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Avenza Maps 3.5 Released

We’re excited to announce that we’ve completed the release of Avenza Maps 3.5 for iOS and Android.  This update contains new features and performance improvements as well as fixes for reported issues. Some highlights are mentioned below, for the full release notes see below.

Plus subscription. We’ve renamed the Unlock Map Imports subscription tier to Plus. The simply named Plus subscription tier will better align with more features that we’ll be introducing in the near future. This subscription still allows you to import as many of your own maps as you want—ideal for map and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoying sourcing and loading their own or third-party maps.

Active and inactive maps. In this release we’re introducing the ability to make imported maps (not including those downloaded from the Map Store) inactive. In previous releases, the standard version (without a paid subscription) allowed you to only import up to three of your own maps into the app and were limited from importing any more. However, now you’ll be able to import as many of your own maps as you’d like. The first three imported maps will be considered ‘active’ and available to use with all of the app’s functionality. Subsequent imported maps will be considered ‘inactive’. Inactive maps can still be opened and viewed, but without GPS location and map tools enabled. You will have the ability to delete active maps that you no longer use and then activate new ones to stay within the three active map limit. Maps downloaded from the Map Store (versus imported from an external source) are always location-enabled and are never limited. To import an unlimited number of your own maps with full location-enabled features and functionality, Plus and Pro subscriptions are available.

Sort and filter your maps. This release provides some handy sort and filter options on the My Maps screen. You’ll have the ability to sort by distance (how far away a map is from your current location), by name, by date, and by how much storage the map takes (measured in MB). In addition, you’ll now be able to filter maps to show only those from the Map Store, maps that you imported, folders and collections, active or inactive maps, just maps (no folders), or all items.

 

Map Store Login and My Account improvements. The user interface around logging and viewing your Avenza Maps account details has been vastly improved. You now have the ability to change your password, change your email, and view your download history. The Download History screen has new functionality as well. Previously you were only able to download one map at a time. Now you’ll be able to select multiple maps at a time and download in bulk. In addition, you’ll also be able to access map descriptions without having to go to the Map Store to look it up.

 

Layers now available on Avenza Maps for Android. Rejoice Android users, layers are finally here! Having the same functionality as the iOS version, map features (placemarks, lines, tracks, areas, photos, and schema) are now contained on layers. Map features can be managed here, including adding, deleting, and editing map feature information. In addition, the layers can be linked (and unlinked) to maps, so that map data can continue to be used even if a map is no longer on the device. Similarly, if that map is installed again, you’ll be able to link that layer to the map again. You’ll also be able to export layers data directly from the Layers screen without having to go into each map.

 

Better quality Map Store previews. All of the map listing previews in the Map Store have been updated and now have higher resolution of busy sections of the map to provide better detail of features, lines, labels, and colours.

Release Notes

  • User experience improvements, including sorting and filter options on the My Maps screen
  • Newly designed Map Store Login and My Account screens
  • Re-discover, select and re-download previously purchased Map Store maps using new options available on the Downloads History screen
  • Export Layers data directly from the Layers screen
  • Link a layer to any available maps or unlink from all maps from the Edit Layer screen
  • Better quality map previews in Map Store
  • More granular control of map features’ visibility
  • Manage, import or export your data independently of maps using the new Layers tab on Android
  • Brand new bottom navigation bar on Android

 

You can get Avenza Maps now from the App Store and Google Play.

Best Practices for Processing and Importing Maps into the Avenza Maps App

Avenza Maps is capable of importing and displaying georeferenced maps in several different formats. The app processes a map by rasterizing and tiling it on import. The speed and result of processing will vary depending on the type of file used and the size and dimensions. We’ll discuss the types of files allowed and the advantages of each.

Usually larger files take longer to process than smaller ones with some exceptions. An image may have a very high resolution but a small disk size due to image compression. It is recommended that images be less than 100 megapixels for upload to the app. A geospatial PDF file with many vector features may also take a long time to process. In this case, you should convert the file to an image to avoid having to rasterize vector data in the app.

Maps can be loaded into the app faster by processing them before import. Maps can also be preprocessed by uploading them to the Avenza Maps Store or using the Export to Avenza Maps tool in Geographic Imager or MAPublisher.

Comparison of Allowed File Types

GeoTIFF

A GeoTIFF is a TIFF file (Tagged Image File Format) with spatial information embedded in the file. This format is typically the preferred format for uploading directly to Avenza Maps without preprocessing. Since this is an image format, the app doesn’t need to rasterize the file on import meaning processing times will generally be faster compared to PDF’s, and it will maintain the native resolution.

It is also possible to import a normal TIFF file by zipping it with a TIFF World File (TFW) and either a WKT or PRJ file which contains projection information. It is best not to do this for the sake of simplicity. Usually, any GIS software that can produce a world file will also be able to save to GeoTIFF.

Geospatial PDF

A Geospatial PDF stores spatial data in either raster or vector format as well as associated attributes and layer information. Files should comply with the Adobe Acrobat PDF 1.7 specification which has been standard since 2006.

Avenza Maps rasterizes geospatial PDF files on import which discards layer and attribute information. PDF files typically take longer to process than image files. There is also a chance that the file may process incorrectly (e.g. discarding labels).

Despite this, there are some instances when it may be preferable to use a geospatial PDF file. For example, the map may already be in this format and isn’t worthwhile to convert to another format. Geospatial PDF files tend to be smaller than image files so they would be a good solution if device storage space or download speed is an issue. Also, occasionally converting from PDF to TIFF degrades the image quality and may make maps illegible.

To ensure a geospatial PDF file has a good balance between size and quality, open the file in Adobe Acrobat and go to Advanced > PDF Optimizer. This is especially helpful if the map contains large raster images.

JPEG

JPEG is an image format like TIFF but it does not have the ability to store spatial information. To load a JPEG into Avenza Maps, it must be zipped with a JPEG World File (JGW) and either WKT or PRJ file. JPEG files are compressed so this may be an option to consider if file size is a consideration, however, a better alternative would be to compress a GeoTIFF file.

Processing Maps with MAPublisher, Geographic Imager, and the Map Store

It is best to process maps before loading them into the app because desktop computers are more powerful than mobile devices. It also avoids having to process the file each time the map is loaded onto a device. Geographic Imager and MAPublisher each have a utility to export to an Avenza Maps package with the capability to upload directly to the Avenza Map Store if you have a vendor account.

Running these utilities produces a folder that contains a ZIP file with a thumbnail to show a preview of the map, a reference file, and a folder called tiles that contains a tiled version of the map in PNG format. This ZIP file can be imported into the app in the same way as other files.

Uploading a map to the Avenza Map Store processes the map the same way. To use the store, register a vendor account on the Avenza Maps website.