Tech test drive: City Maps 2Go
There are times when getting lost in a city is the best way to learn it, but more often than not, it is nice to have a sense of where you’re going and the best way to get there.
Enter City Maps 2Go, an app for iPhone and iPad users that provides more than 7,000 downloadable maps for offline use.
The road test: We downloaded the $1.99 app, selected maps in Boston and London, disconnected from the Internet connection and tested for readability and accuracy. Then, we tried out the search function to assess the app’s long list of local offerings.
The highlights: The app offers unlimited map downloads from a large library, but you will need to download the maps in advance to avoid roaming charges when abroad. The maps are comprehensive, accurate and searchable, yielding an extensive list of nearby accommodations, restaurants, grocery stores, banks, public transportation stops and entertainment. Even offline, you can search and pinpoint a destination, a handy option for finding lunch on the go or locating the closest ATM. The bookmark tool is also convenient, allowing users to save reoccurring places of interest, like a hotel.
The speedbumps: Written directions are not available between locations. Instead, users must rely on the maps alone to navigate. If your trip involves a lot of driving, a satellite GPS might be preferred. Additionally, the app is not free and when a connection is available it shares a lot of the same functionality as the Google Maps app that comes preloaded on the iPad and iPhone. It may not be worth the cost if you are not leaving your network. Also, if you zoom too far in or too far out, the street names are hard to read.
The bottom line: Overall, City Maps 2Go is a very convenient tool for facilitating your explorations in unfamiliar territory and is much preferred to bringing paper maps along. It best for international travel, when roaming fees apply or Internet access is unavailable. For navigating your own city, we would stick to Google Maps.