In a world that is rapidly becoming less paper based and more dependent upon digital products, the introduction of a map app that copies the model of iTunes and Kindle is an appealing commodity. Avenza’s PDF Maps does just this: makes PDF maps downloadable on mobile devices to be available anywhere – while abroad, in remote areas and in the back country.
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Tristan Lyttle, Applications Manager App for Avenza Systems, discussed the launch of PDF Maps app 2.0 for iOS, a popular free app that has incorporated suggestions made by its users to further enhance tracking features such as real-time tracking and notes on elevation. It is the only geospatial PDF and GeoTIFF reader on Apple iOS for travel, outdoor activities or business purposes out in the field.
“You don’t need a cell or wi-fi connection to locate yourself, while you are in a foreign city, out in the bush, or hiking, so the app will allow you to use its features as long as you have the app loaded beforehand,” explained Lyttle. He said Avenza has their own online map store. Since print maps are being made obsolete by digital media, “we are creating a way that maps can be taken advantage of – you can purchase maps in the map store and then use them in the field.”
With the latest updates in PDF Maps 2.0, these features are included:
- Tracking real-time movement with GPS which includes noting speed and elevation statistics
- Saving, exporting and importing tracks in KML format
- Saving measurements to line data as well as importing and exporting lines in KML format
- “Map Features” list for easy organization of placemarks, lines and tracks including folder enhancements
- Improved export accuracy
Many vendors such as the U.S. Forest Service upload maps for seasonal use, for snowmobiling, motor vehicle use maps, cross country skiing maps, and hiking maps. Smaller vendors also have outdoor use maps that change winter to summer.
“We have a simple tool for users to contact us on the app with changes, and we will send their changes right over to the vendor, and the vendor makes the changes themselves,” said Lyttle.
Currently the app is only available on the iOS platform but an Android version is in beta version right now.
“The biggest feature we’ve just released in PDF Maps 2.0 is the GPS tracks which was the most widely requested feature,” said Lyttle. “It is the ability for the app to track you as you move while you’re on your map and drop a path that you could then add attributes to and export out for use in other GIS programs. You can export out as KML files or can share between other apps, that’s the iOS program. Android doesn’t have the degree of attribute customization that the iOS has and the measurement tool is not in the same spot. You can save measurements as features on your map and then export them. The biggest requests for the future are multi-page PDFs. Right now they have to be added as single page maps to the atlas. People want to be able load multi-pages, and have better compass functionality.”
The app can already import GeoPDFs. Since they are proprietary to Terrago, and they do their own annotation, it will depend upon the annotation already done before it can be imported.
PDF Maps app 2.0 is available now on the iTunes App Store free of charge for personal and private use. Commerical, government and academic use licensing is available for a nominal fee. For more information about PDF Maps, visit the Avenza website at http://www.avenza.com or the PDF Maps website at http://www.pdf-maps.com/. Pricing of each map is set by the publisher and free maps remain free to users through the PDF Maps app in-app store.