Saturday, April 3, 2010

A few tips and tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of Scenic Map:

The sun icon in the tool bar at the top of the screen is used to adjust the lighting direction. By default the lighting comes from the top left of the screen. When you click the sun icon the first time, you will see a large white highlight in the upper left of the screen that represents the light source. Why the upper left? Well this is the standard lighting direction for many shaded terrain maps. If you hold the screen in front of you, chances are that the light source in the room, or the sun in the sky, will be above the display. Placing the simulated terrain light source to one side makes it easier to tell the slope of the terrain.

To change the lighting direction click the sun icon and then drag the glowing light around the screen. You will see the map update with new shading as you drag the light. To return the light to its default direction, tap the screen with two fingers.

On the iPad, all the tabs along the bottom of the screen are always visible and accessible. On the iPhone and iPod Touch, only five tabs can be displayed at one time. Since there are a total of eight tabs, the fifth tab has been replaced with the More... button. If you click More, you will see a list of additional tabs that are currently hidden. You can access them directly from the list or click the Edit button to rearrange the tabs on the screen however you wish. If you select a tab item from the More list, you can return to the More screen by clicking the More button once more (no more mores!)

The Settings tab will display three options: Show Status Bar, Opaque Interface and Enable Tracking. By default, the status bar is always visible along the top of the screen. If you are like me, you may prefer to see the map full screen without the status bar. If so, turn off the Show Status Bar option and it will disappear and bother you no more. If the Opaque Interface is enabled, the tool bar, tab bar, and render options panel will become opaque. This will make the user interface update a bit faster on the older iPhones and iPods. The Enable Tracking option will turn on the GPS all the time to track your current location. This draws a line on the map as you move about. If you not plugged in, enabling tracking can significantly reduce your battery life.

The numbered presets are there to make it easy to switch between map rendering modes. You can change the way the map renders by clicking on the little cog icon in the map's tool bar.

The target icon in the tool bar is used to center the map on your current GPS location. The map won't move until the GPS gets a good fix on your location. Once it does, you will see a blue dot in the center of the screen. If you move the dot will turn into an arrow to show your direction. If the map does not cover the area where you are located, the background of the map will be a light blue color (as if you were in the middle of the ocean). This just means that there is no data where you are. Don't panic! You can get back to a point on the map by using the City Search or Locations tab (these may be in the More menu on the iPhone or iPod Touch).

The City Search shows a list of cities and large towns in the area covered by the map data. Cities and towns that are not in the covered area will not be listed. If you are using Scenic Map West Coast and want to visit the Hawaiian Islands, you can get there by scrolling the map a long way to the southwest or you could just select a town in Hawaii from the City Search list. To find a city, enter the name of one you know (like Hilo) or search for HI to see a list of towns in Hawaii.

That should keep you busy for a while. Please do leave comments on this blog if you have questions about any feature of the program or want to suggest features you would like to see in future versions of the apps.


  1. As best I can tell, this is a useless rip-off. Can't find a single useful perspective. I can imagine it as a wallpaper creator but nothing else.

  2. I published this comment above even though it is really not the kind of feedback I am looking for. I would greatly appreciate some constructive ideas about how you want the app to work. The Grand Canyon version is free so that you can try using Scenic Map before deciding to purchase it. I am glad you feel that Scenic Map produces images of high enough quality to be used as wall paper.

  3. I like the maps, and imagine they will only get better.