Getting started with offline maps on Android

Offline maps allow your users the ability to access important map points regardless of internet connectivity. A good example of such an application would be a map-based app that targets tourists as users - namely city information applications. One of these examples is a Hajj App that is developed by SodaInMind.

Hajj App
Pilgrims who are performing Hajj are often without data connection. They rely alot on the wifi provided by their hotels. Our aim was to load preinstalled maps that we have placed in the assets folder.

I started by researching the following mapping engines

We then realised that there are 2 methods to get maps downloaded into our users devices

Download Option 1: Users would download the maps during the first launch.

Download Option 2: Place the downloaded maps in assets and load the downloaded maps (so there is no need to download maps on the first launch).

Eventually, our research led us primarily to skobbler for the following reasons:

  1. According to our requirement, I would have to adopt the Download Option 2 (as mentioned above). This is because if the map is downloaded but not run in a wifi zone, the map would not be visible. Hence, it would make sense to include the map files in the initial install package.

  2. As we were initially using Google Maps before we decided to go offline, Skobbler maps seemed to have similar integration as Google Maps. This meant that I would not have to do too much work in order to integrate offline maps while replacing the google maps.

  3. Skobbler maps supports custom routing which we needed. This was really important for our app to provide users accurate routes.

  4. Skobbler supports both geocoding and reverse geocoding.

  5. Skobbler also supports distance measuring capabilities between 2 points.

One of the good features that I like the most in Skobbler is REALREACH. This is a tool that is used to highlight a specific area on the map.
I look forward to implementing this in the latest version of the Haj Android app.

To find out more, please read the guidelines for implementing Skobbler in your android app.

If you have any suggestions for any offline maps, please do feel free to share it with me as I am continuously looking out for new things to try out.