We’ve all heard of ebooks. For travel they are convenient; load up an iPad or Kindle with books, read them anywhere, no internet connection needed, and save weight and space.
You can do the same with maps thanks to Maps.Me, an inexpensive iPhone and iPad app, which uses the Open Street Map, a free worldwide public map database. Load map information files for the areas you need before you travel (or as you travel if you find WiFi access on the road). Once loaded, an internet connection isn’t needed to use maps.
These are not ordinary maps. The map on the screen is drawn as you use it from the geographic information files you downloaded. You can pan, and most importantly, zoom in. As you zoom in the map is redrawn with increasing detail. All this happens almost instantly.
As an example, here are screenshots from Maps.Me on my iPad mini. First, the country of Greece and surroundings, with Athens roughly in the middle of the shot. You can see the scale in the lower right—the bar represents 100km.
Touch the screen and drag two fingers apart to zoom. In the screenshot below, the bar now represents 5km and you can see the port of Pireus, a place that I will need to navigate my way out of on my bike this summer.
Zoom again to get local street detail at the ferry dock in Pireus with street names, one-way streets marked, and a few points of interest. In this screenshot the scale bar now represents 100m. Zooming is smoothly variable to a level of 20m. Want coffee or a hotel? Touch the search icon and select coffee shops or hotels to find the nearest one.
If you have an iPhone, or an iPad with built-in GPS receiver (only on the mobile data version of iPad), you can see your current position on the map. No internet or mobile data connection needed.
For a cyclist with limited space for maps, this is wonderful.