How to Turn Your Android Phone Into a Handheld GPS

  • Replies:6
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Dec 11, 2012 7:06:59 PM via Website

A ‘true GPS’ should have direct-to-satellite navigation, and allow maps to be:
  • edited on a desktop computer prior to uploading to a handheld.
  • saved to the handheld’s memory for viewing offline without a network connection.
While no ‘one program’ will enable your Android to function as a true GPS, two free software-plus-app combinations come close:
  • A - MOBAC (on desktop) + ORUXMAPS (on Android).
    ** OR **
  • B - GOOGLE MAPS (on desktop) + GPS ESSENTIALS (on Android).
***
OPTION A - MOBAC + ORUXMAPS

STEP ONE - DOWNLOAD MOBAC & LOAD MAPS
  1. MOBAC is a free map-making program for desktop computers which provides access to online maps. An excellent online tutorial is at: mobac.sourceforge.net/quickstart.
  2. Create a ‘NEW ATLAS’ during each session. When selecting the ‘NAME OF THE NEW ATLAS’ from a dropdown menu, select ‘OruxMaps Sqlite’.
  3. After you have selected the map you want, MOBEC will chop it into picture files called ‘tiles’. The tiles get saved to various subdirectories, each entitled ‘LAYER NAME’, and each located within the ATLASES directory in MOBAC.
  4. Waypoints - can be added to your map (see bottom-right on MOBAC); these are saved separately as a GPX file.
STEP TWO - INSTALL ORUXMAPS ON YOUR ADROID (free at Google Play)

STEP THREE - TRANSFER MAPS & WAYPOINT DATA FROM YOUR COMPUTER TO YOUR ANDROID VIA USB CABLE

Transfer Maps:
  1. Maps are saved on your desktop in a subdirectory of the MOBAC program called ‘ATLASES’. To find or specify the location of the ATLASES subdirectory, start MOBAC, go to SETTINGS (left-bottom)-->DIRECTORIES-->SELECT.
  2. Within the ATLASES subdirectory, open further subdirectories until you find a subdirectory called ‘LAYER NAME’.
  3. Copy each LAYER NAME subdirectory from your desktop, to the following subdirectory on your Android: ORUXMAPS-->MAPFILES (don’t copy and paste individual files--copy and paste the ENTIRE directory).
Transfer Waypoint Data:
  1. Find the subdirectory containing the GPX file you created using MOBAC.
  2. Copy this file from your desktop, to the following subdirectory on your Android: ORUXMAPS-->TRACKLOGS.
STEP FOUR - CONFIGURE ORUXMAPS

Load Maps:
  1. On the main screen, select MAP OFFLINE.
  2. Refresh the map list, and then select each LAYER NAME.
Load Waypoint Data:
  1. Select MAP OFFLINE (begin viewing a map).
  2. You will see 5 icons at the top. The centre icon resembles a road with an arrow. Select that icon, then select LOAD FILE. You should see your GPX file there.
*** OR ***

OPTION B - GOOGLE MAPS + GPS ESSENTIALS

STEP ONE - CREATE A GOOGLE MAP
  1. Login to your Google account, go to MAPS-->CREATE MAP. Select EDIT (this lets you to add waypoints).
  2. When complete, select KML. This will allow waypoint data to be saved to your desktop as a KML file (KML and GPX files are similar).
STEP TWO - INSTALL ‘GPS ESSENTIALS’ ON YOUR ANDROID (free from Google Play)
  1. After installing, copy the KML file from your desktop, to a directory on your Android (I’d suggest placing it into the KMLZ directory).
  2. Start GPS Essentials. From the main screen select ‘WAYPOINTS’.
  3. Press the bottom-left control button on your Android. Select IMPORT-->SD CARD-->KMLZ. Select, and then import, your KML file.
STEP THREE - CONFIGURE GPS ESSENTIALS TO WORK OFFLINE
  1. Go to SETTINGS-->MAP CACHE. Move the cache limit to maximum.
  2. Find a strong network connection. From main screen, select 'PORTABLE MAPS'. Every map you view in portable map mode automatically saves to the Android’s memory. Save maps you will need offline in as much detail as possible, and slowly zoom in on each waypoint.
  3. Disconnect from the network and view maps in portable map mode. If some maps lack detail, re-connect to a network and slowly zoom in on the map location you need.
Your Android is now a handheld GPS, with pre-loaded maps and waypoints, ready to work offline without any network connection!!!

— modified on Dec 21, 2012 5:37:55 PM

Dec 13, 2012 2:50:29 AM via Website

As long as the Android device is equipped with satellite-tracking internal hardware (called 'real GPS' or 'true GPS'), it should work fine. Good luck!

— modified on Dec 13, 2012 2:58:03 AM

Sep 17, 2014 7:44:50 PM via Website

I just tried this. I found out that by selecting Portable Maps, you no longer are looking at Google's maps. It looks to me to be OSM. This probably will be fine for most. However there are far fewer roads shown on OSM in some locations, and the difference can be glaring. In my case, when moving from Google to Portable, the road I wanted to navigate on disappeared, and there was a huge blank spot on the map.

Sep 19, 2014 5:35:18 AM via Website

T. Peterson

I just tried this. I found out that by selecting Portable Maps, you no longer are looking at Google's maps. It looks to me to be OSM. This probably will be fine for most. However there are far fewer roads shown on OSM in some locations, and the difference can be glaring. In my case, when moving from Google to Portable, the road I wanted to navigate on disappeared, and there was a huge blank spot on the map.

It is OSM. But, you can add roads, stairs, and other things by logging into OSM and use the Edit function. I used it to add a few roads, stairs, stores, English names for the Japanese kanji, and historical locations to the Nobi area of Kanagawa, Japan. I started using GPS Essentials today, and there was the map with all the updates I made about a month ago. (I also have OsmAnd which uses OSM but it does not show the changes I made. -perhaps they haven't updated yet?)

When updating OSM, there is a much more detailed map under the OSM map. The roads I added were on this map, so I just "traced" the roads. You can fill in the missing roads for those areas that are missing them and that will be added to the OSM that the rest of the world will see/use. How cool is that!

Dec 5, 2014 6:32:09 AM via Website

Hi

This is john, i like to wish someone should create social app. we are facing so many problems especially traffic problems. Recently i get traffic app from traffline. Similar to that so many social apps have to create.