Phone GPS for Dummies

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Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Ms_Mudd » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 8:33 am

This is taking a bit of bravery, so go gently with me.

I am wanting to do away with paper maps altogether, they are cumbersome and I usually just end up having to tape them together with 5kg of tape (okay, an exaggeration) after much folding and unfolding. Plus at $19.95 a pop , they are expensive and soon will be obsolete anyway. I do not do a lot of offtrack stuff and if I had that planned for a trip, I would definitely use paper topos anyway. I just want to be able to look at my location in relation to where I am headed, identify how hard the going is likely to be, potential water sources etc.

Laugh if you will, but in a pinch I have used Strava mapping to work out my location when I have been in doubt. It worked :oops: :lol:

I have OSMand on my phone. I just got a Telstra Tough Max 3,which is what I am using. I still also own a working Samsung Galaxy A5 2017. I also carry a Garmin Inreach Mini and have the associated Garmin Earthmate App.

I *think* I downloaded the NSW maps for OSM, I bought the subscription version, magically thinking that would enable me to know how to get the most out of it. It didn't.
Is OSM the best app for me to be utilsing? I need simple, user friendly. I have trawled threads and see Gaia mentioned a lot.

In my thread trawling, I have tried to work out the answers to my questions myself, but I just end up with information overload.

I just need to be told which platform to use by those in the know and hand held through the set up and basic functions a little. Pointing me at reliable, simple youtube videos is fine too. I have had no luck with this on my own, as much like thread studying, I end up too flooded with info that may or may not be relevant.

Thank you in advance for any thread respondents generosity and patience in helping me.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 9:01 am

I can't give you a direct answer to your question, partly because there is no one app that will be ideal for everybody, and also because I use iPhones and write my own mapping app for my own uses (which I don't currently sell on the app store).

However, even having what is the perfect (for me) mapping GPS and navigation app on my phone, I alway still take a paper map. I reckon that electronics should be treated as unstable and unreliable when bushwalking, even the ruggedised, extra battery, waterproof phones. Who knows, a bug in the OS or app could hit at just the wrong moment (actually happened to me once when trying to navigate off track and my app crashed and I couldn't get it to run again - dodgy app developer, I guess). I was stuck with no navigation aids... until I pulled out the paper map.

It's good to find the right app for you (sooooo much easier than map and compass), but a paper map and compass (and knowing how to use them) is still important, in my opinion.

These days though, you don't have to buy a paper map. I just print out the sections that I need and take them (in a waterproof zip-lock bag).

Sorry for the side track, and I hope somebody else points you to the most suitable app(s) for your uses.
Last edited by Son of a Beach on Mon 07 Sep, 2020 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby tastrax » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 9:01 am

The beauty of using OSM based maps is that you can also update them if you find things missing. As you also have the OSMAND subscription version then you can get regular updates, unlike in some apps that may only update annually. Drop any specific questions here and I will see if I can answer them for you. I will also check online for good documents that might help.
Cheers - Phil

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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby johnrs » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 9:44 am

Hi Ms Mudd
Try Avenza, it works for me and I am a dummy.
Maps are $1.49 from the map store or free if you download them from Six Maps (NSW topo)
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Lamont » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 10:29 am

I am a dummy and use OSM, but am following as well.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby tastrax » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 11:31 am

OK - here are my top tips for using OSMAND for a walker

  • Three lines - bottom left - Maps and Resources, Australia and Oceania, Australia, find your state, download map and contour lines (and hillshade if you like that sort of stuff)
  • If you have subscription - go back to Maps and Resources, OSMAND live - turn on live updates, update only on WIFI, update frequency - choose what suits you - Update now, Apply - back to map when finished
  • Top left - click on the globe - change map type to Offroad and make sure under map style that contour lines are turned on - back to map
  • Go to your favorite walking area and see what it looks like
Cheers - Phil

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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Ms_Mudd » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 12:26 pm

tastrax wrote:OK - here are my top tips for using OSMAND for a walker

  • Three lines - bottom left - Maps and Resources, Australia and Oceania, Australia, find your state, download map and contour lines (and hillshade if you like that sort of stuff)
  • If you have subscription - go back to Maps and Resources, OSMAND live - turn on live updates, update only on WIFI, update frequency - choose what suits you - Update now, Apply - back to map when finished
  • Top left - click on the globe - change map type to Offroad and make sure under map style that contour lines are turned on - back to map
  • Go to your favorite walking area and see what it looks like


Great! Thank you. I need explicit instructions such as these. Shall boil the kettle and sit down with my phone shortly and report back.

Lamont, I have read some of your technical posts, especially re:photography and a dummy you are not.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Ms_Mudd » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 2:35 pm

Blimey, that is great!!! I can even see how I can set it to take me from point to point if need be. It even 'knows' the huts in the area.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby tastrax » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 2:56 pm

:D :D Thats the best thing about OSM - maps made by interested users. You put on the map what you want/need ... for all to use/update as things change.
Cheers - Phil

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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Ms_Mudd » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 3:12 pm

Thanks Phil, you gave me a starting point to start playing with the app- absolutely what I needed to do, just didn't know where to begin.
I had a play with a few routes that I am familiar with and plotting them out via OSM, the distances came out how I expected they would, I even got a 'turn by turn' set of directions.
So now that I have downloaded all of the NSW maps, they are available offline? Can I use them in aeroplane mode?
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Baka Dasai » Mon 07 Sep, 2020 9:28 pm

Ms_Mudd wrote:...So now that I have downloaded all of the NSW maps, they are available offline? Can I use them in aeroplane mode?


Yes, you can use them in aeroplane mode.

My process for using OSMAnd is:

1. Before the trip I plot out the route using https://www.alltrails.com (it's easier on a computer than on a phone).
2. On Alltrails I save the route as a GPX, and then upload it to Google Drive.
3. In OSMAnd I import the GPX file from Google Drive (Three lines - bottom left - GPX Files... - Add More...).
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby keithy » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 1:38 am

I've used OSMAnd+ (the paid version), and it is a fine app.

There are other good apps I've previously used as well, like Locus Maps Pro, but I have settled on Oruxmaps since 2015.

On your thread searching, you might have noticed a few people here using Oruxmaps as well.

Oruxmaps requires a little more setup but you can use all manner of free OSM and other map formats. I've used my own scanned maps, user created Garmin format IMG file maps, OSM maps in both Garmin IMG and map formats, mbtiles maps packages, and geopdfs. Geopdfs is handy as I can get Georeferenced PDF maps from the state land authority and now just view them without having to convert them or use different apps.

The Oruxmaps developer has been adding so much to it since I first started using it in earnest, and now I use it to connect to my ANT+ sensors (like temperature/heart rate sensors/cadence sensors).

Once it's set up though, it's pretty straight forward to use.

I use this fully offline - usually on a phone without a simcard. Before a trip, I will make sure I have the appropriate topo map saved on my phone or sdcard, and the associated DEM files also installed. I sometimes go off track, and have used Oruxmaps in a few different countries, and I usually check my digital topo maps against a paper one. I have found that tracks were usually marked better on current OSM maps than some maps.

With Oruxmaps you can create routes manually in the app, and this is one of the things I use most often. This is something I used to do on my Garmin Handheld GPS units, but it is so much quicker on the phone and Oruxmaps. For example, I'm at at my camp, and I want to do a few side trips - I will plan the routes on Oruxmaps, using DEM info and topo maps and I will get an idea of how long the daytrips will take me, where water sources might be, etc. Using DEM data, it will colour code the route (eg. red for uphill, blue for downhill) so I can see which bits I will be slow on. OSM topo maps are handy for things like water sources and springs that might not be marked on paper maps.

If you are keen on trying it out, it's free (available as install from their website) Google took down nixed their free version on the Play store as the app just had a donation link (eg. donate what you want) which Google does not like when they updated their payments policy. The paid version Oruxmaps GP (previously called Oruxmaps Donate) is available on Google Play.

The free version is exactly the same as the paid version and you can find it here: https://www.oruxmaps.com/cs/en/more/downloads

Click on "Current Version" which is currently https://www.oruxmaps.com/vers/OruxMaps7.4.23.apk

This will download the apk file which you will need to install manually on your phone

There is a good PDF manual here https://www.oruxmaps.com/s/en/manual

I am happy to send you more instructions on how to get it up and running, installation and setup and links for free topo maps if you want to give it a go.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby keithy » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 1:40 am

Ms_Mudd wrote: I just got a Telstra Tough Max 3,


I am currently reviewing a cheapie ruggedised "tough" phone and in my review I'm mentioning the Telstra Tough Max 3 as well. I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on how it performs.

The previous Telstra Tough Max models (ZTE phones) had some issues with the antennas, especially if you used the external RF socket.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby north-north-west » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 7:38 am

tastrax wrote:OK - here are my top tips for using OSMAND for a walker

  • Three lines - bottom left - Maps and Resources, Australia and Oceania, Australia, find your state, download map and contour lines (and hillshade if you like that sort of stuff)
  • If you have subscription - go back to Maps and Resources, OSMAND live - turn on live updates, update only on WIFI, update frequency - choose what suits you - Update now, Apply - back to map when finished
  • Top left - click on the globe - change map type to Offroad and make sure under map style that contour lines are turned on - back to map
  • Go to your favorite walking area and see what it looks like


Phil, one of these days I may want to borrow you for a while to try to get my new phone set up properly and install a suitable GPS app. This little cybercretin is even more technologically challenged than the Muddster.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Lamont » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 8:01 am

north-north-west wrote:
tastrax wrote:OK - here are my top tips for using OSMAND for a walker

  • Three lines - bottom left - Maps and Resources, Australia and Oceania, Australia, find your state, download map and contour lines (and hillshade if you like that sort of stuff)
  • If you have subscription - go back to Maps and Resources, OSMAND live - turn on live updates, update only on WIFI, update frequency - choose what suits you - Update now, Apply - back to map when finished
  • Top left - click on the globe - change map type to Offroad and make sure under map style that contour lines are turned on - back to map
  • Go to your favorite walking area and see what it looks like


Phil, one of these days I may want to borrow you for a while to try to get my new phone set up properly and install a suitable GPS app. This little cybercretin is even more technologically challenged than the Muddster.

No, no, no I am THE cyber cretin and I use that format above. Once you have the app downloaded and you can see what's being referred to in Phil's post you can go from there. If that's what your saying and you haven't seen OSM?
I like the ability to get distances between spots and averages like speed if I am doing some training or whatever. I think you can even get an elevation gained/lost in OSM? I went through all the unpaid apps to trial them about four years ago with the idea to pay when I found a suitable model (there was at the time one -the only Australian app- black interface bloke in Sydney, I liked and I paid for it but can't find it now) use. I paid for something in OSM was it the contours (?)and download it onto your SD card in your phone so as you change phones it comes with you.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby north-north-west » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 9:26 am

Mate, I can't even get the phone to recognise email addresses that have been in existence for at least 15 years, much less go online and download apps. The damn thing *&^%$#@! me no end. The idea was to have a compact backup camera and GPS for walking, but I can't get it to do anything right. It may be smart, but it's not a form of intelligence I recognise or can cope with.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Lamont » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 11:47 am

north-north-west wrote:Mate, I can't even get the phone to recognise email addresses that have been in existence for at least 15 years, much less go online and download apps. The damn thing *&^%$#@! me no end. The idea was to have a compact backup camera and GPS for walking, but I can't get it to do anything right. It may be smart, but it's not a form of intelligence I recognise or can cope with.

Old/dodgy phone?
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby north-north-west » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 1:12 pm

It's brand new, but I'm obviously doing something wrong trying to set it up. That's why I originally said " ... set up my new phone ... "
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Ms_Mudd » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 2:44 pm

Baka Dasai wrote:
Ms_Mudd wrote:...So now that I have downloaded all of the NSW maps, they are available offline? Can I use them in aeroplane mode?


Yes, you can use them in aeroplane mode.

My process for using OSMAnd is:

1. Before the trip I plot out the route using https://www.alltrails.com (it's easier on a computer than on a phone).
2. On Alltrails I save the route as a GPX, and then upload it to Google Drive.
3. In OSMAnd I import the GPX file from Google Drive (Three lines - bottom left - GPX Files... - Add More...).

I am going to give that a go for an upcoming trip, it sounds a bit fancy, but broken down like that, seems achievable for me-surely I can do it now that I am a whizz at OSM :wink:


keithy wrote:
I am currently reviewing a cheapie ruggedised "tough" phone and in my review I'm mentioning the Telstra Tough Max 3 as well. I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on how it performs.

So far so good with it. I have dropped it already and smashed the (supplied) screen protector after only owning it for two weeks. Sums up why I thought I would get a more rugged phone this time around. Easy fix though, buy another screen protector for a few bucks and it will be good as new.
The camera seems a bit glitchy, but again, I am not tech savvy so I may have set it up a bit weirdly. It seems to do everything I want it to seamlessly and the battery life is pretty impressive.
I just wanted something I could throw in a pack, running vest, or in my stem bag on my bike and go for it, without molly coddling. Hopefully it ends up a good phone for me.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Ms_Mudd » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 4:47 pm

Baka Dasai wrote:
Ms_Mudd wrote:..
2. On Alltrails I save the route as a GPX, and then upload it to Google Drive.
3. In OSMAnd I import the GPX file from Google Drive (Three lines - bottom left - GPX Files... - Add More...).

Made a cool route for my upcoming trip on alltrails, but my computer doesnt seem to support saving it as a gpx file. Any hints?
Edited to add- dont know how I did it...but I did it!!!!! It looks amazing, have dropped waypoints at my intended stop overs over night and it calculated distances traveled, elevation gain/loss etc. Amazing.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby north-north-west » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 5:15 pm

Ms_Mudd wrote:
Baka Dasai wrote:
Ms_Mudd wrote:..
2. On Alltrails I save the route as a GPX, and then upload it to Google Drive.
3. In OSMAnd I import the GPX file from Google Drive (Three lines - bottom left - GPX Files... - Add More...).

Made a cool route for my upcoming trip on alltrails, but my computer doesnt seem to support saving it as a gpx file. Any hints?
Edited to add- dont know how I did it...but I did it!!!!! It looks amazing, have dropped waypoints at my intended stop overs over night and it calculated distances traveled, elevation gain/loss etc. Amazing.

When you're trying something new, make notes at each step. If it works, you then know how you did it. If not, you know not to try that again.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Lamont » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 5:21 pm

Hope you don't mind Muddy but I found the app I used a few years back-then it was very battery light and the creator keeps a web site to support the app for Qs.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... e&hl=en_AU might be worth a play for someone. The free version will give you an elevation map of your walk. Free version to try it out.
Nice big home screen layout. I believe it was the first Oz centric bushwalking app.
Osmand free version https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... d&hl=en_AU.
'Contours Plug in' is $7.99 now. https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... d&hl=en_AU
Do you have this Muddy?
Didn't find the 'Shading plug in' much chop back then.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Snooze » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 5:40 pm

Baka Dasai wrote:
Ms_Mudd wrote:...So now that I have downloaded all of the NSW maps, they are available offline? Can I use them in aeroplane mode?


Yes, you can use them in aeroplane mode.

My process for using OSMAnd is:

1. Before the trip I plot out the route using https://www.alltrails.com (it's easier on a computer than on a phone).
2. On Alltrails I save the route as a GPX, and then upload it to Google Drive.
3. In OSMAnd I import the GPX file from Google Drive (Three lines - bottom left - GPX Files... - Add More...).


I don't want to hijack this thread (in which I've been lurking with great interest.) My question to Baka Dasai is: do I need to subscribe to Alltrails ($25 a year, isn't it?) to do the three steps outlined above?

Thanks.
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Snooze » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 8:26 pm

DW. Just had a play with Alltrails and answered my own question. I seem to have successfully plotted and saved a route (without a paid subscription.)
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Re: Phone GPS for Dummies

Postby Ms_Mudd » Tue 08 Sep, 2020 9:24 pm

I have managed to do two routes too now as well. I had wondered myself re: All trails subscription, but not necessary as you also found.
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