About two years ago Google updated the Google Map app for Android. They cleaned up the interface and eliminated some of the slowdowns the app had. Unfortunately one of those slow downs was the “My Maps” feature.
Google’s My Maps is a VERY useful feature in Google Maps that allows you to place marker points anywhere on a map and give them a name and description. I’ve been using this for years making my own personal maps of places I want to photograph, and places I have photographed that worked out really well. Plus I’m able to add little descriptions to the marker points that basically say “stand here, face there, and pictures are best around sunset”
It’s great when planning a photo trip to a place you’ve never been before. You can scout locations and mark all the points on the map with reminders of what you’re looking at or looking for. The problem until now is that there was no way to access this with a mobile app. The best alternative was very clunky to access the maps on the mobile maps browser page; but with maps that have as many markers as I do this often led to the browser locking up or crashing. In the end what I was doing was printing out maps on pieces of paper and taking them with me on vacation.
Google quietly snuck out “My Maps” mobile last November. It’s basically all the features that were pulled out of Google maps and put into it’s own dedicated app, the result is a much more snappy program that is pretty easy to edit and add to while on the go. The drawback is it’s still dependent on a data signal, and there isn’t much you can do to cache the maps and points of interest. Worst of all the app doesn’t seem to want to let you add a point until data is working and the local map are has been downloaded. It would be great if a map area could be cached like the main maps program is capable of doing. And it should be able to drop markers for a point of interest based of GPS when data is not working or is slow. So if I’m driving down a road and see something I want to come back and photograph I can just drop a pin real quick on my current GPS location and move on without the maps having to load.
Regardless of the shortcomings it’s great having access to a digital copy of the maps you crated at your desktop while planing where to go on your trip. And when you’re in the city or around home it’s great to be able to make a list of places you know are photogenic or have unique points of interest that you like to return to.