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Using my smart phone for maps

Old 03-15-16, 08:46 PM
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Using my smart phone for maps

I know the advantages and disadvantages like battery life and things like that. But I have a pretty nifty holder for my smartphone on my bike stem and for the time being I would like to use my smartphone to do more than just map my ride. I mean I would like to be able to actually input a map on to it a particular course that I wanted to ride. I see on Google Maps I can create my own course. My question is what would be the best app to use on my phone to import a created map to? I have my tracks recently installed but I've never used it. And I always use Strava when I go riding. And of course I have Google Maps that came installed on my phone. I don't see anywhere in Strava to import a route. So my question is between my tracks and Google Maps would 1 be better for this purpose as far as battery drain? And is there any other apps out there that can do it all without having to use Google maps to do the creating?
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Old 03-16-16, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey View Post
I know the advantages and disadvantages like battery life and things like that. But I have a pretty nifty holder for my smartphone on my bike stem and for the time being I would like to use my smartphone to do more than just map my ride. I mean I would like to be able to actually input a map on to it a particular course that I wanted to ride. I see on Google Maps I can create my own course. My question is what would be the best app to use on my phone to import a created map to? I have my tracks recently installed but I've never used it. And I always use Strava when I go riding. And of course I have Google Maps that came installed on my phone. I don't see anywhere in Strava to import a route. So my question is between my tracks and Google Maps would 1 be better for this purpose as far as battery drain? And is there any other apps out there that can do it all without having to use Google maps to do the creating?
There are numerous websites that allow the creation of planned routes that also allow the user to download the route to their smart phones by using a phone app. The ones I usually hear the most about are *RidewithGPS and Mapmyride. I use *RWGPS myself. While RWGPS website also offers it's own phone app it will also work with a few other notable navigation apps. I use Cuesheet and Locus Pro for android ( Iphone versions should also exist ). Both work well for general turn by turn navigation for planned routes although Locus Pro has many more features and programmable options. Cuesheet is the easiest to work with though. With Locus Pro in order to export the route you have to have a drop box account ( free ) so you can access it from your phone. With Cuesheet the routes you create on RWGPS automatically come up when you link it to RWGPS website. ( *Been since last year that I visited these websites so no doubt there might be new options and better features since I last logged on. )

Most of the phone navigation apps offer free starter versions of the app but if you want better features you can always purchase the "advanced or Pro version" for a small one-time fee. On the other hand if you chose to use RWGPS's own phone app the last I heard they charge a monthly subscription fee which is of course much more money. Then again you can choose to "pay as you go" with the RWGPS app and only pay for the months you know you will most likely be using the app.

Keep in mind in order to create a planned route you still have to do so on one of the websites I mentioned. To do that you open an account and then you should be good to go once you decide what app to you want to use.

Right now my favorite navigation app is *Locus Pro. I like *LP because LP gives me the option to use *Openstreetmap(cycle) as one of the many maps it offers. *OSM (cycle ) is nice because it also clearly shows a lot of "off road trails and off road paved trails". That fact alone makes it a big winner IMO, even if the app is somewhat complicated to work with. At least with Locus Pro if you have a problem with something they do have a dedicated website that can answer most of your questions.
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Old 03-16-16, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by 01 CAt Man Do View Post
There are numerous websites that allow the creation of planned routes that also allow the user to download the route to their smart phones by using a phone app. The ones I usually hear the most about are *RidewithGPS and Mapmyride. I use *RWGPS myself. While RWGPS website also offers it's own phone app it will also work with a few other notable navigation apps. I use Cuesheet and Locus Pro for android ( Iphone versions should also exist ). Both work well for general turn by turn navigation for planned routes although Locus Pro has many more features and programmable options. Cuesheet is the easiest to work with though. With Locus Pro in order to export the route you have to have a drop box account ( free ) so you can access it from your phone. With Cuesheet the routes you create on RWGPS automatically come up when you link it to RWGPS website. ( *Been since last year that I visited these websites so no doubt there might be new options and better features since I last logged on. )

Most of the phone navigation apps offer free starter versions of the app but if you want better features you can always purchase the "advanced or Pro version" for a small one-time fee. On the other hand if you chose to use RWGPS's own phone app the last I heard they charge a monthly subscription fee which is of course much more money. Then again you can choose to "pay as you go" with the RWGPS app and only pay for the months you know you will most likely be using the app.

Keep in mind in order to create a planned route you still have to do so on one of the websites I mentioned. To do that you open an account and then you should be good to go once you decide what app to you want to use.

Right now my favorite navigation app is *Locus Pro. I like *LP because LP gives me the option to use *Openstreetmap(cycle) as one of the many maps it offers. *OSM (cycle ) is nice because it also clearly shows a lot of "off road trails and off road paved trails". That fact alone makes it a big winner IMO, even if the app is somewhat complicated to work with. At least with Locus Pro if you have a problem with something they do have a dedicated website that can answer most of your questions.
So tell me what is better about RWGPS vs using Google Maps to create a route (comparison)? And is Lopus pro less resource hungry than Google Maps or My Tracks? Also since I have never used a Garmin for a bike explain to me what is meant by the quote I have heard people say that certain events have a pre planned route and you can "put the route into your GPS". Do Garmins have the ability to create routes or do you still have to use a site like RWGPS or Google maps and then import the same file into your Garmin just like you would your phone? The only downside I see right now is I would be tempted to stop using Strava since using 2 navigation apps at once would surely hog my battery down. I wish Strava had the ability to accept created maps.
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Old 03-16-16, 11:25 AM
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I don't use Strava but I do believe the ability to import routes is there if you are using the premium version. Many of the cycling apps disable many of the most wanted features so that if you want them you have to pay. As mentioned, pretty much all the cycling apps have an accompanying website that will allow you to create routes. Some require the premium subscription which gives you full access to both the website and the cycling app. My suggestion would be to try some of the web sites and see which one is the easiest to use and that you like the best. They will all export to .GPX, .TCX format so they are compatible with most of the popular cycling apps. Some may even export to .KLM or .FIT file formats. Also, most of the popular cycling apps share with Strava so that when you end your ride, it is automatically uploaded to your Strava account and displayed on your Activity Feed page. It will be no different than using the Strava app on your phone. I do this with all my rides using Cyclemeter on my iPhone.

Here are a few of the popular cycling web sites that you can use to start with.

Endomondo
Garmin Connect
Map My Ride
Ride With GPS

As for the Garmin, you can create a route using any of the websites but for the newer Garmin units, you still need the Garmin Connect app on your phone to push them on to the computer.
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Old 03-16-16, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by John_V View Post
I don't use Strava but I do believe the ability to import routes is there if you are using the premium version.
Route creation and utilizing said routes is a standard feature of the Strava app/website. It doesn't require a premium subscription.

FYI Strava (premium or not) doesn't support importing routes. You have to build them on their website using their route builder.

EDIT: I just checked and apparently the ability to upload a GPX file and have it turned into a route is supported by Strava at the Beta "Labs" level. Here:

https://labs.strava.com/gpx-to-route/

EDIT2: Tried it, it works!

Last edited by dr_lha; 03-16-16 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 03-16-16, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey View Post
Do Garmins have the ability to create routes or do you still have to use a site like RWGPS or Google maps and then import the same file into your Garmin just like you would your phone?
Not sure why it's relevant but since you asked. You can create a route using their tool or any of the ones mentioned in this thread. I tend to use their web tool because it has a "send to device" button and sends the route to my Garmin over the air. Here's a sample: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/11827811 You can also touch your intended destination and have it create a bike-friendly route for your on the fly, which is more useful.

You should make a route around your neighborhood and try a few different apps to see how they work with it and which one you prefer.
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Old 03-16-16, 12:13 PM
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Bright sunlight
Can you see your phone's display in bright sunlight? Bike computers use a different display technology that works great in sunlight, and is backlit at night.

I suppose a phone will crank up it's brightness when it's in sun, which could affect battery life.

Anyway, it's easy to try out!

Creating routes with ridewithgps or strava


ridewithgps is way better than google maps for drawing bike routes.
See my review in this post.

Lately, I've been experimenting with the new Strava Route Builder. I like it for making routes in unfamiliar areas, since it uses it's huge database of uploaded strava rides to pick the popular bike riding roads.
I reviewed it in this post. Check out the "Testing Strava's routing" section in the review.

Last edited by rm -rf; 03-16-16 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 03-16-16, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey View Post
So tell me what is better about RWGPS vs using Google Maps to create a route (comparison)? And is Lopus pro less resource hungry than Google Maps or My Tracks? Also since I have never used a Garmin for a bike explain to me what is meant by the quote I have heard people say that certain events have a pre planned route and you can "put the route into your GPS". Do Garmins have the ability to create routes or do you still have to use a site like RWGPS or Google maps and then import the same file into your Garmin just like you would your phone? The only downside I see right now is I would be tempted to stop using Strava since using 2 navigation apps at once would surely hog my battery down. I wish Strava had the ability to accept created maps.
Google maps vs. RWGPS?: RWGPS is just easier to work with IMO. I don't know if you can download routes that have been created using GMaps. I've heard of people doing that but it sounded complicated. I have no comment on comparing which app is more resource hungry as compared to Gmaps or Mytracks. I found both Locus Pro and Cuesheet to be pretty efficient, generally speaking. A lot though depends on your phone's battery and how much you need to use the screen. I only use the screen map if I want to check on something or I think I'm close to a tricky intersection. I do that time to time but only because sometimes I will make a mistake while creating the map and then not catch it before downloading....it happens.

Google map as almost everyone knows uses a bit of battery if you use it as a navigation tool. I use Gmap/navigate all the time when working/driving but the phone I have has a good size battery and most of the times I use it is only for short periods. While using LPro with my old phone I used to finish my typical route and have about 25% battery left. With my new phone its' more like 50% depending on how long I ride.

I haven't used LPro since last year but if my memory serves me I believe you can turn the app off and then reload the route if you turn it back on and the app will pick up your location and automatically start to navigate the route again from where you are. I've only done that once though. Generally I just let it run but turn the screen off if I don't need it. Generally the audible prompts are enough to let me know when my turn is coming up. It's the phone's screen that will use most of the power.
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Old 03-16-16, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 01 CAt Man Do View Post
Google maps vs. RWGPS?: RWGPS is just easier to work with IMO. I don't know if you can download routes that have been created using GMaps. I've heard of people doing that but it sounded complicated. I have no comment on comparing which app is more resource hungry as compared to Gmaps or Mytracks. I found both Locus Pro and Cuesheet to be pretty efficient, generally speaking. A lot though depends on your phone's battery and how much you need to use the screen. I only use the screen map if I want to check on something or I think I'm close to a tricky intersection. I do that time to time but only because sometimes I will make a mistake while creating the map and then not catch it before downloading....it happens.

Google map as almost everyone knows uses a bit of battery if you use it as a navigation tool. I use Gmap/navigate all the time when working/driving but the phone I have has a good size battery and most of the times I use it is only for short periods. While using LPro with my old phone I used to finish my typical route and have about 25% battery left. With my new phone its' more like 50% depending on how long I ride.

I haven't used LPro since last year but if my memory serves me I believe you can turn the app off and then reload the route if you turn it back on and the app will pick up your location and automatically start to navigate the route again from where you are. I've only done that once though. Generally I just let it run but turn the screen off if I don't need it. Generally the audible prompts are enough to let me know when my turn is coming up. It's the phone's screen that will use most of the power.
Thanks for all the replies guys. I might look into getting one of those portable chargers too. My son has one and it is small and can recharge his I phone 6 times on a single charge.
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Old 03-17-16, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
Route creation and utilizing said routes is a standard feature of the Strava app/website. It doesn't require a premium subscription.

FYI Strava (premium or not) doesn't support importing routes. You have to build them on their website using their route builder.

EDIT: I just checked and apparently the ability to upload a GPX file and have it turned into a route is supported by Strava at the Beta "Labs" level. Here:

https://labs.strava.com/gpx-to-route/

EDIT2: Tried it, it works!
Well here's what I've experimented with so far. I created a simple route on Strava and saved it I created a simple route on Ride with GPS and saved it too and then exported it and then imported it in to Strava. They were the same route only created with two different programs. You guys may have known this but I guess I didn't.....I just found out this morning testing out my routes that neither one on Strava will have a voice telling you to turn right or turn left. I was hoping that Strava had this ability then I could turn my screen off and just listen to The Voice without having to look at the map to save battery. I downloaded the Ride with GPS app on my phone and tried to use it to navigate my saved route but of course that was for premium Members Only. If I could pay for the app I would but I'm not going to do a monthly subscription. So it looks like if I want voice to talk to me I'm going to have to save my pre-planned route and then import it into one of the other GPS services that 01 Cat man do mentioned. I also tried map my ride and thought I might have found a gold mine there but when I created the same simple route and tried to save it on their website it continuously kept bringing up an error saying that it could not be saved click here for help. So I Google searched the problem and all I could find was constant complaints from people saying that map my ride was not a very good service and their customer service was terrible. So I decided to do away with that app and just focus on Strava and Ride with GPS and maybe another mapping service. I am not even sure if my tracks has the ability to have a GPS voice talk to you as well. But I did notice online this morning that Google is doing away with my tracks this year. I don't know if that means the app will be useless or if they simply mean they're not going to be updating or supporting it anymore but you can still download the current version and use it?
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Old 03-17-16, 08:36 AM
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Try Osmand You can download some state maps for free, and a one-time subscription for more maps is cheap (I think it's $6)

I was on a ride with another rider that was getting turn-by-turn voice prompts. I thought it was giving too many advance notices of upcoming turns, but perhaps that's configurable. See some screen shots in this post. I've not used it for bike navigation, other than uploading a route file and seeing that it shows on the maps correctly. (It was kind of confusing where to put the routes so that osmand could find them.)
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Old 03-17-16, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey View Post
Well here's what I've experimented with so far. I created a simple route on Strava and saved it I created a simple route on Ride with GPS and saved it too and then exported it and then imported it in to Strava. They were the same route only created with two different programs. You guys may have known this but I guess I didn't.....I just found out this morning testing out my routes that neither one on Strava will have a voice telling you to turn right or turn left. I was hoping that Strava had this ability then I could turn my screen off and just listen to The Voice without having to look at the map to save battery.
Right, Strava doesn't do turn-by-turn navigation.

I downloaded the Ride with GPS app on my phone and tried to use it to navigate my saved route but of course that was for premium Members Only. If I could pay for the app I would but I'm not going to do a monthly subscription.
So basically, you really want a feature, but you're not willing to pay for it.
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Old 03-17-16, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
Right, Strava doesn't do turn-by-turn navigation.


So basically, you really want a feature, but you're not willing to pay for it.
That's not entirely true. I've got some apps on my phone that I paid for I just don't want to pay for a monthly subscription to something. I'm only trying to have fun with this it's not something that I'm going to be doing a heck of a lot of. And Google Maps is free it came pre-installed on my phone. I'm just looking for other alternatives.
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Old 03-17-16, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
So basically, you really want a feature, but you're not willing to pay for it.
Nothing wrong with that. It's entirely fair, and it's where a lot of software innovation comes from.
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Old 03-17-16, 05:11 PM
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Good thread, and timely for me. A friend gave me his old iPhone 4s but I haven't used it for much other than the camera and as a mini-tablet. But after getting lost a couple of times recently trying to find some quiet residential routes bypassing a couple of bicycle-unfriendly thoroughfares, I decided to try some navigation apps.

I tried Strava and MapMyRide but both seemed more aimed at competition among Freds rather than practical navigation first, with some data recording as a secondary interest. The only useful info I got was to confirm that yes, indeed, I do average 12 mph and probably won't get any faster. And both apps seem to clog the screen with so much clutter the maps aren't useful, although that might be due to using the freebie version with ads. I'm hoping the paid versions will be less cluttered.

So I'll check out the various apps suggested here.
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Old 03-18-16, 12:17 PM
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^^^ Add Cyclemeter to the list when trying out apps. It's pretty clean and, while extremely feature rich, it doesn't give you a cluttered screen and isn't really geared for competition, although you can use some of it's features to do so. And since the phone you have is a 4S, it can use BTLE sensors, like those provided by Wahoo, to give you speed, cadence and heart monitoring and it's compatible with the RFLKT.
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Old 03-18-16, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by John_V View Post
^^^ Add Cyclemeter to the list when trying out apps. It's pretty clean and, while extremely feature rich, it doesn't give you a cluttered screen and isn't really geared for competition, although you can use some of it's features to do so. And since the phone you have is a 4S, it can use BTLE sensors, like those provided by Wahoo, to give you speed, cadence and heart monitoring and it's compatible with the RFLKT.
Thanks, just downloaded it. I'll try it this weekend. Looks pretty good so far.
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Old 03-22-16, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Try Osmand You can download some state maps for free, and a one-time subscription for more maps is cheap (I think it's $6)

I was on a ride with another rider that was getting turn-by-turn voice prompts. I thought it was giving too many advance notices of upcoming turns, but perhaps that's configurable. See some screen shots in this post. I've not used it for bike navigation, other than uploading a route file and seeing that it shows on the maps correctly. (It was kind of confusing where to put the routes so that osmand could find them.)
+1. I've used Osmand for bike navigation. I generate a route in Mapmyride and download it to the phone. Since the base map is saved on your phone, there is no need to use cell data during the ride itself (which is awesome in areas with spotty cell coverage, or if you're cheap like me and don't like to pay for lots of data).
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Old 03-22-16, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
+1. I've used Osmand for bike navigation. I generate a route in Mapmyride and download it to the phone. Since the base map is saved on your phone, there is no need to use cell data during the ride itself (which is awesome in areas with spotty cell coverage, or if you're cheap like me and don't like to pay for lots of data).
so you can import from MMR? I might be trying this today. do you know the difference between free and paid versions of the app can't find anything on the website
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Old 03-22-16, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by sriley4290 View Post
so you can import from MMR? I might be trying this today. do you know the difference between free and paid versions of the app can't find anything on the website
I haven't checked lately, but IIRC, the only difference between free and paid versions of Osmand is that the paid version gives you unlimited map downloads. In the US, each state is one map, so if you only have a handful of states you need then you can get by with the free version.

Yes, I have exported routes from MMR and used them in Osmand. I haven't used the turn-by-turn directions feature with bike routes, but others have reported it works.

I've found that Osmand isn't the best at computing routes, where you start at X and just want to it to tell you how to get to Y. The routes it picks sometimes seem to be less logical than, for example, the dedicated Tom Tom GPS I use in the car. It does have a bike navigation mode though, so if you're biking and there is a bike path on the route, it will pick that vs a road.
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Old 03-22-16, 01:11 PM
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That is pretty good info, thank you. I have downloaded the free version, and looking to try and see if I can get the MMR route I created into Osmand.
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Old 03-24-16, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Try Osmand You can download some state maps for free, and a one-time subscription for more maps is cheap (I think it's $6)

I was on a ride with another rider that was getting turn-by-turn voice prompts. I thought it was giving too many advance notices of upcoming turns, but perhaps that's configurable. See some screen shots in this post. I've not used it for bike navigation, other than uploading a route file and seeing that it shows on the maps correctly. (It was kind of confusing where to put the routes so that osmand could find them.)
I might just have to give the OsmAnd app a test run. When you made the comment ( below )

I was on a ride with another rider that was getting turn-by-turn voice prompts. I thought it was giving too many advance notices of upcoming turns, but perhaps that's configurable.
...was this a comment about OsmAnd or someone using another app? I'm just wondering....Does OsmAnd give voice turn by turn prompts when in off-line mode? The ad mentions that it does voice guidance but not when it's off-line so I have to ask. I'm also assuming that the Osmand app works with RWGPS website(?).

Anyway, it's got me interested. If it's easier to use than Locus it might be worth the money.
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Old 03-24-16, 10:30 AM
  #23  
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Both MapMyRide and RideWithGPS have turn-by-turn navigation and allow you to import downloaded routes in .GPX/.TCX formats. They are also bike specific apps that also connect to external sensors which you can't do with Osmand. Maybe it's just me, but I fail to see the advantage of running two GPS apps on a phone, simultaneously.
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Old 03-24-16, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by John_V View Post
^^^ Add Cyclemeter to the list when trying out apps...
Thanks again. I've been using Cyclemeter for about a week and it does exactly what I wanted from a recording app, and is easy to read and use.

I'm still trying to get the hang of downloading maps for reference when I'm away from cell coverage or wifi, and using turn by turn navigation, but I just need to study and try a few more apps.
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Old 03-25-16, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Thanks again. I've been using Cyclemeter for about a week and it does exactly what I wanted from a recording app, and is easy to read and use.

I'm still trying to get the hang of downloading maps for reference when I'm away from cell coverage or wifi, and using turn by turn navigation, but I just need to study and try a few more apps.
When you download routes into Cyclemeter, you may want to save them as a Path instead of a Route. Saving them as a Path does not not add the miles to your stats as when saving as a Route. When you start your ride, select the Path you want to use and start your ride to get the directions. At the end of the ride, Cyclemeter will save that route as New Route. Simply edit the ride and change the route name and save it. Also, when saving as a Path, if the route is from someone else, Cyclemeter will strip all the data from the route and leave just the GPS coordinates which makes it smaller and doesn't take up as much iCloud space.
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