One of our favorite navigation tools – Galileo Offline Maps – recently completed a major update, adding one big feature and slipping a few smaller but no less important features in there, as well.
If you recall from our original review of Galileo Offline Maps, we like the ease of importing/exporting maps, bookmarks and the variety of maps sources available. Version 3.0 builds on these features and more. The big news in Version 3.0 is the addition of downloadable vector maps. And since features like social sharing, trip monitor, scroll and zoom plus multi-language support were added upgrades after our original review, we’re gonna take a look at them, too.
How do these new features stack up to the demands of bicycle travel?
This is the big-daddy. Scalable and downloadable vector maps based on OpenStreetMaps are loaded right into the app. Vector maps are available offline at all zoom levels, they take up less space than cached maps and load super fast. All of your old collections will work with vector maps. Once you’ve downloaded the country’s vector map, simply select that map and boom, there’s your collection sitting on a nice new vector map. Online or Offline, it will be there.
The biggest benefit of vector maps is the availability of full maps at anytime! No more tediously caching map tiles. No more missing a zoom level or accidentally leaving off the last tile of your journey. That stuff is history. The entire country is now loaded into the app at all zoom levels. This is pretty sweet. Using vector maps for the last few weeks we’ve been impressed with the detail of the maps and convenience of having the entire map preloaded into the app. This feature really fills a huge gap in the previous functionality of Galileo. There are still a few countries that have yet to be added to the app, but the folks at Galileo tell us they are steadily working to add more every day. Very nice.
It’s nice to share
Social Sharing directly from the app. While it’s not a feature upgrade of Version 3.0 (it was added during 2.5+ upgrades), Galileo has now enabled sharing your collections, bookmarks and tracks directly from the app to twitter and facebook or via email. In our last review, this was one feature we felt was needed to really make Galileo live up to its potential. Now it’s here!
We’ve used it a few times. In general it works pretty well. You can send your geo-data to your social networks or contacts with a click of a button. The benefit is the shared map/collection or bookmark can be downloaded to kml or GPS format right from the sharing link. We see this as being a benefit to group rides, bloggers and event organizers. Create your route, share it and then everyone has it. Easy-peasy. Our only complaint is, like most sharing features, it doesn’t support sharing to facebook brand pages. Only to your personal profile. One work around that we’ve used is to generate an email link then paste that into our brand page’s status. Even though its not perfect, it’s nice to share.
Where are we now?
Trip computer is a quiet upgrade from version 2.5+, allowing you to view speed, duration, elevation and direction in real time while recording GPS tracks. This really only has value for users with 3G enabled devices. Remember, only 3G users can actually view location in the field and record GPS tracks directly into the app. As wifi-only users, we don’t use the trip computer, except for checking elevation when connected to wifi. It doesn’t offer us any use in the field. This is less a fault of the app, than it is devices like wifi-only iPad or iPod touch. Still a valuable feature to have, even if you can only access it when connected.
One finger Scroll and Zoom is another feature that has been added since our last review. While it doesn’t make any visible change to the user interface, it does add value. Now simply double tap and hold to zoom or scroll to any point on the map. This has become a standard map use feature since Google Maps and smart phones first met, years ago. It’s nice to now have it on Galileo too. Bonus.
More Map sources
With the upgrade to Version 3.0 we noticed a few of the standard map sources disappeared. Losing Mapquest was not much of a loss. We never actually used it. So, good riddance. Along with the change up, the Galileo team made some new HD map sources available to download. Now, Google Satellite and Bing Maps , plus several USGS topo maps are ready to be added.
The Verdict: Highly Recommend
With the new vector maps feature and the smaller incremental upgrades, Galileo just keeps moving forward. It is one app that really should be in the navigation toolkit of every bicycle tourist out there. The development team is committed to improvement and open to user input. The app just gets better with every upgrade. The new vector map feature is a deal-maker. It boosts the usability on par with more expensive apps out there, gives the user an easier experience and peace of mind. The incremental upgrades since our last review are welcome progress, even if they’re not quite as sexy as vector maps. They add needed value to an already great app. There are still a few things we’d like to see, such as custom images for bookmarks and the sharing preferences buffed up a bit. But in general these are nit-picky complaints, considering the overall utility of the app. Plus, the price hasn’t gone up at all. The base app is still free on the App Store, and the full upgrade pack is still $5.99. A bargain when compared to other apps that cost 3-4 times more with no more functionality.