The Cartographer: Bring the Beauty Back to Maps

The Cartographer started from an idea, an appreciation for something that we now see as mundane and boring. Nautical charts and maps were once seen as symbols of wealth and power. They were handed down from generation to generation and were extremely valuable. They were symbols of status, with kings and queens owning hand-made maps that were beautiful works of art. Maps opened up the world around you, making it possible for travel and exploration.

Today, maps have lost their beautify and flair. They have changed from objects to be cherished into objects to be stored in the back of you motor vehicle. The Cartographer is all about bringing the beauty back into your maps. It’s about building maps, travelling the world, and having fun.

A Beautifully Unique Interface

Cartographers interface looks amazing on the iPhone 4 Retina Display

The Cartographers interface looks amazing on the iPhone 4 Retina Display

While today we don’t see value or beauty in our maps, we do see beauty in our apps. Whether it’s Camera+, Take Five, Calcbot, and now The Cartographer, finding apps that are well designed is rare and they almost instantly become extremely popular. The Cartographer’s interface takes you back to the days when maps were hand-made works of art. It features high quality Retina display graphics that look amazing. Maps are transformed by a vintage paper overlay, giving them an aged look. You can also customize pinpoints of locations and choose from a library over nearly 100 unique vintage icons. Personalize each location with it’s own pinpoint icon.

Explore

Explore the world or take a trip to somewhere far away.

Explore the world or take a trip to somewhere far away. Either way, The Cartographer makes it easy to plan and enjoy that trip.

The Cartographer is all about exploring new locations and revisiting your favorite places. Sync up your Google Maps account and Cartographer will download all your “My Maps” from Google. Select a map and start exploring it using an interface similar to Maps. Load up any of your current Google Maps or create a entirely new map that you can build upon. Tap a pin on the map to learn more about it. Select the Navigate option and it will open up the Maps with directions from your current location.

The Cartographer is great when you’re planning a road trip, or exploring a new location. Just open up maps.google.com on your desktop and start searching for interesting places. As you find them, add them to a new map titled “Places I would like to see”. As you search and discover, you built your very own map that is personalized with the locations you’d like to visit. Now open Cartographer and using the built-in CoreLocation feature, you’ll be able to locate yourself on the map and find the nearest places.

When you start adventuring out into the world, you might find that you venture somewhere new. You venture into a previously unknown location that you really like and would like to visit again. Just open up Cartographer and click the auto-locate button. Then tap the new pin button and drag it over the location. Tapping on the pin brings up an information menu where you can customize the pin icon, the place title and the description. You can even share the location with friends and family on Twitter.

Cartographer allows disable map downloading and can also sync your Google Maps data.

The Cartographer allows disable map downloading and can also sync your Google Maps data.

Needed Improvements

The Cartographer is still a child in terms of its development. It was released a few weeks ago and will continue to grow over the next few years. As with any 1.0, there are occasional bugs and missing features that will later be added. Here are my thoughts on some interesting features and changes to make in future versions.

First off, The Cartographer currently has a known issue with it crashing on extremely large public Google Maps. It works perfectly for 99% of maps, but if you have joined a Public Map on My Maps and the map is extremely large, you might experience a crash. At this moment the only fix is removing yourself from that map. The Cartographer teams are working on a fix for submission in the next few weeks.

Suggested Features

  • Augmented Reality setting or at least some form of 3D-ish way of showing all the places in your surrounding area. This would make it really easy to visually see upcoming places.
  • Social Check-Ins/ Itineraries would help make that adventure experience even better. With the push of a button, you can see upcoming spots sorted by distance from your currently location. Perhaps even a check mark where you can check off items you have already visited. Social Check-Ins could be integrated with Gowalla and added to the Share menu.
  • Make it easier to find specific locations on the go. Perhaps a search bar above the map for easy searching of a location. At this time you have to know where the location is on the map before entering it in.
  • Integrate location info from Yelp or Google Places to make information pages more robust. Users can find location such as phone number, street address, and other important information.

Conclusion

The Cartographer is truly a unique app for exploring the world around you. With such incredible detail in graphics, you almost want to treasure each and every map that you view. It offers great features and amazing graphics that make this application a must buy for all travelers.

If you find yourself wishing you could plan adventures or keep track of your favorite spots, then Cartographer is the perfect app for you. Cartographer is currently $1.99 on the Apple app store.


Summary

The Cartographer is an amazingly beautiful maps application that lets you explore the world around you. It features synchronization with Google Maps, offline Data support, and an amazing user interface.

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