If you’re looking for off-road navigation then you probably have a dedicated GPS device that you use instead of a smartphone. Even with off-network capability, these apps aren’t incredibly helpful most of the time when you’re backpacking in the middle of nowhere, or trying to find your way through a rural area. And, while I’ll never try and sell you that smartphones are better than GPS (they aren’t) if you have an iPhone, this new app might be something worth looking into.
Maps 3D Pro costs about $5 on iTunes, and is actually designed for hikers, cyclists, skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. Not only does it give you terrain and altitude details and download to your phone, but you can actually select what kind of map you want based on where you’re going. Maps 3D Pro draws maps from NASA satellite views, 3D topographic maps, Open Street Maps (for city navigation) and USGS maps just to name a few. You can look at the maps in regular 2D or in beautifully rendered 3D, depending on your needs. You can even zoom and rotate around the 3D version–sort of like a Google Earth for your phone. If nothing else, it’s kind of pretty to play with.
Of course, being a phone app, it has plenty of connectivity features via email, Facebook, Twitter, EveryTrail, Dropbox and more to download tracks and share your progress wirelessly. Depending on the accuracy and capabilities of your phone, you can track things like distance traveled, average speed and log position and altitude via GPS.
Personally, I’m not sure I’d recommend relying solely on this, and keep in mind that using GPS on your phone can seriously kill your battery. Still… for short bike rides or horseback excursions or even quick hikes I can certainly see the appeal. It would be pretty neat for planning routes on the go, which you can then follow via your GPS like normal.
Unfortunately, the app is only available for iPhones and requires iOS 7 or later. To check out more info, visit their website.