GPS-Enabled Maps Now Available on Mobile Devices With PDF Maps App

PDF Maps by Avenza is a mobile app that allows the user to download GPS-enabled maps (geospatial PDF, GeoTIFF and Geo PDF) for navigation and offline use.  Using your mobile device's GPS, PDF Maps will show your location and allow you to record your GPS track.  But these are not the only functions you will find useful, the app has many more that will aid in biking navigation.

Let's explore the many features of this handy navigational tool by starting with the maps available in the Avenza Map Store.  Choose from the many free or paid maps by selecting from Categories, browse maps near your current location by selecting "Find Maps" or narrow your search by selecting vendors and/or map categories.  Import GPS-enabled maps into the app from the Internet with a URL, from your Dropbox account or from the device's SD card.  Many free GeoPDF topographical maps are available for download from the USGS and the US Forest Service.  Once a map is downloaded onto your device, it is available for use even without a data connection.  This comes in handy when in areas where cellular coverage may not be available.  Disable cellular data coverage to extend device battery life and navigate using only GPS.  Register within the app to re-install previous map purchases or to install purchases on multiple devices.

Some of the more popular maps for use in the Twin Cities for cycling include the Twin Cities Bike Map 2014 ($3.99),  Twin Cities Bike Map_2013 (Free), Minneapolis Bicycle Map (Free) and Northfield Area Bike Routes (Free).  All of these can be found on the PDF Maps Map Store.

Once maps are downloaded they will appear ready to load in the Maps tab when the app is opened.  Click on the desired map to load it (make sure GPS is enabled).

As a navigational tool, PDF Maps is awesome.  Always know where you are and find where you need to go whether it be by trail or bike-friendly roads.  Maps can be zoomed in for close-up detail or zoomed out to see where you are in relation to the rest of the map.  This is especially helpful when biking in unfamiliar areas.

PDF Maps is loaded with features that allow a user to customize their maps.  Plot placemarks, find locations by coordinates or points of interest, plot geo-tagged photos, record GPS tracks, measure distances of a desired route and open the current view in Google Maps.

Finding a place on a map is easy, using the Tools menu tap the "Find Places" option and simply enter an address or point of interest.  Places are based on search engine results.  Tap on the result to edit map feature details or discard.

Add your own placemarks by address or coordinates and edit the details to be saved on the map for later use.  Choose icons or colored pins for your placemark and even add photos.

Measure distances by plotting lines along a desired route.

Edit and save line data for following a route while out on a ride.

GPS-track your rides in real time and edit ride details when you are finished.

View your track statistics on a graph that also includes a summary of Distance, Time, Avg. Speed, Top Speed and Elevation.

PDF Maps is a wonderful, user-friendly mapping tool that will get you where you need to go and keep you from getting lost in unfamiliar territory.  You'll always know where you are and you can plot your own points of interest and photos to customize your maps.  Do you want to stop for lunch or a cup of coffee along your ride?  PDF Maps has you covered with the Find Places feature.  Install it today and start discovering new routes, trails and places.  

I've just covered some of the useful features for cycling in this post, if you would like to learn more about other PDF Maps features visit the PDF Maps Features page.  To get answers to questions about PDF maps for Android or iOS, visit the PDF Maps Frequently Asked Questions page.


PDF Maps is free and available for Android and iOS.  Avenza recommends Android 4.0 and higher on a device with at least 1 GB of RAM or Third Generation iPod Touch or better, iPhone 3GS or better, any iPad or iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular.  Devices must be installed with at least iOS 5.0 or newer.

*Note:  All screenshots are from the Android version of the app.

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