Tuesday, July 5, 2011

MapCache - Offline Maps for WP7

Update: MapCache is now available in the Windows Phone Marketplace here: MapCache Offline Maps for WP7

Offline Maps for WP7
Offline Maps for WP7

I have a shiny WP7 smartphone, but I don't have a data plan. I just don't need it enough to justify the hefty monthly fee. I like paying the roughly $8 a month that GoPhone service costs me.

Still, the phone has that nice GPS functionality, and having a map in your pocket can really come in handy sometimes. But how can you have access to a map without a data plan?

The solution - map caching. MapCache is an application that lets you browse around a map while you have a connection, all the while caching the map areas you view for later use offline.

Note that this isn't just useful for people like me without data plans. In can also be useful when:
  • you have a limited data plan that you want to minimize use of
  • you want to avoid prohibitive roaming charges
  • you want maps when you are in an area of limited or no coverage

A while back, I was in Tijuana with a group of people, many of whom had smartphones with data plans. Everyone wanted to use maps on their phones, but the roaming data charge was so expense that it just didn't make sense. A pre-cached map would have solved the problem.

Offline Maps for WP7
Offline Maps for WP7

MapCache has most of the features you would expect from a smartphone mapping application. It locates you via GPS, and you can browse around the map or use search tools to find places or businesses. The map tile data comes from openstreetmap.org which, unlike map services from Google or Microsoft, allows you to cache data. Place and local business search are provided by Yahoo! PlaceFinder and Local Search.

The application is pretty much finished. I'm wrapping up a few remaining items on my todo list, and plan to submit it to the WP7 marketplace shortly.


  1. Great idea! Android just came out with a new feature for this. It's part of Google Maps (beta feature) where you can download an offline map of an area.

  2. It makes sense to have it integrated into the core mapping app. Not sure why it hasn't been included before - probably licensing issues upstream with the map data providers.