Best Offline Navigation App for Australia

Why ExplorOz Traveller is the best offline navigation app for Australia in 2021. It makes sense to use an Australian-made navigation program like ExplorOz Traveller that allows use of the best maps you can get. This article looks at what you need to consider when choosing which GPS Navigation app and offline maps to use in Australia. To read the full article, just tap on the the subheadings below to open each section.

Using App Stores

ExplorOz Traveller is available on three platforms; Android, iOS and Windows.

We could have sold it directly through our ExplorOz store but chose distribution via the platform app stores because:-
  • It's more secure for you
  • It's more secure for us
  • It's the only option for iOS
  • It reduces our back office admin, which frees up more time for product development and customer service
Since 2008, most organisations have opted to use the app store distribution platforms for reasons like ours. However, programs have to be custom-made and some older programs originally made for Windows CE etc remain unavailable on the app stores (such as OziExplorer, TrackRanger).

Apps need to be uniquely made for each operating system and store and generally are not available in all 3 stores (ExplorOz Traveller is the exception, being the only Australian navigation app we know of that is available on all three platforms).

You may already know that it is quite common for general apps and games (or certain app features) to require internet. However, in Australia, if you go on a camping holiday or 4WD expedition you are likely to encounter small to large mobile black spots as you travel, so you want an App that is designed for offline operation and one that seamlessly handles switching from online to offline maps without requiring you to pre-plan what areas you need to download offline before you go. Again, ExplorOz Traveller is the exception, being the only navigation app we know of that automatically switches between on-line maps when they are available to off-line when they are not.

There are certainly many different Navigation Apps to choose from, but not all are created equal. Please tap the section headings below to read the rest of this article.

Offline Mapping

The primary function of an offline navigation app is to display maps when you have no internet connection and to show where you are on those maps. Although the internet is the most common medium for obtaining location data, your device can switch to use the GPS system to obtain accurate position data using the satellite network when there is no internet.

In summary, you need the following 3 things for offline navigation:
  • your device needs a GPS receiver (inbuilt or external)
  • the device needs a navigation app installed that is designed to use the GPS when Wifi/mobile data is not available
  • PLUS the app needs to provide downloadable maps that you can rely on
The ExplorOz Traveller app offers those 3 things (and more). Our app is designed to use both inbuilt GPS receivers as well as external GPS receivers so that you have true offline location services whether you use a Wifi only device or use it areas without mobile data service. The supported offline mapset is EOTopo 2021, which is exclusive to the ExplorOz Traveller app. Whilst only the "LoRes" component of the offline mapset is supplied in the initial purchase cost, this gives whole of Australia coverage to zoom level 8. An additional purchase of $49.99 as one-off payment provides you with a licence to download additional HiRes and XHiRes map packs which means you get the full EOTopo 2021 mapset so that the offline maps are the same as the online map with full zoom to level 18. Customers only need to purchase 1 EOTopo map licence for a licence to download the mapset onto multiple devices, even on different operating systems/platforms.

EOTopo is a comprehensive topographic map in itself, but in addition, Traveller can add layers of other information useful to explorers, such as POIs (Places), Treks, Personal Track Logs and, of course, a snail trail as you go – all when offline. In addition, when online Traveller can display a satellite image instead of a map and also a highly detailed Streets and Paths map showing detail down to building level and in both cases, continue to display the overlays. Street and Paths is particularly useful for finding your way around unfamiliar towns and cities.

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Hotspotting does not share GPS - it only shares online location data gathered via fixed Wifi nodes and cell towers and is not available when offline

How can I get an app to work on all my devices?

As most people now use smartphones and tablets and there’s a growing trend towards navigation headunits in vehicles this is an important consideration to consider upfront – what devices do you want the app to work on?
  • Apps for Android devices come from the Google Playstore. This includes Android phones, tablets and compatible headunits.
  • Apps for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone) come from the Apple App Store. Apple does not make any headunits and most Apple navigation apps don’t run on MacOS, only iOS.
  • Apps for Windows devices come from the Microsoft Store but only for Windows 10 PCs and tablets. Some headunits (even the very new ones) utilise the old Windows CE operating system which does not provide access to download apps from the Microsoft app store.
  • CarPlay/Android Auto – this is a hands-free driving interface built into some of the latest infotainment headunits, however beware!! This system does not simply “mirror” any app to your head unit. You can only use apps that were built specifically for the system. In the navigation category, you will not find any apps other than WAZE and Google maps (both owned by Google).
App developers must create specific versions of the app to meet the differences of each operating system and satisfy the conditions of sale offered by each app store. Developing an App to work the same way across the 3 main app stores (Playstore, App Store, Microsoft) is so complex that many developers simply do not offer the app for all devices. ExplorOz Traveller is the only navigation app to our knowledge that is available from all 3 stores that offers offline maps of Australia - and those maps are fast becoming the industry standard with reviewers giving the app a rating average of 4.3 stars (out of 5).

It makes sense to use an Australian-made navigation program like ExplorOz Traveller that allows use of the best maps you can get. Most apps you see listed in the Navigation category of the app stores are not Australian made and don’t have access to the best maps of Australia. Check the fine print!

Why ExplorOz Traveller is the best navigation app for Australia

The following data is sourced from a 2021 survey of over 7,000 Australian navigation app users. 91% of respondents have used other brands of GPS Navigation as well as ExplorOz Traveller and 93% of these respondents have used ExplorOz Traveller for a trip away with at least 1 overnight stop.

Ease of Use/Reliability

  • 76% rated ExplorOz Traveller as likeable due to its “Ease of Use/Reliability”.
  • 61% rated ExplorOz Traveller as either “Easy to Use” or “Very Easy to Use” with 33% rating it “Neither easy nor difficult”.
  • 57% rated themselves as an “Average Technology User”.
  • When put into context, also consider that 50% of survey respondents were aged 65+.

Best Maps

The ExplorOz Traveller app is the ONLY app that provides both online and offline access to the best whole of Australia mapset – EOTopo 2021. This mapset has several features that make it a standout product:-

OFFLINE MAP COVERAGE

EOTopo is a detailed “topographic” mapset which means all known physical “on the ground” features are shown – there is no sanitisation of roads, tracks, or features as has been done in other map products. The download files are provided for whole of Australia coverage offline.

OFFLINE MAP COST

AU$49.99 the purchase price includes a licence to you (managed via your ExplorOz account login) to download the EOTopo mapset multiple times. This gives you flexibility to control your data storage or to setup new devices. No subscription or additional fees. The 1 licence per person covers installs onto any platform (no separate versions for Apple, Windows, Android).

ONLINE MAP COVERAGE

When online, the ExplorOz Traveller app provides access to 3 different sources of whole of Australia mapping. You simply tap the source name and the map layer automatically changes. Any other map layers that you've selected will remain in view, such as Treks, Places, and Track Logs. The online map options are:- Satellite, Streets & Paths (by OSM), and EOTopo 2021 for topographic map detail.

DETAIL

EOTopo data is built using multiple map scales to show both street level and outback detail. If you have purchased the EOTopo 2021 map licence and have downloaded all 3 offline map packs (LoRes, HiRes, and XHiRes) you will have the same map detail offline as you do when online. The map source both online and offline is vector featuring map data built to 1:2,000 scale (ie. 2K).

ACCURACY

Regular Australia-wide data conflation updates in the EOTopo dataset have resulted in regular new editions being published (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2021). Each new edition of the map includes improvements to resolution, symbology, styling, file formats, and download delivery protocols. The EOTopo 2021 map data is the first time the data has been built in the Vector format and has provided us with the ability to output and delivery the most detailed high resolution offline mapset possible. For customers, this means you get a far more detailed map with the 2021 edition than ever before for offline use for the whole of Australia. EOTopo is a collaboration of new and updated data curated exclusively by ExplorOz together with the latest OSM street level data for urban areas, plus data from the last official government mapping survey managed by GeoScience Australia.

LOCAL

The company that manages the EOTopo data is a Perth based, small Australian business that also owns/manages the ExplorOz website www.exploroz.com

REVIEWS

If you take time to read the reviews for a few different navigation apps you'll quickly see that there are some very poorly rated apps and some well rated apps. In fact, it's the Australian-made ExplorOz Traveller app that is gaining the widest appeal and has consistently scored a rating average of 4.2 - 4.3 out of 5 stars for the last 5 years with each free update building upon the last.

Independent YouTuber AllOffRoad 4x4 Adventures TV rated it the "Best 4WD Navigation App in Oz". Check it out here.


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Ready to see ExplorOz Traveller in the app store? Go here: ExplorOz Traveller

How Does Navigation Work Offline?

If you want an offline navigation app to work on your phone, tablet or pc you have to ensure there is a GPS receiver installed (built in, or externally connected via USB or Bluetooth) - plus you need to download compatible maps for that app so your device can display maps when offline.

If you have a data SIM in your device the ExplorOz Traveller app will give you the best of both worlds. This app can automatically detect when you have lost service and will switch from online to offline operation - all you do is leave your mobile data selection ON and it will manage the switch seamlessly. You can adjust zoom when on or offline to suit your needs. If you have a Wifi only device, you cannot pick up mobile data service to use the online maps sources when you are travelling however the app is designed to offer full offline operation with the offline maps and downloaded Places, Treks, and Track Log data that you have setup before you go.

Offline features of the ExplorOz Traveller app include: use of EOTopo map for the whole of Australia; active snail trail tracking on the mapscreen as you travel; use of Search function to locate Places, Treks & Track Logs; use of the Drop Pin to create new Places; ability to add photos to Places, Status Posts and Comments using the camera or gallery in your device (upload remains pending until device is reconnected to the internet); use of ExplorOz Treks or Personal Treks that you have previously created in-app using GoTo (includes turn by turn guidance). There are 2 features that are unavailable when offline - the app cannot create/build turn by turn guidance when offline; and the app cannot search the online Address lookup system.

Offline, the ExplorOz Traveller app will continue to ensure that your device is collecting, displaying and storing position data via the GPS. If you have enabled the Tracker, your tracking will continue to be collected (will sync when the device reconnects). If you don't have the Tracker enabled during travel (either because you forgot, or don't have a Membership) you can manually extract & sync the data using the Create Track Log option when you have internet.

Data Backup & Syncing

The ExplorOz Traveller app offers all app users FREE data syncing for backup and storage of all your personal data used or created in the app. No subscriptions for cloud services. This means you can create new POIs (Places) and new route plans (Treks) and they will autosync to your online account for backup and storage. Same with your saved driven tracks (Track Logs). You can even download this data from your online account to install onto a second (or even third) device – fully compatible across multiple platforms (Android, Apple, Windows).

Licence & Updates

Licence

When you purchase ExplorOz Traveller you are licensed to download the App to all your other devices on the same operating system (multiple device downloads). Apple & Playstore also offer a Family Sharing facility to enable you to share a licence. Whilst the App has been built for all 3 main app stores, this doesn't mean you can buy 1 licence for cross-platform access (ie. your Android licence is not transferrable to your Apple device for example).

App Updates

ExplorOz Traveller is the most frequently updated navigation app on the market so you can feel confident that you’ll never get stuck with an un-working app. App updates are free and occur whenever the developer has new features to release or identifies small bugs or tweaks that will improve performance. App updates are managed via your app store account. Use the Auto App Update feature to ensure you always get the latest updates. ExplorOz uses inhouse app development and doesn’t employ third-party developers to build the app for them which enables rapid response to feedback, suggestions, and bug reports.

Free Private Tracking

The ExplorOz Traveller app provides free track logging. It displays tracking data on your map screen (snail trail) when the app is running and stores the position data in the device automatically.

This data never leaves the device unless you extract it by using the Create Track Log feature. This will prompt you to select a start & end date and provided you had the app open during those dates, the app will extract all the logged position data in chronological order and sync this to your online account where the ExplorOz webserver automatically builds a route line showing your path of travel and stores this in your online account as a Track Log. The Track Log will also be automatically downloaded to your device within the app so it is available offline should you wish to view it on the map, say to retrace your journey. Track Log edit tools allow you to name the file, add a description, add photos and assign a share status - Open, Shareable, or Locked. More info on use of Track Logs is available in the User Manual.

Auto Synced Tracking (Members Only)

If you are a "Member" (additional fee of just $29.95 for 12-month account) you will have access to a Member's only feature in the the app called the Tracker. Using this feature activates auto syncing of the tracking to commence. Auto syncing means that the tracking will be automatically transmitted from your device over an internet connection (when available) to your online account. Members have various options for what to do with the tracking data. It can simply be stored in your account online and unseen for backup and personal interest, however generally, most people use it to enable family/friends to view where they are when away travelling.

Synced tracking appears in your online account on the ExplorOz website as an "Active Tracking Map". Members can select if anyone can view this or not. From the app, or from the website the tracked Member can also Clear this map to reset for a new trip, or Save to keep a file in the Track Log format.

Auto syncing only occurs when the device is online. When you are offline, the app will continue to collect and store the tracking data as usual until it is able to sync.

Another useful feature is that it will auto save Track Logs if you've returned to a Geofence area and then head out again. This smart feature ensures you don't overlay new trip data with old trip data.

More info about using Track Logs is available in the User Manual.

Free POIs, Treks & Updates

All ExplorOz Traveller app users can download the latest updates from the ExplorOz databases using the Data Manager tool in the app (when online). Updates can be retrieved 24/7. Places database contains approx. 100,000 ExplorOz curated POIs – all known campsites, facilities, towns, parks, and relevant points of interest PLUS any Personal Places you've added to your account. Treks database contains nearly 200 pre-routed journeys curated by ExplorOz with driving directions ready to guide you turn by turn whether you are online or offline PLUS any Personal Treks you've added to your account.

Import GPX

If you have POIs or GPX Tracks, these can be imported to your online ExplorOz account (via the website). You can then download the files into the Traveller app on any device via the Data Manager.

POIs need to be uploaded to the website in the Places section - select Import GPX.
Track files need to be uploaded as GPX files in the Track Logs section.

Therefore, in the Data Manager you will update your Places & Track Logs databases which will download and overwrite the databases in the app on your device with the all-new content.

This imported GPX data will therefore appear in the app as your Personal Places and Personal Track Logs.

Uniquely Australian

ExplorOz Traveller is the only navigation app where you find the business owner, is also the app developer who also manages production of the offline mapset as well as the customer/technical support. This is a passionate and hard working privately owned small Australian business, but they've been doing this a long time - 20 years in fact. This skillset in the business behind the product ensures a unique synergy in the total navigation solution which is uniquely Australian in every way.

TIP

Ready to see ExplorOz Traveller in the app store? Go here: ExplorOz Traveller

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Created: February 2021
Revised: April 2021
Latest Feedback: February 2021

Tags

Best Offline Maps, Best Navigation App, Offline, Ios Navigation App, Android Navigation App, Windows Navigation App, Exploroz Maps, Exploroz App, Exploroz Traveller

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