- offline maps & navigation app
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OsmAnd is a free and open source(FOSS) maps and navigation app. It uses OpenStreetMap(OSM) for map data, several different routing engines are available ranging from fully offline to partially online and maps can use local data(offline) or online tiles. It’s best feature is that it can be used fully offline once map data has been downloaded.
The built in routing engine that works offline can be very slow depending on length of your route and your phones cpu. When used with older phones, it can take several minutes to calculate a 10-20 mile route. It is the default routing engine when you install the app.
The OSRM routing engine works very fast, taking ~15 seconds to calculate a 10-20 mile route, but requires a data connection. It has to be enabled in the settings menu to work. This engine doesn’t seem to support announcing street names or avoiding tolls, use the default routing engine for the best experience.
Search is not as good as commercial competitors. One drawback is that OSM’s data is missing many businesses and addresses compared to commercial competitors. The other is that the search function often requires exact substing matches to find things and is compounded by the fact OSM is crowdsourced data so there can be inconsistencies in tagging.
Map updates come monthly by default and include any updates that have been made to the OSM data.
OsmAnd live is a feature that allows downloads of new map data every hour if you want. This feature comes free with the F Droid version. This feature is great for OSM contributors. OsmAnd Live updates approx. every 15 minutes so you can make changes on OSM, wait 15 minutes and download your changes so you can immediately use your changes and know what’s already been mapped.
Since the app is FOSS, the app ,app updates and map updates can be free if you download from F Droid . You can also get a free version from the Play store that comes with limits on the amount of offline maps you can download, but you can purchase an expanded version that takes aways those limits.
Battery and Data Usage
App uses very little data when using local data, even with online route calculation enabled. Map downloads are large, I highly recommend downloading over wifi only.
Battery usage seems to be much lower than commercial competitors, but a direct comparison has not been done.
Map rendering will be slightly slower than commercial ones if using local map data. If you want the fastest experience, enable online map tiles in the configure map section.
##Long Term Update
Search is a pain and doesn’t become less frustrating over time. Rendering can be odd sometimes, showing the backgound as water instead of land at certain zoom levels. Routing is almost always good.
The app is usable for day to day navigation, but will take some getting used to if coming from always online apps. The amount of options the app gives you is impressive. At any time, you can choose to go offline only to save data or online for a faster experience or something in between. OsmAnd Live is highly recommended if you are an OSM contributor.
If you want a free navigation app that doesn’t track you, this is a great choice.