Map on an App anyone?
An increasing number of apps support some aspect of orienteering on your smartphone. Your phone has the potential to be a 3-in-1 device – map, compass and proof of visiting controls all at once. This page describes apps we know about and have used – there may well be others, so please use Contact Us to tell us if you find anything interesting. Orienteering is much more popular in Scandanavia and Eastern Europe than in the UK so don’t be surprised if English is not the author’s first language. So far we have:
MOBO – map on your phone, proof of visit by scanning QR codes.
MapTiler – map on your phone, optional dot to show where you are.
GPS Orienteering – map on your phone, proof of visit by GPS saying you’re in the right place.
MOBO is a free App which runs on Android, Apple, Nokia and Windows phones. Here’s the MOBO web site.
The courses at Burrs Country Park, along with its Activity Centre, have been set up with MOBO controls, so if you download the app, choose yourself a name, and select a Burrs course, the map and control descriptions are placed on your phone and you can use them whenever you want. At each control (including the Start/Finish), there is a plaque with a unique QR code – when you reach the control, you touch the app’s camera icon and scan the QR code. The control code and current time are saved, and will be uploaded to the MOBO web site, so that your activity is recorded and you can see what other people have done. Here’s a little document to help get you going – MOBO_Getting_Started_Guide.
MapTiler is a very nice App as it is useful to both beginners and experienced orienteers. Here’s the MapTiler web site.
It’s simple. It works on smartphones and tablets. It displays an Orienteering map and your position on it as a little blue dot. If you want to zoom in or out you can do so. If you want to fade between your map and a satellite view you can do so, and if you want to set the map (align the north on the map with magnetic north irrespective of the direction in which you are going) you can do that too. Doesn’t sound much? It’s huge.
What this means for beginners is:
- You can go round a course without getting lost. The little blue dot is always bang on the money.
- A map that is set makes it easy to go in the right direction. And you don’t need to buy a compass.
- You can learn how to read an Orienteering map in a safe but practical way.
- You can try something a wee bit harder harder than you would otherwise attempt without the App.
What this means for experienced Orienteers is:
- Mappers can check that their georeferenced maps have everything in the correct place.
- Planners can check their controls are in the right place.
- Organisers can start to think big. The App can support zoomable maps that represent 20 square kilometres.
So give it a go everyone. We currently have two Parks with MapTiler maps: Heaton Park in North Manchester and Wythenshawe Park in the South. The “MapTiler GPS MBTiles Viewer” App costs less than £1.50 whether for Android or Apple smartphones or tablets – further details on how to install the map can be found at MapTiler_for_Android and MapTiler_for_Apple. To get an existing MapTiler map simply use the map order form, or to tell us you’d like another park to be made available, Contact us.
Manchester and District Orienteering Club have events at which the competitors can, if they wish, run without paper maps relying solely on their MapTiler Apps.
HippsomApp (GPS Orienteering) is a low-cost (about £4) app which runs on Android devices, and uses GPS to know where you are. Here’s the HippsomApp web site. You need to obtain two files – a map image and a file of courses and controls with their GPS coordinates – which GMOA can supply on request. Then, you choose a course to go round, and locate the Start. Your phone will Beep when you are close enough, and show that you’ve visited the Start and the next control should be X (say). When you get close enough to X, your phone will Beep again and show the next control should be Y (say). When you return to the Start, your phone will record that you have completed the course, and show you the times you’ve taken to find each of the controls. Clearly, how well this all works depends on the accuracy of the map and the accuracy with which its GPS coordinates have been established. An initial experiment at Clifton Country Park proved very successful, so it is certainly worth trying if you fancy the idea.