OpenTrail - Freemap for Android
Freemap has a full featured Android app - OpenTrail. It provides many of the features of a typical OSM mobile app, but with a few unique features, in particular the ability to report path problems and add points of interest and path directions in the field, as well as present these live to you in the field while you are out walking.
What can you do with OpenTrail?
- View OpenStreetMap-derived maps of the majority of England (Wales and Scotland not covered just yet) showing public rights of way in the same colour scheme as Freemap itself together with Ordnance Survey LandForm PANORAMA contours. The maps are rendered using the Mapsforge library and initially downloaded to your device, and then stored on the device or SD card.
- Add annotations to the map in-the-field, which can be shared with other users. These can be anything you like (within reason!) and are added to Freemap's annotations database. So you can share points of interest, interesting views, path directions in awkward places, and path blockages with other users. Then, when someone else uses OpenTrail later on, details of that annotation will be presented to them in the field. It's my aim with Freemap and OpenTrail to produced a crowd-sourced source of information for walkers throughout the country. Note that the annotations will have to be authorised before going live; this should normally be done within 24 hours.
- View annotations and directions in-the-field contributed by other users. So, if you find yourself in the middle of a large field with no apparent way out, OpenTrail will tell you where to aim for!
- Download and "play" walking routes from Freemap. As you may know, you can create walking routes on the main Freemap site; these can be downloaded into OpenTrail (as GPX files with waypoints for each stage of the route) and "played" on your device. So, when you get to the start of the next stage of the walk, the instructions will be presented to you live in-the-field.
- Record new walking routes and save them as GPX files. These can be uploaded to Freemap and shared with other users. Theoretically this functionality can of course be used to survey new data for OSM, though the app is not optimised for this.
- Find nearby points of interest (but that's pretty standard for an OSM mobile app). The POIs are obtained from the Freemap server and consequently this functionality is only available in areas with Freemap coverage.
- Save annotations on the device for later upload, reducing the need for network access in-the-field. Also, annotations and POIs are cached on the device, meaning that after initial network access, the app can be used completely offline if desired.
- OpenTrail 0.3, works on Android 4.0+. Uses Mapsforge 0.8. Downloads live mapping data from the Freemap server and caches it on the device, thus combining up-to-date data and offline use. This allows you to download the maps at home and use them in the field offline - without a network connection. Cache may be cleared by the user, allowing the maps to be updated at any time.
- OpenTrail 0.2 was started but abandoned in favour of 0.3; basically it was 0.3 minus the live mapping data.
- OpenTrail 0.1, works on Android 2.1+. Uses an older version (0.3) of Mapsforge.
Please read this before downloading!
If there are any things you would like to see added, or have ideas for features that could make it to the next release, please email me (Nick Whitelegg, nickw on OSM)
Looking for augmented reality?
If you were at SOTM or SOTM-EU in 2011, you may remember that I presented an early version of OpenTrail featuring augmented reality, overlaying OSM data on the device's camera feed. OpenTrail no longer includes this functionality, however the AR is still very much in development! Because it is experimental, it has been moved to its own app, Hikar. See here.
OpenTrail is an open-source application (GPL; libraries are LGPL): see the Freemap github page, OpenTrail source is in the "java" directory.
OpenTrail does not currently send any personal information (such as your Google login) to the Freemap server. All data sent (i.e. your notes and their location, and your walk routes including latitude and longitude of your track) is completely anonymous. The Freemap site administrator will then authorise your data if it is legitimate and non-offensive. It is planned in a future version to allow you to login to Freemap via OpenTrail. Even then, login information will only be used to allow auto-authorisation of contributions by legitimate users.