Locus

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Locus
Screenshot of Locus
Author: menion.asamm
Website: http://www.locusmap.eu/
Version: v2.19.1 (2014-02-21)
License: proprietary (free, paid)
Platform: android

Online/Offline map viewer (area downloader or tile cache), support slippy (non-free too) and vector maps (MapsForge library), guiding, routing and basic navigation (online only), track recording with detailed POIs (including photos) and altitude correction, extensive geocaching support, WMS maps and more

Locus is a powerful map app and actively developed with clearly recognizable emphasis on user's feedback. It can be used with online maps, much like the standard Android Google Maps app, but supporting a big amount of map providers including several OSM based services. Because of the extended offline functionality, it is also well suited for activities with limited network coverage (e.g. mountain hiking, open sea sailing) or which requires expensive network roaming (e.g. traveling). Because of the sensor support, e.g. to record heart rate, it's well suited for sports. Last but not least, it is an official Geocaching app.


Locus offers many useful features such as:

  • Big list of online maps, tiles are cached automatically and download manager offers to make them offline maps (depending on map license)
  • Mapsforge vector maps supporting on-the-fly change between multiple rendering themes (city, hiking, skiing etc)
  • Navigation with spoken (TTS) directions, calculation online or offline via co-apps (e.g. BRouter)
  • Guiding along a track or to a point, with spoken (TTS) directions
  • Hill shading and altitude auto-fill for points & tracks based on altitude database (online and offline)
  • WMS service
  • Track recorder supporting multiple recording profiles and NMEA raw data recording
  • Track management including folders, static & dynamic styles (e.g. altitude dependent track color), track statistics with zoomable elevation & velocity charts
  • POI management including folders, filters, icons, attachments like photos & sound recordings
  • Integration of Google My Maps (reading and editing), GPSies, Breadcrumbs, Street View and other
  • Geocaching
  • Parking assistant (reminds for time limits and helps to find the car)
  • Weather forecast service (only online)
  • POI alert
  • Search by address, coordinates, contact, POI name part
  • Dashboard / custom screen, can be created/edited by the user with an integrated dashboard editor
  • Map overlays, so multiple maps over each other
  • Image overlays & calibration, e.g. to take a photo of a special map of an information board and use it for orientation in the field
  • Several map projections and grids
  • Export and import in several formats like KML and GPX (supporting Garmin icon names)
  • Support for several data sources like internal (integrated) and Bluetooth GPS, Zephyr and Polar sensors (heart rate etc)
  • Customization options, e.g. completely hiding certain features, or changing icon orders
  • Integrated shop, e.g. for maps, dashboards, icon packs
  • Integration with co-apps, e.g. GPS averaging for more precise POI coordinates
  • API for developers

Some of the more advanced features like Dashboard or map overlays or NFC and ANT+ support are only available in the paid version, not in the cost free version.

Alternative OSM map access

Due to the popularity of Locus and the greatness of OSM there were high demand for OSM generated tiles which made official servers to choke and die. Since excessive access isn't desired Locus was blocked from using tile servers altogether.

The author of Locus created the possibility for vector maps well before the block (and repeatedly advised users not to use OSM tile servers), and the vector map support was streamlined so it is possibly one of the most useful mode available. It is available in both free and pro version.

Vector OSM maps available for free in several sources but due to their size it is often problematic to host them. One possible place is http://www.vectormaps4locus.eu/ which uses uploaded.to service.

Another way is to generate them from recent OSM dumps and simply move the .map file into the directory Locus/VectorMaps/.

Generating OSM vector maps

  1. You need a recent version of Osmosis (tested with v0.43)
  2. You need a recent version of mapsforge writer plugin
    • Download release version of mapsforge writer plugin
    • Move mapsforge-map-writer-*.jar into "osmosis/lib/default" directory
    • Create a new file "osmosis/config/osmosis-plugins.conf"
    • Add this line to the file "osmosis/config/osmosis-plugins.conf" (may be you must create it before):
      • org.mapsforge.map.writer.osmosis.MapFileWriterPluginLoader
  3. Get your preferred map from the kindly donated server of GeoFabrik, like http://download.geofabrik.de/osm/europe/hungary.osm.pbf
  4. Convert the file with osmosis:
    • osmosis --read-pbf "hungary.osm.pbf" --mapfile-writer file="hungary.osm.map"
  5. Binary format dumps contain the bounding box (unlike XML dumps, don't ask why), but you can still restrict it further by using the bbox= parameter, like for Hungary bbox=45.67,15.81,48.64,23.1
    • osmosis --read-pbf "hungary.osm.pbf" --mapfile-writer file="hungary.osm.map" bbox=45.67,15.81,48.64,23.1

Download offline maps

It is also possible to download precompiled maps for offline usage, e.g. for hiking, cycling, or traveling, when no (free) mobile Internet access is possible.

Locus can use vector maps in mapsforge format. They are quite compact (e.g. Italy is around 500MB) and one single map file can be displayed in different ways by switching the map theme. For example the maps & theme offered at http://www.openandromaps.org are designed for hiking and cycling but also useful for several other outdoor sports. It displays contour lines.

The raster/bitmap/tile map types that can be downloaded with Locus itself or with Mobile Atlas Creator cover various purposes, e.g. topographic outdoor sports maps from http://4UMaps.eu that is optimized for back country navigation (e.g. elevation lines, hill shading and outdoor attributes).