Designed to work with Nokia, Samsung and other handsets that use the Symbian S60 platform, ViewRanger is a trail navigation system for mountain bikers, hikers and outdoor activity enthusiasts. There's a huge selection of maps to choose from. You can buy Ordnance Survey maps of the UK, ones of other European countries or more specific regional ones or of national parks.
ViewRanger use the handset's integrated GPS to take your position and display a map of your location. We found it took just over a minute to successfully pinpoint our location. However, you can't enter a destination and get audiovisual turn-by-turn navigation to guide you to there. Instead, it will automatically go online and bring up a series of interesting nearby walks.
From our central London office, we were presented with a host of different routes that among other things took in London's Royal Parks, through to a tour of Whitechapel and Liverpool Street that centred on Jack the Ripper. The routes can be downloaded over the air in exchange for credits. You get 10 routes for £15.
As well as the routes, you get photos of the area, written directions and historical and other interesting notes. With no turn-by-turn navigation, you'll need to be capable of map reading to follow the route though. The navigation keys on the handset allow you to pan across the maps, while the * and # keys zoom in and out again.
We were impressed with the way the ViewRanger software worked with the handset's integrated camera. You can photograph a point of interest and assign it to your current GPS location for your own personal reference. These can even be added to ViewRanger's online TravelLog and shred with other users.
Those using ViewRanger in rural locations will make most use of the Panoramic mode that displays the height levels of the land and the sea and the GPS track log that records your GPS position and pre-selected intervals, ensuring you'll be able to find your way back if you go off-route. Meanwhile the Buddy Beacon shows you the GPS location of another users (providing they have authorised the function), which will help those that get separated from their friends during walks.
Some of the handsets ViewRanger is compatible with don't feature integrated GPS so you will need to invest in a Bluetooth GPS receiver to use the software. However, many of the handsets, including the Nokia N82 which we used to test the software, do come with integrated GPS, ensuring there's no further cost other than the cost of the software. The base price for maps is £15 for which you get the 1:50,000 detail GB Ordnance Survey map covering any 3,200sq km of your choosing.
While ViewRanger won’t give you turn-by-turn navigation to get from one destination to another, it’s the ideal solution of outdoor enthusiasts that want to pinpoint their location, take interesting walks or even have a back-up to ensure they can return if they get lost in a rural location.