App Review: oMaps (offline Maps) by Thomas Bonnin
For the most part, an iPod Touch can do what an iPhone can do, especially with all of the new capabilities that the iPhone OS 3.0 gives it. You can chat with friends and receive push notifications. You can make phone calls using Skype. You can play games to your hearts content. However, at least for me, once I leave the house and the comfort of my WiFi network, my iPod becomes a lot less useful. I loose the ability to find information and communicate with others. Many of these limitations cannot be overcome without finding another network to connect to. oMaps by Thomas Bonnin does help in providing you with map information on your iPod even when you are not connected to a WiFi network.
oMaps is a simple app that allows you to search for maps of locations and then save the information to your iPod. Once the information is saved, you can access it at any time. It does not simply take a screen shot of the map, though. It saves all of the information for the area on your screen. When you pull up the saved maps, you can zoom in to get more detail. I found that I was able to zoom in easily and quickly. I did not even have to wait for the screen to refresh, it seemed. This app could be very useful when you are driving in an area with which you are not familiar.
I do see some drawbacks to the app as well. First, and most obvious, you must plan ahead. You cannot use the app to access a map if you have no WiFi connection available to you. If you know you are going somewhere, though and think a little ahead, the map is available when and if you need it. Second, I was not terribly impressed with the appearance of the map itself. Because of restrictions placed on the use of Google’s maps, the developer chose a different mapping application to use. It is not quite as neat and clean in appearance as the Google maps. Third, once you leave your WiFi network, you are limited to the data within the screen that you saved. You cannot zoom out or pan to another area of the map. The data simply isn’t there.
The good news is that you can save as many maps as you can fit on your iPod. The maps take a little while to download, but then the information is stored locally on your device and is always at your fingertips. You can have maps anytime, anywhere. oMaps is not perfect. However, for an iPod Touch owner, oMaps can be a very valuable tool.
oMaps is $0.99 in the iTunes App Store.
Developer’s Website: http://omapsiphone.com/