I drafted this review before we left for based on my initial impressions, but I only have great things to say about it so far. It really frustrates me when I am running late for a train, tour, etc and I get lost, so to save myself some headaches this app has seen a lot of use!
I downloaded the CityMaps2Go app by Ulmon before I left for our trip, and stocked it full of helpful maps. I tested out the free version first, which allows you to download the maps and “wiki plus” articles for two cities. The maps for Paris and Venice were so helpful, I decided to buy the full app ($1.99 for unlimited map downloads) and the wiki plus in-app purchase ($2.99 for unlimited wiki plus downloads).
So far, I’ve got overwhelmingly positive things to say about it. There are a few limitations, but overall, this is will worth the few dollars I paid for the app!
- Widespread availability: This app had maps for every city on our trip (you download each city individually), and for my home city here in the US. I downloaded my home city to test it out, and discovered the next feature on the list.
- Offline pinpointed location: This is one of the most helpful pieces – the app provides you with an estimate of your location without using any data. The phone uses the cell service to give you an approximate location (accuracy is a circle of roughly 500 feet in diameter). This location service ties in to some of the other features of the app.
- Orientation: The other great thing about the pinpointed location is that you have the option to use the typical map view, where the screen stays static as you walk around, or you can enable the orientation feature. When you swing around in a circle, the app shows you which way you (and the phone) are facing. This would be very helpful so you don’t start walking in the wrong direction!
- Battery life: The app surprisingly uses very little battery. I left the app open on my phone all day on Monday to test it out, and it dropped from 100% charge to about 50% charge in 12-14 hours. When I’m actively using it to read Wikipedia entries or to get directions, it does drain the battery faster, but I haven’t had it run out during the day yet.
- Easy to use: Very similar to Google Maps, it allows zooming in and out in “map view” (but there is no satellite view or street view). The street and place names adjust in size as you zoom, as does the level of detail. You can see city and town names when zoomed out, but you can see individual bus stations and coffee shops when zoomed in.
- Save “favorites”: You can add places you want to visit before you travel, and see on the map when you are close to these locations.
- Search tool: The ability to search works fairly well, I was able to locate everything I wanted to find, even if it did take me a couple tries for some things.
- Wiki Plus: The wiki plus option for the cities was a great addition. You can download just the map or you can choose the full map + articles, which is like having a mini tour guide in your pocket.
- Easy access to lists of:
- all tourist attractions, or all museums, etc.
- restaurants and coffee shops by distance from you.
- public transport stops by distance from you.
- drugstores and hospitals by distance from you.
- all Wikipedia articles loaded for that city, by name, distance, or relevance.
- The search tool is a little challenging at first. After two attempted searches each, I was able to locate Notre Dame Cathedral and Sacre Coeur. The catch is that the map names are in the country’s language – so searching for “Notre Dame Cathedral” won’t actually give you any results. I searched “Notre Dame” and selected from a list of the most popular items named Notre Dame. Also, spelling something like Sacre Coeur incorrectly won’t yield you any results either – the app does not provide suggested spellings.
- The maps are separate for each city, so you would need a different program to get a full country map or connecting routes between cities.
- The only other drawbacks to this app are more of features I wished it had, more than actual faults with the program. It would be nice to have:
- the ability to get directions
- a voice-based Wikipedia article reader, so you could listen to the article while looking at the tourist attraction instead of staring at a tiny screen.
All in all, I’m glad I downloaded the app before we left. It’s definitely been worth the cost!
Do you have any favorite travel apps? Do you prefer an old-fashioned paper map? Or do you prefer just to get lost and wander one way or another?