OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

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thenorthwind
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OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

Sorry, I know there are already several threads on this topic, but I know you all love maps.

Let's get the lament for the lost Viewranger/moan about Outdooractive out of the way first. Skip this bit if you like.
I've been reasonably happy using Outdooractive for the last few months. Not as happy as with Viewranger, but happier than with any other alternative I've found. But whilst it has its advantages, I think the time as come to ditch it for navigation in the field. The more I've used it, the more it seems to be laggy, battery-intensive, and unreliable, and these are top of the no-no list for an app used for live navigation. It's at least partly my aging device - I use it on a Samsung Galaxy S7 Active (ruggedised version) which is fairly old now, but only has OA (OK, and Trailforks) installed on it.
The app has always felt a bit slower and more bloated than VR, but on a 400km ride at the weekend, it started taking minutes rather than seconds to catch up with my current location when I turned the screen on, and eventually crashed altogether after about 200km/10 hours, and needed a phone reboot to get it running again. I don't think it was the length of the ride/amount of data, as I've recorded this length of ride before.
It also burnt through 80% of my battery in 6 hours or so - battery aging is definitely a factor, but I'm sure it was doing some unnecessary processing that was draining it.

I also have a few other frustrations with OA... it doesn't seem to store downloaded map areas for any length of time, and there are some annoying things you can't do (importing a GPX, setting a route/track to be visible on the main map) without an internet connection, even though no data needs to be downloaded. Support have been responsive, but not really willing to engage... "Maps are cached until you log out" So I'm imagining them disappearing then? "Yes, that's how it works" Well it compromises the usefulness of the app, is that not interesting to you?

TL;DR: I've thrown my toys out of the pram with Outdooractive (again).

The online route planning and route/track organisation is quite good in OA, so I might still use it for that (particularly since I have lifetime OS map access, and currently Harvey's as well, which is great). So taking that out of the equation, I'm on the hunt again for a solidly dependable, simple app to use. I need to be able to load GPX routes in and display them, and record a GPX track. I usually use OS maps, and am happy to pay for that, but finding I often use simpler OSM for road riding these days, so ability to use both would be good.

I found Outdoor Map Navigator (OMN) which I have come across before, and have had a bit of a play with it (https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... l=en&gl=US). Only does OS maps and seems simple but fairly well thought out. Haven't tried actually navigating with it yet. There's a 7-day free trial which I'll activate when I'm going to actually use it (though there's a demo area covering most of the Lakes, which might be useful to me next week). Full 50k and 25k data is £28/year.

I'm mainly just blethering to myself here, but would be interested to hear if anyone has anymore experience with OMN. I must have at least looked at most of the alternatives (OS Maps, Komoot, Backcountry Navigator, OSMAnd...) but if anyone highly recommends another, I'm all ears.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by boxelder »

Does the OS app not do all that you've mentioned? I plan longer rides in bikehike, as it 'snaps' to roads for long sections, and BWs in Nat Parks.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by faustus »

OMN looks v interesting, mainly because it is simple! It even offers route printing of maps which is nice. I use outdooractive, but only really to view OS maps, very rarely follow routes or do any planning on it, and all the other features have no interest to me. OMN looks good because it doesn't have a 'social' element of sharing routes or having a user created database of routes - useful for some but not for me.

Anyway, outdooractive is just one of many things (like my phone) where it has too many features and too much complexity for me to care about, likewise GPS units on a bike - just want a few simple things done well without a million other options/complications. Antisocial luddite grump over :lol:
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ootini
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by ootini »

I use GPX viewer Pro. Think the Pro bit cost a fiver or so,extra maps can be imported at separate cost too I believe.

Things it does:
Important GPX files from local storage.
Offline / downloadable maps for free. Upgrade / licensed maps can also be added.
Record GPX tracks
Shows elevaton
Shows way points etc

Things it doesn't do:
Planning and routing. I do this myself on Bikehike or other gpx course creator software, or I nick them off other people / places.
Turn by turn navigation. You can use way points, but I just prefer seeing a dot, on a line, on a map.
Audio. I know some tools like Komoot do audio prompts, but I just can't be arsed with that.

It's cheap, basic, reliable
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by JackT »

One nice thing about Viewranger that I've yet to find elsewhere is that I could add multiple tracks and POIs to the map and they'd all just stay there on the map indefinitely. I found this 'mark up' feature really handy for dropping POIs at water sources, good pubs, possible future bivvy spots, and being able to reference them years later. Also for viewing multiple route options, rather than viewing a single track at a time, which is how most of the other apps seem to work.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

boxelder wrote: Tue Jul 26, 2022 9:47 am Does the OS app not do all that you've mentioned? I plan longer rides in bikehike, as it 'snaps' to roads for long sections, and BWs in Nat Parks.
Mostly, from what I remember Andy - I bought a licence at the beginning of the year. But the killer for me was how unstable it was. After a few weeks, it crashed and wouldn't start without crashing no matter how many times I restarted the phone. Got my money back.
faustus wrote: Tue Jul 26, 2022 10:22 am OMN looks good because it doesn't have a 'social' element of sharing routes or having a user created database of routes
Agreed, I never used the social features of VR or OA, but having my own library of routes and tracks was very useful. When out somewhere I'd been before, I was able to look back at previous tracks to remember exactly where I'd been, and how long a particular route had taken. Good for reminding yourself where the off-piste trails are on Forestry land for one thing.
ootini wrote: Tue Jul 26, 2022 10:49 am I use GPX viewer Pro. Think the Pro bit cost a fiver or so,extra maps can be imported at separate cost too I believe.
Had a quick look at this but OS maps don't seem to be an option (even paid) or am I missing them?

Otherwise it sounds good and your list of things it does/doesn't do aligns pretty closely with my wishlist.
The ability to plot a route on the app on the go is quite useful though - wouldn't choose it over bikehike, etc. but when you decide on a shortcut, detour, or whatever part way through a ride, it's nice to be able to stick a few points in and get a rough idea of the distance. VR was great for this.
JackT wrote: Wed Jul 27, 2022 12:01 pm One nice thing about Viewranger that I've yet to find elsewhere is that I could add multiple tracks and POIs to the map and they'd all just stay there on the map indefinitely. I found this 'mark up' feature really handy for dropping POIs at water sources, good pubs, possible future bivvy spots, and being able to reference them years later. Also for viewing multiple route options, rather than viewing a single track at a time, which is how most of the other apps seem to work.
Totally agree. OA does it, but it's more fiddly than VR - you have to add the route/track to "My Map" (which, bizarrely, requires an active internet connection, even though all the data is on your device) and make sure My Map is visible in the Map view. OMN does this too though.

I've used OMN for a ride in Swaledale and a couple of days Wainwright bagging in the Lakes this week. I'll share some more detailed thoughts on it when I get time. I've just cancelled my subscription before the free trial ran out, but I might subscribe again if I don't find anything better.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

Some thoughts after a few tries with OMN, in case anyone is interested. The developer actually contacted me asking for feedback after I cancelled the subscription at the end of the free trial, which I take as a good sign, and will be sending them this too.

Stuff I liked about OMN:
- Simple, no unnecessary "features", quick
- Battery use was a lot better than my recent OA experience
- Downloading maps for offline use is pretty simple - OS 50k is downloaded by region, e.g. "Northern England" is a whole area. OS 25k is downloaded by national grid letters (100km x 100km?), e.g. NY covers pretty much the whole of the Lakes, northern Cumbria and bits of D&G. This suits me, I'd rather download a big area and have it sitting there than piecing together little bits every time you go somewhere different. You have to look up the letter code if you don't know it, but you're not going to need to do it very often.
- You can draw basic routes on the go, which I find handy for assesing shortcuts or route variations.

Some gripes:
- By default, routes/tracks are drawn with a very thin line that's almost invisible on the map - not very useful. You can define your own custom style (colour/width/transparency) with a bit of experimentation. I think now I've faffed with that, I won't need to do it again, but if I did, it would quickly get annoying.
- There's no OSM/OCM or similar - it's OS or nothing.
- I did manage to crash it once or twice, but it restarted quickly and when it happened while recording a track, it kept recording seamlessly.
- The track manager is a bit clunky, but it works. Tracks (recorded activities) and routes (plotted on a map) are all in together, though you can create folders. You only get the first couple of words of the name that fit on the screen unless you go into "info" in the menu, which is a bit annoying.
- Tracks/routes synchronise with your account, but there's no web interface for plotting routes, or even seeing what's there. There are Mac OS and Windows apps, which isn't much use to to me as I only have a Linux PC.
- Distance, ascent, and descent are shown for a currently recording track when you tap it (took me a little while to work that one out), but not time, strangely.

I'm trying a couple of other apps that I've seen recommended, namely Maverick, OutDoors GPS, and Topo GPS.

I was at a local forest on Monday and tried OutDoors out for a while. It's basic, but probably a bit too basic. You can buy a subscription for OS maps, but it does OSM/OCM/Google for free so I tried that out. It apparently recorded me doing 19 miles in two hours of a trail centre bimbling - the real distance was probably more like 5 miles. Perhaps the tracking interval is too short, but I can't see an option to change it, and perhaps under tree cover isn't the best place to test it, but all the other apps seem to manage. Will probably give up on that one.

I switched to Topo GPS after lunch and it was more promising. It seems to have more features, including possibly some I don't need, but the interface is quite intuitive. Features I don't use don't bother me as long as the interface isn't constantly throwing them in my face... "share this!"... "create a video of your route!" No thanks. An OS subscription is £25 a year, but you can also buy tiles, so I bought a small area for 79p just to try it. Annoyingly, you have to pay for OSM, though it's a one-off £3.29 (for the whole world) so I suppose you're really just paying for the app, which is fair enough. There's loads of other countries available too, and mostly £3.29 one-offs for the whole country. Map downloading seems straighforward. Recording... worked. There's a nice simple heads-up display with speed, distance, etc. So far so good.

Haven't really tried Maverick yet, but first impressions are the interface is not intuitive.

I'm starting to lose track of which app is which and what I've recorded where too, and a little bit of the will to live :geek:
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by fatbikephil »

This is great Dave, you are doing all the hard work for us!
I've been using the OS app a bit more in the last couple of months - once for nav on a walk and to look at maps and work out where I'm going when I've been out and about on the bike and the Dakota screen is too small to route plan. It opens to a blank grey screen more often than not but I worked out that you have to fire a route up (any route) and that seems to give it a kick to actually display a map. Downloading maps is a PIA but it will do it via a 4g connection whilst cowering under a tarp with not much signal.

The OMN way of downloading a whole are would be much handier.

Keep up the good work :grin:
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

Cheers Phil, glad it's useful to someone else. It's helping me get my thoughts in order a bit anyway, though my head's getting a bit of a mess with all the different apps now. Viewranger was such a useful tool for all my outdoor activities, and it's worth a bit (or a lot) of trial and error to find a system that works as, or almost as, well. Something to ponder while I'm working my way through the Wainwrights anyway.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by faustus »

Stirling job you're doing with the testing there! Sounds as though OMN might be more useable with a compatible PC, good to know tracks and routes are stored in your account. Sounds like it's got scope for more improvements/needs more user experience updates to fine tune the experience.

I guess the problem with any app, but perhaps more so with smaller ones (and the reason for this thread in the first place), is the unknown longevity of the product, whether a small company might just go bust one day or be bought out by a big fish - I guess that's just an inherent risk with apps.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

faustus wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:05 am Stirling job you're doing with the testing there! Sounds as though OMN might be more useable with a compatible PC
Thanks. Yeah, the PC app would make the whole system more friendly for me (would still prefer a web interface rather than being tied to a PC with the program installed)... I might try it out on my old Windows laptop. I realise a Linux port is beyond the resources of a small developer and I'm not really complaining that there isn't one. But it does highlight one reason a web interface is a better option.
faustus wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:05 am I guess the problem with any app, but perhaps more so with smaller ones (and the reason for this thread in the first place), is the unknown longevity of the product, whether a small company might just go bust one day or be bought out by a big fish - I guess that's just an inherent risk with apps.
I remember thinking occasionally how rubbish it would be if Viewranger went bust/changed significantly/increased prices unaffordably or anything like that, but I never thought it would happen. I've always periodically downloaded all my tracks as GPXs and backed them up though. Hooray for open XML standards :ugeek:

Speaking of my "library" of tracks and routes, I was assuming if I shifted away from OA for navigation, it would still be useful for managing my library and planning routes - I still think the route planner is one of the best I've used, to give them their due, even if you have to transfer it to another app to use.
But it turns out, unlike VR, you can't import and GPX of a track as a track - you can import it and it will create a route from it, but that's not the same thing. It explicitly says in the OA documentation that this isn't possible. That's a real pain for me.

Anyway, I was in the Lakes for a couple of days this week, so I gave Topo GPS a bit of a test. I couldn't fault it, and everything worked well, but to be honest it wasn't the most thorough test as the temptation to switch back to OA was too great: I'm ticking off the Wainwrights, and they're highlighted on Harvey's maps, unlike OS, so it's much easier to make sure you're not missing any. The availability of Harvey's maps is a string to OA's bow in my book, and unique AFAIK. They're great maps, better than OS in a lot of ways, although not available everywhere.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by fatbikephil »

thenorthwind wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 8:18 pm But it turns out, unlike VR, you can't import and GPX of a track as a track - you can import it and it will create a route from it, but that's not the same thing. It explicitly says in the OA documentation that this isn't possible. That's a real pain for me.
Yes I twigged this after creating a route on OA, exporting a GPX and it failing to work on my dakota. I had to load it onto bike hike and then save it again.....
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

Is that because Garmins only accept tracks though? Never used one, but think I've read that before, and if so, I think that's a shortcoming of Garmin rather than OA to be fair. The GPX <route> format exists to contain routes to be followed.

Just to confuse things, you can export a track that you've recorded in OA to a GPX track, but that doesn't really help in that situation.

I forgot to mention that the developer of OMN told me that they're releasing v4 later this year, which will feature
a new statistics engine and a full multi editing engine
whatever that means. Presumably they're to do with planning routes - I can't see where else statistics comes into it. Certainly worth keeping an eye on (though I'd really rather just find one platform that works and stick to it).
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by whitestone »

thenorthwind wrote: Sun Aug 07, 2022 8:09 am Is that because Garmins only accept tracks though? Never used one, but think I've read that before, and if so, I think that's a shortcoming of Garmin rather than OA to be fair. The GPX <route> format exists to contain routes to be followed.

Just to confuse things, you can export a track that you've recorded in OA to a GPX track, but that doesn't really help in that situation.
My Oregon certainly imports both routes and tracks. Even though they are both stored in the same folder (garmin/GPX) on the device you access them via different routes (sic) through the menu system. This has confused me on occasion as I've loaded a GPX file described as a "track" and even though it's on the device I can't see it in Track Manager. I finally twig that it's actually a "route" which for bikepacking are a pain so it's into bikehike to convert it to a track and reload it.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

Tried the OMN Windows app. It's garbage. OK for renaming/importing/exporting GPXs, but that's about it. Exploring a route/track on the map is an exercise in frustration because if you click too close to it when panning/zooming you add trackpoints. And I realised why the lines are so thin on the Android app by default: because if you make them thick enough to see, they look like this in the Windows app:

Image

The route planner is pretty painful too, and there's no path-following so it's purely manual. So considerably less useful than, e.g. BikeHike.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by fatbikephil »

Quite artistic (possibly...) but not a lot of use :grin:
Bike Hike remains my favourite route planning tool, if only you could use it to download onto a phone.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by Dave Barter »

I've been tinkering away at a route planning package and have recently been looking at apps. I'd be interested to know the top ten killer features required of which OS maps seems to be high (makes the "free" requirement tricky). The things I've been working on are:-

- showing multiple routes on the map and allowing you to trace over/use bits of previous routes
- easy split and join of routes
- base layers of good POIs (cafes, bivy/bevy spots, spars etc...)
- auto-routing and the ability to disable
- OS/OSM cycle/OSM normal base layers

It would be entirely open-sourced. I wrote most of ^ in Qt and then abandoned it as the map controls were too restrictive. Currently redoing it all in javascript but it's a winter project and needs lots of bad weather to get me back working on it.
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by fatbikephil »

Bash on Dave, feel free to use us as testers :-bd
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by thenorthwind »

Dave Barter wrote: Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:41 pm I've been tinkering away at a route planning package and have recently been looking at apps. I'd be interested to know the top ten killer features required of which OS maps seems to be high (makes the "free" requirement tricky). The things I've been working on are:-

- showing multiple routes on the map and allowing you to trace over/use bits of previous routes
- easy split and join of routes
- base layers of good POIs (cafes, bivy/bevy spots, spars etc...)
- auto-routing and the ability to disable
- OS/OSM cycle/OSM normal base layers

It would be entirely open-sourced. I wrote most of ^ in Qt and then abandoned it as the map controls were too restrictive. Currently redoing it all in javascript but it's a winter project and needs lots of bad weather to get me back working on it.
I remember you mentioning a while ago you were working on something Dave. Are you intending it only to be for planning - not navigating/recording tracks?
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Re: OMN (Yet Another Post-Viewranger Navigation app thread)

Post by Dave Barter »

The app is for nav and recording
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