The main menu button lets you search within a 5km, 10km or 20km radius from your current location, and you can enter any keyword you like – it could be ‘park’ or ‘wine’ or, well, anything. Alternatively, you can search by ‘Category’, which includes ‘Food’, ‘Health’, ‘Leisure’ and so on.
You can also tweak the map settings for your preferences – into miles/yards, miles/feet, kilometers/meters and more.
Crucially, the maps are also available offline, with each map weighing in at an average of 200Mb or so.
Compared to the last version, you can now download the maps per country (or by state, if you’re in the US). Before, you could only download one large map of all of Europe or North America.
You can download entire countries, which is great for travelers. When you arrive at a new location, you establish a connection (either with 3G or WiFi), then you can find your way anywhere in the locale from that point, entirely offline.
It’s worth noting here, it doesn’t yet have turn-by-turn directions, which is really imperative for any true mapping app.
But ForeverMap 2 is more about the maps for the moment rather than true navigation per se – so you may also want to check out its other GPS Navigation app. And it’s for this reason that turn-by-turn won’t be arriving on ForeverMap 2 any time soon – it’ll likely arrive on the Android version though.
While the likes of Google Maps is pretty much indispensable where there’s a connection, it’s not so great with no connection. Offline routing capabilities is where ForeverMap 2 is striving to find a niche for itself, all for $0.99, though that’s with a launch discount of 66%.
Skobbler touts its NGx engine as the core strength of this new app – it’s the driving force. Using real-time rendering, offline maps are “infinitely browsable” and zoomable.
ForeverMap 2 is built upon Skobbler’s GeOS SDK, which has the NGx map engine at its core. It essentially enables both Web-based and mobile service providers to replace their current mapping with more features and functions. And it’s NGx that allows maps to be customizable, giving developers control over features such as online/offline functionality, map display (style and zoom), routing and more.
“Over the last year we’ve seen alternative mapping solutions lacking features that are essential to consumers,” says skobbler CTO Philipp Kandal.
“We know that modern users want one map that handles all of their needs, and we believe we’ve delivered this with a genuinely innovative hybrid solution based on the popular, rich and dynamic OpenStreetMap,” he continues.
So, with the new version of ForeverMap, what we have is a much slicker, faster app that ports pretty much all of the online features to offline. Certainly, if you’re prepared to place your trust in crowdsourced maps, you could do a lot worse than shelling out $0.99 (at launch).
Founded in 2008, Berlin-based Skobbler has notched up more than 3 million app downloads on iOS alone. With this latest launch, this figure will likely rise.
There are two versions of the new app, one for the US and one for ‘everywhere else’. Both are available to download now.
➤ ForeverMap 2, iOS – International Versions | US Version
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Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
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