Gaia could easily be the best mapping program, but for a couple of problems. We already know the good points so I want to list a few issues I see that is holding it back. I am a professional user (AMGA Ski Guide)
. 1. The ability to freehand draw routes. The waypoint to waypoint straight-line drawing limitation makes it difficult to create "true" routes that take into account small terrain variations and clutters the map with too many waypoints.
2. The ability to split and join routes. **This is the biggest problem in my opinion**. When route planning it makes sense to draw a complete route and then be able to break it up afterwards into legs so that you can analyze each leg, this is important for day and multi-day route planning. If they fixed this problem alone, I don't know why you would use any other app.
3. There was a feature on an older app called topo! that gave you an instant idea of distances on the map while navigating. toggling a button would put a radar like ring around your current position, each ring on the radar surrounding you was measured in .5 mile (or 1000 feet) increments out to about 2 miles depending on your current zoom. This was supremely handy to determine about how far you were from your next objective/terrain features. would love to have this feature added!
that is really it. although here are a couple of other minor thoughts.
1. people complain about the folder/file system. I don't think this is a major issue, it works fine once you figure it out.
2. the watch app is essentially worthless and I have a hard time imagining that it ever will work in any meaningful way. it seems like spending resources on this would be better spent elsewhere. We always carry our phones on outings for a variety of reasons in addition to mapping (communications, entertainment, etc)- so having the phone app work great is all we are really looking for.
3. downloading maps feature could be better, it works but is often difficult to really understand which layers you currently have downloaded and which you might be missing. I know these Ux problems are supremely difficult and someone will always be unhappy no matter what you do.
4. Lastly, caltopo has a layer called map builder that somehow integrates satellite imagery (I think?) and subtly shades micro terrain features into/onto the topo. this really makes for a beautifully detailed map by showing small gully and ridge features etc. I don't know if Gaia can match this (I know you can layer the sat images in manually, but it is difficult to get it exactly where you want it and caltopo has it perfectly set so you don't have to fiddle with it).
anyway, I want to keep using Gaia forever. I hope they might be able to knock in a couple of these features to make it perfect.
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