There are some apps that instantly click with you, MAPS.ME Offline Maps is one of those apps for me. The moment I started the app up, I knew how to navigate and what everything is meant to do. This is an example of a simple yet highly useable interface.
I have been testing less stellar apps these past few weeks and MAPS.ME Offline Maps felt like an oasis in a sea of subpar interfaces. The interface is one of the most important aspects of an app, even more so if the app is a GPS Navigation app. MAPS.ME Offline Maps delivers an easy to understand user experience that works right out of the box.
MAPS.ME Offline Maps is one of the most beautiful looking map apps around. The interface is well designed, and I love how the app manages to fill out the main screen. Some apps like to give you ten different buttons right on the map, but MAPS.ME Offline Maps keeps the map clutter free.
The maps you have downloaded will be available offline with full details as well. The app has a highly accurate map that is rare to see in offline map apps for Android.
The app took its sweet time to download the maps. The time is not excruciatingly long, though, I just feel that 50 MB should have downloaded a lot quicker on my connection.
The help section is very primitive and doesn’t look like it belongs with the otherwise great interface of the app.
I didn’t see anything that bad about the app other than this slight problem.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a great looking Android offline navigation app, MAPS.ME Offline Maps will do a great job for you. The app is missing some advanced features seen in other apps but for general usage it is one of the best ones around.
MAPS.ME Offline Maps is a stable and reliable app that you can use even when there is no internet connectivity. I would recommend this app as a secondary map app for all of your travels. The app comes in a very small package which means you can install and keep it on your smartphone all the time.
Installation and First Boot
MAPS.ME Offline Maps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store just like every other app. Go to the Play Store page and tap on the Install button. From there you can select the device you want to install the app on.
I recommend that you get map apps on a device that has some GPS available already. Some budget tablets do not come with a GPS built in and MAPS.ME Offline Maps won’t be very accurate on those devices.
After the installation, you can boot up the app from the notification bar. The app loads up quickly, but you will not be able to use it just yet. This is because MAPS.ME Offline Maps ships with no pre-installed maps on board. You will need to select the country of your preference, and the app will start downloading the map.
This process will take a couple of minutes depending on the size of the map. Obviously, the US will take a lot more time than most other countries, but it’s all worth it in the end.
There isn’t a tutorial when you first start the app. To be honest, the user interface is so easy to understand that you won’t feel the need for a tutorial.
Interface and Design
By now you’ve probably noticed that I’m thoroughly impressed by the design of MAPS.ME Offline Maps. The app goes to great lengths to make everything accessible to the user.
The UI is highly intuitive and is amazingly smooth to use. I would go as far as to say that MAPS.ME Offline Maps is comparable to Google Maps, an app that is considered a benchmark.
The main map screen shows a GPS icon as well as a menu button and the option to zoom in or out. That’s all there is on the screen; the rest is the just map. Most other apps like to clutter the screen with bars and icons but MAPS.ME Offline Maps keeps everything simple.
Tap on the menu button and a lot of options will pop onto the screen. This menu is a great way to access some of the best features the app has to offer.
Of course, there is obligatory zoom in and zoom out buttons on the right side of the screen. The slight transparency of the icons makes them almost invisible while navigating. If they get in your way, you can always shut them off in the settings menu.
MAPS.ME Offline Maps comes with a lot of features but not as many as we are used to. Thankfully, none of the features are locked behind a paywall making MAPS.ME Offline Maps one of the best free map apps for Android.
The bookmark option comes in handy when you need to access locations quickly. One of the best features of this app is the offline search. Yes, the app can search locations offline, and the results are almost instantaneous. Offline search is great news for anyone with a limited data plan or a spotty connection.
Want to know where the nearest pizza place is? MAPS.ME Offline Maps will find it for you with or without an active internet connection. Location sharing is also really convenient when you want your friends to know where you are.
MAPS.ME Offline Maps provides a great navigational experience as well. I used the app in my car on the same route I use to test GPS apps; it’s my daily trip from home to school.
The app worked flawlessly offline, and I had no trouble at all following the instructions.
The app selected the quickest route but didn’t account for the ongoing construction on one of the roads. I didn’t expect the offline app to detect traffic diversions, but the online one also didn’t know about the construction either.
The situation is exponentially better if you use the app in the States or Europe though so chances are you will have a great time using this app.
The app will need to access your email account for the login purposes. The login is purely optional so you can bypass that completely. However, the sharing feature will only work if you login on the app. The app also needs access to the GPS function of your Android device.
Considering this is a GPS navigation app for Android, this permission is entirely justified.
MAPS.ME Offline Maps is a refreshing app to use. The interface, the experience, and the navigation all work wonderfully. I had a blast testing this app, especially considering I don’t like testing GPS apps at all.
If an app has a good and easy to use interface, everyone will have a great time using it. I highly recommend MAPS.ME Offline Maps to everyone who has a shoddy carrier with poor coverage. This app deserves to be on your smartphone all the time and every time.
What is it about a map or navigation app that makes or breaks it for you?