Free and paid options www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk
When you head out on a shoot, never underestimate the importance of having a map. Not only does it help you to find locations and plot routes, it’s also invaluable when trekking in areas where adverse weather conditions could seriously impede your ability to navigate. In short, if you’re in the hills or mountains, having some kind of map and compass can mean the difference between life and death.
OS Maps is a navigation app that offers three types of subscription to help you plan, edit, record and view routes on your smartphone. The basic free account allows you to import GPX files (pre-plotted GPS routes), and provides access to Standard, Explorer and Satellite maps while online. This last point is important – you must have a data connection for mapping to work. Mobile signals can, of course, be sporadic at best in remote locations, so the free subscription is better for planning and shouldn’t be relied upon for navigation.
The second type of subscription is a code that comes with paper maps and allows you to download maps to your device for offline use. You get all the aforementioned functionality, too. The third is the Premium option, which ranges from a seven- day free trial to £3.99 for one month, up to £25.99 for a 12-month period. This option provides access to 1:25k and 1:50k map scales of Britain online with the ability to save areas for offline use, alongside the functionality of the free account and additional browser functionality.
To get the best from the app while on location you have to be using an offline version of maps, which means a download code from a paper map or premium subscription is essential. The free subscription is only useful where there’s a strong phone signal, and for planning shoots. Downloading maps couldn’t be simpler, although the premium subscription can be glitchy. Overall, the app is easy and intuitive, and the ability to use GPS to plot your position with an offline map is extremely useful. Although, when doing this it’s essential to carry a battery pack because it will drain your phone battery.