Mud Maps is a Melbourne based company who has released a web site for geotiff (raster) maps rendered/managed/downloaded onto an iPad/iPhone with GPS tracking etc.

It is useful particularly for 4x4, hiking and other off road adventures. And areas like where I live (Panton Hill) and where I visit (French Island) which doesn't have maps covering all the trails, tracks, fire access etc.

The app is free, and you get some maps free but then you can purchase others.

Issues

But of course, I have issues with it. And I have only been using it for one day:

  • Portrait only - really horrible reading portrait, should be landscape
  • "Find Place" - does nothing. I can't seem to find anything. It takes ages to search and then returns nothing. Once I got it to work, but it started returning locations in the US.
  • Delete Map - you can delete a map, just drag right on an entry, like in other interfaces such as email. However, this was not immediately obvious and the real problem here is that the web site help says "coming soon".
  • Selecting maps to download - You have to know the name of the map you want to download. You can get help on this through the Mud Maps web site, which allows you to show only maps in the zoomed in area of the Google Maps view, then write these down then download. Lots of work really. See Map selection below
  • Lack of street/vector maps. Why not have the basic street maps. Why do I now have to switch to another application to do street maps. Access to OSM (Open Street Maps) data is free, they could easily implement that.
  • No ability to add our own maps. What about being able to upload our own GeoTIFF. I generate Geotiff for weather information, it would be good to import.

My Suggestions

The obvious

  • Landscape

Map selection

Downloading something like vicmaps is over 800 maps ! These are presented in a flat list in alphabetical order. Not very useful.

Some easy suggestions

  • Sort download maps by most detail to least at the current coordinates
    • This would allow you to see what to download and simple to implement.
  • Show maps matching this area - like the web interface. Again, the logic is already there in the web interface, so it can be called via a JSON/REST or similar request to find the list of maps. Should take be very quick to implement.
  • Allow "Favourites" in Web interface. Show these in the app.

And the idea that I think would be best:

  • Create (for lack of a better name) play lists. Ability to create a named set of maps, e.g. because you are about to do a trek up North and need a dozen maps matching the area. And then the ability to download that "set" of maps in the app.

The Killer App

iPad and iPhone were definitely the right way to go for this company. But there are new devices coming out now that could be the killer app. For example, the Notion Ink Adam has a PQ Translective screen that can be read outdoors. Imagine then a 4x4, marine, air or other mapping app that can be read in full sunlight.