Here are some of my most used GPS related apps. If you have other apps that use GPS, leave a comment in the box below, I love checking out new ones. These apps are available through the Apple App store and/or the Google Play store. Since I use an iPhone though, there may be a bias toward Apple friendly apps – I am in no way advocating the use of iPhone over Android though, they are both excellent ways to use GPS.
– Avenza PDF Maps (Free – Apple/Android)
An invaluable app that I use all the time. This app allows you to view georeferenced PDF maps with your GPS device turned on so you can pinpoint where you are and where you need to go. Very useful for travelling to new places or for field work, you can also create and upload your own georeferenced PDF maps. The transition from GIS to PDF map to smartphone/GPS integration is really seamless.
– MotionX GPS ($1.99 – iPhone only)
Really cheap way to create GPX files. This app is a Swiss Army knife, it has a ton of features on it. My favourite thing about it is the simplicity of data collection and exporting. It’s really easy to take waypoints/tracks, update their information and then share via email. The nice thing for me is that you don’t have to mess around with cables and software, just send the GPX files right to your email and then add to QGIS/ArcGIS and you’re good to go. We use this app for iPhone users who take our course.
– OsmAnd (Free – Android only)
Fantastic free app to collect and share GPX files. This app uses OpenStreetMap (OSM) data and allows you to upload your own GPX files as well. All map data can be stored to your phone for offline use making this a very important app for navigating in areas without data coverage. We use this app for Android users who take our course.
– Google Maps (Free – Apple/Android)
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Google makes awesome products, and there’s no reason not to use them. Free navigation, turn by turn driving directions, they even have bus routes and cycle routes. I use this as a replacement for Apple Maps on my iPhone (because I can’t stand using Apple Maps).
– Mapillary (Free – Apple/Android)
I love this app. These crazy guys from Sweden basically combined the Wikipedia model of a world-wide contribution source with Google street view. Crowd sourced images of the entire world, unlike Google Street View which is limited to streets (and the Google car), you can take this app everywhere: trails, on the water, on top of a mountain – just like zombo.com, the only limit, is yourself.
– CityMaps2Go ($2.99 – Apple/Android)
My favourite thing about this app is the offline capabilities. Download as many maps as you want and no matter if you have data or not, you’ll be able to locate yourself. They include “guides” for all sorts of places as well. These guides are basically just snippets of wikipedia articles, but it’s nice because you can see pictures and get a little info on nearby attractions before you go. Very useful when travelling.
– Google Earth (Free – Apple/Android)
Pretty impressive to have a full 3D globe at your disposal. One thing that’s really nice about Google Earth is the ability to view maps you have created on Maps Engine (also from google). Great for a quick view of an area, and useful for presentations as well. When you just need to show someone a map for reference sake, this is the go-to app.
– Find My iPhone (Free – iPhone only)
I wish this one wasn’t on this list, because it would mean I’ve never needed to use it. This app will find your iPhone based on it’s GPS signal and put it on a map. Lost your phone? Not (as much of ) a problem now. Sure it’s not perfect, I mean if someone steals your iPhone and shuts it off then you don’t really have much to go on, but when your phone goes missing, trust me, you’d rather have this as an option than kick yourself later because you were too lazy to set it up. You can lock your phone, display a message, or make it ding all from either a computer or another iPhone/iPad.