OsmAnd: Offline Maps & Navigation With OpenStreetMap Data

OsmAnd is an offline map and navigation app that is fed with high quality data from OpenStreetMap (OSM). The acronym stands for OSM Automated Navigation Directions. OSM, the source of the offline maps, is a free wiki world map. The free version of OsmAnd includes 10 map downloads, which is plenty if you are going on a one or two-week road trip. The full version, OsmAnd+, offers unlimited downloads and costs $8. You should consider OsmAnd if you need reliable offline navigation, something Google Maps still doesn’t offer (despite letting you make up to six maps available offline).

Download Maps For Offline Use

Generally, the map material can be downloaded by state or — if it is a small one — country. To download new maps, go to Settings and Data Management, then Click here to download or update offline data. Before you start downloading maps, make sure you have enough storage space left on your device. If necessary, change the default storage directory, which I explain one paragraph further down. When you’re ready, select up to 10 maps in the free version and start downloading.

OsmAND Map Download

Customize Basic Navigation Settings

While you are downloading maps, return to the app’s Settings menu and click General. Choose the map and screen orientation you like best, change the display language, pick your preferred unit of measure (default is the metric system), and change the storage directory.

Note that you cannot move map material from one storage location to another within the app. Of course you can change the storage location and manually move maps or manage multiple storage locations. When you do move maps, delete the ind.cache file in the original storage location, and restart the app. This will force OsmAnd to re-index your maps.

OsmAnd Basic Settings

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Back in the Settings menu, go to Navigation to customize your profiles for car-, bicycle, or pedestrian-based navigation. You can choose an online or offline navigation service and various map behaviors. Be sure to select a language pack to enable voice guidance.

Searching For Places To Navigate To

Return to the start screen and select Search. You can choose between six different search modes: POI (point of interest), address, coordinates, favorites, history, and transportation. To navigate to a specific location, tap the house symbol and enter the region, i.e. one of your downloaded maps, city, and street. Once you found your destination, you can immediately navigate to it, set it as destination or waypoint, show it on the map, or add it to your favorites via the respective icons at the bottom.

OsmAnd Navigation

The one major drawback I found with OsmAnd is that you cannot enter a house number. Also adding an intersecting street never worked for me. This made me briefly use another app, which I bitterly regretted; I had to find a workaround.

Finding The Exact House Number

The workaround for the lack of house number support is to enter the exact latitude and longitude of your destination. Unless you already happen to know the coordinates in degrees, minutes, and seconds, you can look them up online using a geographical localization tool based on the Google Maps API. Simply enter the address and copy the latitude and longitude into OsmAnd. Do save the location as a favorite with a proper name; just in case something goes wrong.

Google Maps Latitude Longitude

Navigating To Your Destination

Once you have entered the navigation data, return to the map and open the menu via the button in the bottom left. Here you can review your current Destination and Waypoints, and Stop navigation in case you already started. To start, click Directions, select your mode of transportation, and choose whether you want to just see the route or follow it with directions.

OsmAnd Navigate Destination and Waypoints

Once your route has been calculated, you can view the Route details via the menu button in the bottom left of the map. From the Route details view you can also save the route as GPX track. While navigation is active, you can return to the menu to toggle sound off or on.

OsmAnd Route Details

Configure Your Navigation Screen

Per default, the distance to your destination or waypoint, time left, and your speed are displayed in the top right. Street names and directions are shown in the top left. To customize those default settings, click the menu button in the bottom left and switch to Configure screen. Choose the profile you would like to edit (world, car, bicycle, pedestrian) and check or uncheck boxes to your liking.

OsmAnd Map Settings

Did You Arrive Safe & Sound?

What I liked most about OsmAnd was its ease of use. It did take some trial and a couple of U-turns to understand what exactly the app meant with turning slightly right or left (really depends on what your options are) and figure out a reliable workaround for the street address dilemma, but once those initial obstacles were cleared, OsmAnd & I cruised along smoothly.

Do you have more tips for navigating with OsmAnd? Or if you have another favorite GPS app, what makes it better than OsmAnd? Please share your experience in the comments!

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