Route Planning With Mapkin

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For the past few years I've been geo-caching my favorite motorcycle rides with the Motion-X GPS for iOS. It's a great app with tons of features and functionality but it was only solving part of my problem. What I really want is the ability to load my pre-planned or saved routes with turn by turn navigation and voice guidance. I have a power adapter for my iPhone on my motorcyle so I have no issues with constant GPS usage and power consumption.

Lately I've been pre-planning routes in Google Maps but then I have to jump through all kinds of hoops to get the data converted into a proprietary format for some app that might or might not work. It's been frustrating to say the least.

Everything I've tried over the past few months has either been cumbersome or unreliable. Just to be clear, I've been looking for an iOS based solution without having to spend several hundred dollars on a standalone navigation unit that would need additional power and mounting.

Motion-X GPS

  • awesome GPS tracking and geo caching but doesn't offer turn by turn navigation of saved routes

Motion-X Drive

  • decent navigation but doesn't allow importing of custom routes

Google Maps

  • great turn by turn navigation with voice guidance and re-routing, but doesn't allow importing of custom maps

Google Earth

  • will load saved maps from my Google account but does not offer turn by turn navigation with voice guidance

Sygic

  • requires a proprietary file format that I was never able to get working on OSX

Cycle Meter

  • a beautiful app that allows importing of custom routes but is tailored for cyclists and not ideal for motorcycling

I've read that Navigon has some of the features I'm looking for but I've been burned before and I'm not looking to waste $40 on something that might not work.

Then it dawned on me…

Rather than try and create maps on my desktop, convert and import to iOS, maybe someone already has an iOS app for creating custom maps with turn by turn navigation. BINGO. It's called Mapkin and it's amazing. Here is the App Store link.

I built a route from Huntington Beach to Rancho Palos Verdes. I wanted to test how well Mapkin works in the real world with many turns and mixed road types. From the beginning I was impressed with Mapkin's UI and it's ease of use. I finished my first custom map in a few minutes. I usually like to build round-trip routes so I don't have to worry about getting home and Mapkin handled it perfectly.

Note: The big image at the top of this post is the route I created with Mapkin.

Mapkin's Strengths

  • clean UI and exceptional usability
  • near perfect turn by turn navigation and voice guidance
  • will guide you to starting waypoint from your current location
  • it's FREE

Mapkin's Weaknesses

  • ability to create/edit maps on the web (they did say it's coming soon)
  • it would be nice to be able to import .gpx or .kml's but it's not a deal breaker

I'm very excited to see where Mapkin is going. It's a fantastic piece of software and I wish them all the success in the world.