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OsmAnd

I love Free Software: How to edit OpenStreetMap in Osmand

ilovefs-osmandI am a traveller, a person who spents his money and spare time to leave home and see the world. That is why I am in need of a good Free Software navigation system. For IloveFS Day 2016 I like to thank all Free Software contributors and highlight my personal favorite OpenStreetMap-based navigation app: Osmand

For me, Osmand is the perfect match between simplicity and complexity. You can choose to use it for a simple map illustrator or as an offline navigation system including voice directions. Also, you can choose to see a simple map or show multiple layers to also see transportation systems, points of interests, hillshades, wikipedia entries and much more. Or you can enable a variety of plugins to customize your application or to enable advanced features. One of them is to edit and contribute to the source of OpenStreetMap.

Since this makes contributes anytime spontaneously to OpenStreetMap very easy, on #IloveFS, I like to thank the people behind Osmand by sharing a how-to add locations to OpenStreetMap with Android (or an Android custom-ROM). It is fun, easy and free.
This way I also hope to inspire other people to take their mobile once in a while and to map the world together.

Please note: this is an updated How to for Osmand version 2.2+. Please read my former Howto, if you run Osmand 2.0 or 2.1.

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About Cartes – the OSM app inside FirefoxOS marketplace

cartes

After my first steps with Firefox OS, this time I looked out for a navigation app because proper navigation is to me among the most important services of a mobile phone. I navigated through Mozillas marketplace and so far there are Cartes, Bing Maps, traffc, Maps Online, Find Me Google, Compass +, zMaps and Easy Taxi. Unfortunately, you do not see which one are Free Software and which not. But, after reading the info-pages inside the market place, I found Cartes to be the only navigation app in the market place so far, that is Free Software. So I gave this one a try.

First, I love a lot that it comes with a very easy-to-use interface that is composed of simply one line where you can enter for example an address that you are looking for. Or two lines in case you look for a route. Basically like openstreetmap.org itself. This interface is so much easier to use than the one from my beloved Osmand, which has a much more complex and unintuitive interface. Actually, every time I look for an address in Osmand, I wish there would be something like an easy “one line interface” to find the address I am looking for …
However, I think the difference in search usability derives from one of the most important features that Osmand offers and Cartes not, at least not yet: Offline maps and navigation. Offline maps are much more powerful than online searches, they are faster and work without any dependency on your internet connection. Which is especially important when you are travelling and like to have a full navigation system without roaming charges – anywhere in the world. Also I have to admit that Osmand~ offers multiple times more features and functionality than Cartes, for example OpenStreetMap editing on your device.

But hey, Cartes is a good start and I would love to see further development to give Firefox OS users easy-to-use freedom to OpenStreetMap for their navigation instead of being tied to proprietary services. And, as I can see from updates, there is already a “First attempt at offline use, now viewed tiles are cached an can be reused offline”. Thanks, Maël Lavault, keep the good work going.
BTW: Interesting to see, that Cartes can display satellite images? Where does it take it from? Bing?

OpenStreetMap editing “to go” – adding locations to OSM with Android

Since I realized how easy it is to contribute anytime spontaneously to OpenStreetMap with your Android device, I wrote a how-to add locations to OpenStreetMap with Android (or an Android custom-ROM) in my OSM-profile. It is fun, easy and free.
This way I hope to inspire other people to take their mobile once in a while and to map the world together. This blog post is a duplicate of my profile information:

Installing Osmand~

Get F-Droid, the Free Software repository app. You can download the .apk directly from the home page and need to install it on your Android. If you encounter installation/permission problems, you most probably need to trust “unknown sources” first. Don’t panic : ) no harm involved.

F-Droid is an “alternative market place”, that only offers Free Software (as in Freedom). Others call it “Open Source”. For various reasons, Free Software is to be considered a good thing : )

01-osmand-search-in-fdroid
Inside F-Droid, search for “Osmand”


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and install “Osmand~”.
Don’t get confused by other apps : )


Get an account for OpenStreetMap

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I love Free Software: OsmAnd

Today, like every year on Valentine’s Day, the FSFE is running its “I love Free Software” campaign: a day to show and celebrate your love for Free Software. That is why I take my chance today to thank the developers of OsmAnd for all the work they are doing!

Last year in summer, I was doing a bicycle trip for some days through the northern part of Germany, especially through the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte and along the Baltic Sea. Generally, when I am on bicycle trips, I prefer to cycle aside from roads and motorways but along the paths, the hiking trails or even dirt tracks. That was exactly the time, when I fell in love with OsmAnd, a maps & navigation application for Android systems.

This is not just because it gives me the ability to use Free Software with really good maps for navigation. This is especially because you can download any maps of the world (as long as you have enough space to save them) whenever you like (While you are on Wifi, e.g.) and use it afterwards completely offline. For example, when you go to some foreign country, you can download the entire map of this country before and then enjoy a complete maps&navigation system without the need of having internet access or having to pay any roaming charges for internet access. Or, like in my case, when you cycle long distances through landscape (where you miss power plugs as well as network connectivity most of the time) you can stay in flight-mode all the time and keep on cycling with navigation for days. In addition, the maps are really good and detailed and you can see even tiny hiking trails to follow. You can also set your own favorite points on the map, without having to fear that these favorite points will be send to or tracked by any server – as you are using it offline.

Last, but not least, you can download OsmAnd from F-droid, the Free Software App Repository, so you can use all OsmAnd features on an Android based operating system without the need of any Google account.

In short: Dear OsmAnd developers, thank you very much for this useful app. Keep the good work going, I love you guys!