A common question I find on the internet is how to navigate with apps. GPS devices are fine, but their maps are often clunky, old, or simply have no maps for the area you’re going to.
We owned a Garmin GPSMAP 64i (or something to that extend) and after a few days of struggling with it I decided that the frustration that using this thing brought would ruin our adventure. Garmin navigation isn’t for me… But then the next struggle started – Where to find a good navigation app for smartphones that “just works” and is not hard to use.
Turns out that wasn’t as easy as it should be either. But I have a few workable solutions!
After some trial and error I eventually settled on using Osmand, for which I bought the lifetime update package, activated some mapping plugins and Jeanette choose to use the free version.
Figuring out how to mape GPX files work with it was a bit of an adventure in itself.
I prefer to prepare maps and routes on my laptop, export that file and then load it into the app on my phone. Osmand doesn’t like that very much, but ones you get it working it works mostly fine.
The settings are a bit finicky because there are so many of them, so once you’ve got it set up you may want to export the settings profile. Then if an update screws it up you can easily restore your working settings. This also helps to sync your different devices or to share your ‘ultimate’ settings to your adventure buddies.
I have a full write up with screenshots on how to get the Routes and Tracks from MotoTravel working in Osmand here: Importing GPX files into Osmand. This includes step-by-step instructions for Android and iPhones.
For our big adventure through Mexico I had prepared every segment of our route as a track which also included Points of Interest. Osmand often got confused with routing with the POI and Waypoints. So half way through I switched to not using Waypoints at all. And again later on in the trip I figured that having the Points of Interest in a separate file would be better. This worked really well. That’s why every route on MotoTravel has a separate file with Points of Interest and Waypoints are not included at all – They’re mostly irrelevant anyway since the map itself has those places as icons on it as well.
GPX and Guru Maps
Later on I also discovered Guru Maps as being a decent navigation app. I haven’t really used it much as I’m, for now, invested into using Osmand. But I did experiment a bit with Guru Maps on some shorter rides. I like the way Guru Maps renders the map better compared to Osmand. So maybe I’ll switch in the future.
Anyway, I did figure out a good workflow for loading GPX files into Guru Maps and in my limited testing this works very well.
Also for Guru Maps I did a full write up with step by step instructions and screenshots for Android and IPhones on how to load GPX tracks and routes into the app.
You can check it out here: Importing GPX files into Guru Maps.
But wait, there is more!
On top of this I also created short tutorials for several other apps such as BMW Connected, Routes (Android) and MapOut (iOS) all with step-by-step instructions and screenshots on how to load GPX files into the apps and how to use them for navigation.
Check out all tips and tricks here: Using GPX files.
All these steps should work for the majority of GPX files out there, but I never tested that. I usually use my own routes which I uploaded to MotoTravel.