Sunday, July 12, 2015

Search And Rescue Review

Powerful tool for Helicopter Search & Rescue ★★★★
by jpavionics - Version - 1.7 - Jul 1, 2015
I’ve been utilizing this app as a back up to the onboard navigation equipment. Its helped with identifying names and locations of local landmarks, roads, and popular trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail which is well marked within the app. The only downside to this app is that it requires around 2GB of memory on your device to store the 3D maps. But for what I do, I’m more than willing to give up that space on my phone/ipad for that. It would be nice if maps could be downloaded in sections, like maybe by state or region to take up less space. The only reason I give it 4 stars is because there is always room for improvement. I’d like to see an option that lets you calculate distance between two points. Right now it only has the option to calc distance from present position to your objective. For the price of the app and In-app Purchase, this is the best tool for the SAR community that I’ve used so far. I’ve paired my phone with a Bad Elf GPS Rx’r for better SAT reception when the phones onboard Rx’r just won’t cut it. The app eats up battery quick so when using it for extended searches/Nav, make sure you’ve got an external battery.

-Thanks jpavionics! This type of feedback is what inspires me to continue to develop and improve my apps. You may like the new Scenic Map app which downloads the map data by degree and caches it for use when offline.

To calculate the distance between two points while recording a GPS track, tap the info button to activate the compass rose. Move it to the first point. Tap the Waypoints tab and then tap the + button in the toolbar to create a waypoint. Name it whatever you want. Tap on the gold star next to the new waypoint you just created. It will turn red indicating it is the selected waypoint. Tap on a map preset tab to return to the map. Move the cursor to the second point. The bearing line will now stretch between the selected waypoint and the point under the compass rose at the center of the map. The top info bar will display the range and distance to that point. You can optionally create another waypoint for the second point which will allow you to go back to that point again or mark it as the selected waypoint if you want to find the range and bearing to other points. Don't forget to deselect the waypoint if you want to use your current GPS location as the start of the bearing line again.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Scenic Map 1.7.2 and 1.7.3

New GPS Center Lock Options

Scenic Map 1.7.2 is now released on the iOS the App Store. As the screenshot above shows, you can now choose Stop Recording Track by tapping on the lock icon in the toolbar. This allows you to start tracking, lock the center of the screen to your current location and stop tracking all from the same button.

The other new feature is in-app documentation. This feature was requested by several users so that they can look up how features of the app work even when they are not online. The in-app documentation is still found at the top of the Settings menu (tap on the cog icon in the toolbar and select Help). This feature is only available in iOS 8 and later. It is a snapshot of the online documentation and will be updated automatically when your device is connected to the internet via WiFi. You can now search the documentation for keywords and then step through the results by tapping the Search button on the keyboard. You can still access other online features such as the tutorial videos.

The two finger 3D map tilt gesture has been reversed to match the one in Apple Maps. This may be confusing at first but consistency of gestures among apps is important. Swipe up with two fingers to tilt the map from 2D into 3D mode. Swipe down to tilt the map from 3D into a vertical 2D mode.

Several of the items in the Settings menu have been renamed to make them easier to understand. Manu bugs have been fixed and the Online Map should load faster and more reliably.

Scenic Map Grand Canyon was updated to 1.7.3 to fix the Alternate Roads option which appears when you enable the Online Map (available with an in-app purchase). Otherwise it is identical to 1.7.2.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Scenic Map 1.7 Adds Worldwide Online Coverage

Pierrefitte-Nestalas, France. Pierrefitte-Nestalas is a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in south-western France.
Scenic Map version 1.7 is beginning a rolling release beginning with Scenic Map Grand Canyon. The big new version of this version is world wide coverage via cached online data. Grand Canyon and You Need A Map will get this feature via an in-app purchase while all other versions get it for free.

The online map data is hosted by Apple using their CloudKit feature introduced in iOS 8.0. The bandwidth and usage of CloudKit will need to be managed so as not to exceed Apple's quotas. This is the reason for the rolling release. Apple gives a larger quota as more people use the data service so the first two apps will be Grand Canyon and You Need A Map which have a very large number of users with relatively few who have the in-app purchase. The rest of the Scenic Map apps will be next as Apple approves them.

There is one more thing: A new app named simply "Scenic Map".  Scenic Map only uses the online maps so the download is small, quick and easy. Scenic Map is free and will be supported by iAds. There is an in-app purchase that upgrades all the features to match those of the other Scenic Map apps and also disables the iAds.

About iAds: There is now an option in the Settings which allows iAds to be turned on in any of the Scenic Map apps. It is off by default but if you want to support Scenic Map or are curious about iAds, feel free to turn it on and off as you wish. iAds are disabled and hidden when there is no connection to Apple's servers. This means that if you don't have a cellular data connection or have cellular data disabled there are no ads. I am encouraging Apple to make better use of the iAd bar to present useful information in addition to ads in future versions of iOS.

Other new features of Scenic Map 1.7:

  • Updated maps with more features, most notably woods and forests are visible in many areas as in the screenshot above.
  • Multiple track display. You can display one track and when you display a second track the first is no longer hidden automatically. You can display as many tracks as you wish.
  • Nautical distance and speed units (requested by airline pilots).
  • Support for iOS8 and iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
  • Seamless worldwide 3D topography maps based on the recently released 30 meter Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data.

  • The Online Maps option is off by default in Scenic Map apps. It is on by default for Grand Canyon and You Need A Map when you buy or restore the in-app purchase.
  • The Cities Locations search defaults to North America cities. Tap the folder icon in the toolbar and select the area of the world and population size you are looking for.
  • Online Maps indicates that data is being loaded with the spinner in the top left corner of the status bar. When the spinner stops, the map is fully loaded.
  • The first time the Online Maps is turned on, it may not redraw the screen after the map has been fully loaded. Just use the zoom in and zoom out icons to force the map to redraw. This bug will be fixed in a minor update and should only occur once.
  • Up to 2GB of online maps are cached automatically. This size will likely become a user option in a future version however even 2GB is enough to cover a huge area of the world.
  • Scrolling adds all visible parts of the map to the download requests. The parts of the map closest to the center of the screen are loaded first.
  • Zooming using the + and - buttons in the toolbar resets the map requests. If you want faster map loading, try zooming in.
  • Don't try caching the map by zooming all the way out. That only loads the low resolution thumbnails. For best detail, cache the map while zoomed in.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Scenic Map 1.7 Call For Beta Testers

Mt. Fuji and greater Tokyo, Japan

Scenic Map 1.7 is nearing completion and you can try it out early. I am using Apple's TestFlight program to beta test the next major upgrade to Scenic Map before it is released. The big new feature is world wide coverage for every paid version of Scenic Map including You Need A Map when you get the in-app purchase. The map data is streamed from Apple's servers and cached on your iOS device. It is based on Open Street Map and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data. The quality can vary based on the location.

World wide coverage and a smaller app download have been the most requested features from Scenic Map users. There will be a new app called simply "Scenic Map" which will contain no map data at all. Its download size is much smaller but it can cache up to 2GB (currently) of any location you visit. I have been testing the data streaming on my drives across Nevada with some of the worst cellular data coverage in the country and it seems to work well.

If you are interested in testing the Scenic Map app, please send me an email from the account you use for your Apple ID and I will add you to the beta testers. I can add up to 1000 of them so I don't think I will run out. I will watch for crash logs so you don't need to do anything other than use the app. Feedback is welcome of course but I am not planning to add any additional features before release of this version. I am very interested in any serious bugs you run into though.

Please send beta invite requests from your Apple ID email account to:

Mark Granger

NOTE: Scenic Map 1.7 is now complete and awaiting App Store review by Apple. There will be future beta versions of the app so if you are interested in trying future beta versions, you can send me a request at the address above at any time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scenic Map 1.6.1 and You Need A Map 1.6.2

All versions of Scenic Map and You Need A Map are now updated to version 1.6.1 on the iOS App Store.

Scenic Map 1.6.1

In addition to fixing a lot of bugs, 1.6.1 also has a few feature enhancements:

Freeway and highway badges will be much more visible in this version.

You can now set the Track line to Hide, Thin and Wide. Some users prefer the thinner line since it obscures less of the map.

The standard map arrow icon is now used to start tracking and center the map on your current GPS location instead of the old cross hairs icon.

You can now start tracking from the Tracks view. Just tap the arrow in the top right corner.

You Need A Map 1.6.2
This update brings all the small feature enhancements and map updates from Scenic Map 1.6 to You Need A Map.

3D maps are now a free feature of the app.

You can now get all the features of Scenic Map including the BLM Lands overlay and advanced search features as an in-app purchase.

The Openstreetmap data has been getting a lot more detailed over the past year. There are now far more buildings, roads and polygons. The less used US Census maps have been replaced by the extra Openstreetmap details in this version in order to keep the total app size under Apple's 2GB limit.

As always, if you have any trouble with the update, please read the Download Tips section on this site.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nevada's BLM Land

Nevada BLM Land Map
When Nevada became a state, very little federal land was turned over to the state government. It was all kept as federal BLM land.Much of the remaining land was allocated as US Forestry Service land and military ranges including the famous area 51. Precious little else was left for private property. In the map above, the salmon pink areas are BLM land. Red is military and green is USFS land, national and state parks. Control over the BLM land of Nevada is in the news currently but there are few good maps available online. I used Scenic Map Western USA to create this map by stitching together several screen shots.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Scenic Map 1.6

Scenic Map 1.6 is currently being uploaded, reviewed and released to the iOS App Store. This is the big update for the year. I expect a minor bug fix update will follow in the near future.

Here are some of the new features: Searching has been greatly enhanced. The three screen shots above show what happens if you type in (or say) "pizza" to the online Local Search feature. A list of nearby pizza locations appears sorted and colored by distance. Tapping on Chicago Fire brings up a list of options. Tap Route to Location to automatically create a route from the center of the map to that location. If you have GPS centering enabled, it will route from your current location. The view then switches to the map where you can see the new route as a green line as well as the other pizza locations that were found.

You can also perform online searches for any address. If you leave the search field blank, the address at the center of the map will be displayed. You can also search for map features even when you are offline. You can find named roads, streams, points of interest, way points, polygons or pretty much anything that appears on the map. The zoom level of the map is used to control the search area. You can even search for generic feature types such as "road". If more than 100 are found, only the matches closest to the center of the map are displayed.

Of course the City Search feature is still there but now greatly enhanced with many more populated places. You can create routes to any of these features when you are online. The automatic routing uses Apple's mapping services. You can also open the destination point in Maps and get turn by turn directions to that location. This way you can listen to for the turn notifications while you are driving while Scenic Map shows you the way even if you are offline for much of the trip. Routes you create in Scenic Map are stored in the Tracks screen just like your GPS tracks. You can even choose to play a route and get a preview of your journey. You can create as many routes as you like while online and then use them when you are offline. You can even export them to other apps as GPX files.

One of the biggest requested features was a BLM Lands overlay. Scenic Map Western, Central and Alaska have a BLM Lands option that you can turn on in the Settings menu. Please keep in mind that this is a static snap shot of the BLM lands database maintained by the US Department of the Interior shortly before Scenic Map 1.6 was released. I will update the map for major app updates. It is possibly that ownership of land can change between updates so please check with the DOI before making use of the BLM Lands map overlay.

Version 1.6 also includes many other new features, enhancements and bug fixes. The iOS 7 user interface is now supported but backwards compatibility has been maintained back to iOS 5.1.1. You can now display the county outlines and get information about which county is at the center of the map. Track times are now displayed in local time thanks to the new time zone database. You can see these on the Tracks screen or when you play back your past trips. Tracks can be sorted by date, name or distance. Polygons are now sorted by size before they are rendered. This makes smaller features stand out in front of larger ones. Smaller buildings are now more visible. Overall the maps should draw faster and use less memory. All known 1.5 bugs have been fixed.

The Open Street Map data set is constantly being improved and increasing in detail. There are now a vast number of buildings in the map. Due to the increase in data size and in order to keep the app size under the Apple 2 GB limit, the western edge of Central USA and Eastern USA had to be reduced by one degree. There is still 5 or 6 degrees of overlay between maps so you should be able to switch between maps before the edge becomes a problem on long drives.

The Canadian data has also gained a very large number of streams and lakes in the northern regions. For this reason Eastern Canada had to have its western edge reduced by one degree and Central Canada had both its western and eastern edges reduced by one degree. There are still at least 9 degrees of overlap between the Canadian maps.

I hope you like the new version of Scenic Map and use it on your summer trips. There will be an update to You Need A Map as well. I need a bit more time to prepare it. It should be ready by the time the minor update for Scenic Map is released.