Saturday, January 15, 2011

Locus: Online/Offline Map App Review

Locus puts millions of maps on your phone, accessible online or offline, anywhere

Platform: Android

4 out of 5


Finally, an all-in-one tool that tames the millions of maps available online.

Ad-supported. The app is still under development, so expect some traffic jams, potholes, and detours of the early-app kind. Some features are missing (and coming soon), but the core functionality is more than enough to justify a download.

Will soon allow you to more easily share your current map view via numerous social media and other communication channels.

Maps (-)
Google Maps
Street View on Google
My Maps Editor by Google
Topo Maps Lite

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

Ever been out in the middle of a forest, with zero bars, wishing you could access a map of the area? Menion Asamm’s Locus app makes this a reality, putting the millions of maps available online right on your phone for use anyhere, anytime, regardless of whether you’re connected to the Net or not.

Right out of the gate, you’ll notice the standard map overlay looks decidedly different from Google Maps. The roads, landmarks, and other points of interest are illustrated in different shades of green, blue, and even pink.

After a few minutes putting Locus through its paces, it’s clear that the underlying code and features are still under development. Regardless, there’s plenty of functionality built in to make it a must-download for all serious map users.

Moving around the maps is easy using standard gestures, plus pinch and zoom allows for clean zooming. Add to that the ability to twist two-finger touches to rotate the map, and the standard Google Map app has met its match. (Although turn by turn directions are only available from Google’s app.)

Loading a given address is a snap, as well as entering discrete GPS coordinates to jump to a location. (Geocaching aide, anyone?) The standard overlay features are also here, including satellite, terrain, etc. A growing collection of map sources (including Google, Yahoo!, OSM, OVI-Nokia, and Bing) opens up a world of overhead views.

And once you have the perfect map up on your screen, Locus plays its strongest hand when you click the Map Manager icon in the top-right corner. Here you can immediately change the online map source, load your own user maps you’ve loaded on your phone, and download the current map to your device. The selections for this last feature include: Download this screen, select an area, by state, or select path.

What it adds up to is an offline map storage capability that’s immediately useful for a myriad of professional and personal uses. Add the ability to import tracks, data, and other elements to tweak your current view, switch to offline view so only cached tiles are displayed (great for going offline and deep into the forest), and we’ve got ourselves a winner. Coming soon will be an enhanced ability to directly share your map view with others via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and much more.

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