Another iPhone App that I am finding indispensable in bike explorations is Maplets. Maplets is an archive of simple specialized maps that typically cover a very small region. Think tourist brochures, university campus maps, chamber of commerce town maps, official National Park or National Monument maps, public transportation maps, or trail maps that have been printed by the local riding club. In addition to being able to search, the app is location aware so that it lists available maps for nearby areas. The developers claim that they will make every effort to scan maps that are requested by users, but I have never taken them up on this. Once the app is purchased for $2.99, downloading maps — which usually takes about a minute over a 3G network — is free.
All of this would be great and fine, but what makes Maplets incredibly useful is that the GPS will locate you with the familiar blue dot on many of the maps (in fact, on every one that I’ve tried). I’ve found this stunningly handy, as the maps are so often of places that are not covered in detail by Google, Bing, or Garmin. Since the maps have been downloaded to your phone, and since the GPS does not require mobile phone signal, navigating can be done without being connected to a network.