Over the previous five articles I have analysed each mapping software package in detail, and in this article I will summarise what I think are the key points about each system, and then make some recommendations about which system might suit different types of users. In the introduction I told you some details about me, to help you understand whether my views are relevant to you. The same caveat applies here, so if your usage is different to mine, then my opinions and recommendations might not be very useful for you.
Anquet Outdoor Map Navigator
What do I like best? High-definition OS mapping. An active customer support forum and early-preview beta programme. A quality app that feels aligned and fully integrated with the PC application. The cloud sync which automatically makes your library available across all your devices.
What would I change? The line rendering makes your routes appear jagged and gappy. It has no undo feature, although Anquet promise that this is coming soon. The “GPX Manager” and “GPX Editor” are not the most intuitive way of managing your content because they feel like two separate things, and I’d prefer a single library. Harvey maps used to be available but have now been removed (and I miss them!)
I would particularly recommend this to users who jump between multiple devices frequently, and want the same user experience and content to be available on their PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices automatically.
What do I like best? The best option for control freaks! You can control every attribute of every point on every route, track, waypoint or area you create, and organise these however you like using folders and layers. The formatting options are unbeatable. The powerful printing system (with or without the paid plugin). The unlimited undo feature, which you take for granted until you use another product that doesn’t have it. The best search feature going, as you can filter by area. All the useful tools (eg. copy coordinate to clipboard, text import, sync cursor on aerial view). Its support for “areas”, which aren’t in the GPX standard, but are very useful to me.
What would I change? The “power user” features that I love can make it intimidating to new users, and the help and support material available doesn’t do the product justice. The maps by subscription are slow to load (my internet connection is definitely not the limiting factor). It’s a shame that subscription maps can’t be accessed on the mobile app or printed different scales. I would also like to see high-definition OS maps available, and Harvey maps if possible. Then it would be nearly perfect.
I would particularly recommend this to “power users” who want full control over their content, prefer a conventional file-based approach rather than cloud or database storage, and don’t mind the quirks of the subscription system or are happy to buy map tiles.
Mapyx Quo gets my “best for advanced users” recommendation.
What do I like best? High-definition OS mapping. A good range of features to cater for most users’ needs, without being over-complicated. A polished user experience that makes it easy to install and use. Good formatting options. Good options for organising your routes, tracks and waypoints into folders. A good 3D view including 3D flythrough. A good undo feature that lets you go back 10 steps. Basically it’s all good.
What would I change? Not much actually, except adding Harvey mapping. Smaller improvements would include better provision of aerial imagery, either by integrating it into the main application, or at least providing a Google Maps link that takes you to a specific pin and not just an area. Also adding a “copy coordinate to clipboard” feature to the right-click menu.
I would particularly recommend this to users who want a comprehensive set of features and a polished user experience, including a fully-featured mobile app.
Memory-Map gets my “best for intermediate users” recommendation.
What do I like best? It’s extremely easy to use and comes with features that tick all the main boxes without adding unnecessary complexity. I imagine that features have been specifically chosen to keep it this way, as many users will be new to digital mapping as they only became aware of apps like these after getting a digital access code with their printed map. There are a variety of interesting maps available aside from usual OS leisure maps, including the Greenspace map which is very useful. The user interface of the web application and mobile app are consistent and provide a seamless user experience. The 3D flythrough is the “best in class”.
What would I change? The printing functionality has huge margins which waste paper. There is no way of organising your routes into folders. You can only view one route at once, and there is no support for waypoints. I can’t understand why there is no support for high-definition maps, as OS own the maps, and own this product! Update Feb 2021: A distant contact at the OS has advised that the high-definition maps are in CMYK colour, which is technically “wrong” for displaying on-screen.
I would particularly recommend this to users who want to keep it simple, without unnecessary bells and whistles, and are only interested in Ordnance Survey mapping.
OS Maps gets my “best for beginner users” recommendation.
What do I like best? The innovative storage mechanism which lets you create “place files” for each project and also keeps a “library” of all the content you’ve ever made. The line formatting which has the direction-of-travel arrows drawn inside the line. Harvey maps are available.
What would I change? The software has not been updated since 2013. There us no usable search unless you pay £19.99 for some road maps from 2012, and no GPX export or printing unless you pay £39.99 for a license upgrade.
What do I like best? The app is excellent, which isn’t surprising as this is an “app-first” product. There is a large range of map series available. Social features are integrated thoroughly into the product. The “snap to path” feature is the best in class. There is an excellent range of international mapping available.
What would I change? The web interface is basic. The print options are extremely basic. There are few formatting options. You can only view one route at once. There is no support for waypoints.
I would particularly recommend this to people who will use the app more than a PC application (although if you are more interested in mobile apps, I’d recommend finding alternative reviews, as they haven’t been the main focus of my analysis).
Please note that ViewRanger has recently been acquired and is undergoing some changes. If you’re considering ViewRanger then it’s worth doing some research on this area.
I think it’s great that there is so much variety in this sector, as there are lots of different use cases and in my opinion there is no single best system (at the moment). Most of the publishers I’ve covered here are small businesses, and the best ones are responsive to their customers and keen to improve. Some of them provide support forums or even early-access beta releases for customers willing to help improve their products.
In the future I may write another article about the state of the industry as a whole, as it appears to me that innovation in this sector has slowed down over the past few years. I wonder whether this is because the market was relatively small to begin with, and has hit “saturation point”. It’s possibly due to the actions of the Ordnance Survey, who left a gap in the market for a long time, before improving its own product recently and possibly squeezing out smaller competitors.
If you are reading this and work for one of the software publishers I’ve covered in my article, please do reach out if you’re interested in giving me an insight into this, or if you feel that your product has been misrepresented here. I do plan on keeping the articles up-to-date as new releases occur, but there will inevitably be a delay, and obviously I can’t guarantee that there isn’t something I’ve missed.
As I mentioned in the introduction, this comparison has taken around 100 hours to put together, and cost me several hundred pounds along the way. I paid for all the software myself and I am not affiliated with any of the publishers. If you found this article useful or if you just like what I’ve done, feel free to donate a few £ to help offset the amount I ended up spending! The idea for this article evolved organically and I only realised how much it would cost, once I had already become determined to finish it…
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this useful.