Monday, December 03, 2012

Voice Navigation on OsmAnd

For a direction idiot like me, having a navigation aid is a must in order not to get lost even in my own country.  I have evaluated quite a number of navigation app in Android and have selected OsmAnd for this purpose. It is free and its voice navigation guide is quite acceptable.

The very first thing you need to do is to get a map. Obviously, if you have data plan, it should not be a problem at all. However, I would recommend a offline map as you may end up in places without data connection. The bad side of offline maps is that you would not be able to get the latest traffic condition. If you are rushing for time, offline maps will not be suitable. If you are planning a trip that you know and the traffic condition is no a concern, this is one application that is suitable.

OsmAnd allows you to download maps for offline use. It obtains map from OpenStreeMap. Just go to Settings, Offline data (download) and download the country in which you will be travelling.

In settings, click on "Navigation". Choose the mode of travel. You may have to repeat the setting if you need to travel by more than one mode. Under "Navigation service", make sure you choose "OsmAnd (offline)". Under "Voice Guidance", choose "en-tts". If you do not see a tts available, then click "install more" and follow the instruction to download tts.

Go back to maps view. You just need to scroll the map to the destination point and then point and hold on the spot till the map shows a location popup. You can click on the "x" mark to close it if you choose wrongly. Click on the popup itself will popup another menu. There are a number of choices. If you are simply going to a single place then click "Direction to here". The route will be plotted for you and a voice will tell you how far is the distance.

When you start to go along the planned route, it will tell you how far before you need to make the next turn. At the point of turning, it will again tell you to make the turn. On experience, the instruction to make the turn may come too late. It is good to listen to the anticipated turn and watch out for the turn rather than wait for the actual turn instruction.

If you are going to multiple places in a fixed order or you are actually planning a route of travel (for example a cycling route), you should plot the route in a route planner like mapometer.com. Export the route into OsmAnd in a directory called "tracks" (create one if it hasn't exist). On OsmAnd, press "menu" then "Directions". Choose the mode of travel then click "GPX route". You can then choose the route you downloaded. Click on "Pass along entire track". Click "Reverse GPX direction" if you are returning from the destination. Proceed to the starting point and the voice guidance will start.

If you missed a turn, the navigation system will re-plot a route for you. If you are using the plotted route, it will plan a new route to the nearest point to your predefined route.

One nice thing is that if you happened to stop and start again on the route, it will repeat the instruction to the next turn. It will also warn you if the GPS is lost.

I do experience silence during navigation. You may need to activate the map screen and click "menu", "Where am I?" to get back to the navigation. Wait till the gps fix is done and it will continue the navigation.