OS Maps App FAQ - iOS (Apple iPhone)


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The basics

Viewing maps


My Activities

Map downloads with a paper map

Purchasing a subscription

Map downloads for subscribers

Other Features

Technical Questions

Look for:

OS Maps App for iOS - what's new

Version 1.14 for iPhone and iPad

New features and updates:

  • Subscriptions are now using the iTunes auto renewal feature.
  • Fixed a problem where users were warned to upgrade shortly before subscription expiry, but unable to do so

Previous release

  • Added the new 'My Activities' system. See here for more information on using it
  • Fix where routes were lost if the connection was lost during saving
  • Route filtering is now faster
  • Better logging to help us identify reasons for crashes
  • 'Send Feedback' button now attaches the crash logs to help us identify issues


Known issues

Having a large area of downloaded mapping (either from paper map codes or as a Premium user) can cause crashes when opening the app or switching to that map layer. The amount of mapping that can be downloaded depends on your individual device. Please remove any unneeded map sheets or downloads - you can download them again later if you subsequently need them again.

You cannot redeem paper map codes through the Apple version of OS Maps app. This is due to the Terms and Conditions placed on developers by Apple. You can redeem via a web browser using this link. For some users, Mobile Safari does not show the 'Success' page for code redemption properly. Please check your maps list in the app. If it is not present, try on another computer, or contact Customer Services for assistance.

When opening a route, the route panel with the information and height profile may not appear at the bottom of the the screen. Rotating the screen to landscape and back to portrait will resolve this.

When following a route or using the map the location arrow may become stuck. Rotating the screen to landscape and back to portrait will normally resolve this. If it is still stuck you may have lost GPS signal due to interference, such as tall buildings nearby.


Important note: Normally you should stay signed into the app to retain access to your user content. When you log out from the app any existing downloaded maps will be deleted and you will need to download them again after logging back in. For this reason, log out should be treated as a last resort for download or syncing issues.


The basics

What devices does OS Maps work on?

The OS Maps mobile app is available on Apple iPhones and iPads running iOS 9 and higher. There is also a version for Android devices. It is not available on Microsoft devices or Amazon Kindle. If you have an iOS 8 device you will be able to run any older versions of OS Maps already installed, but will not get any updates, and some features may be missing.

How do I register?

Just open the app and register with your details. This gives you access to features like saving a route and downloading maps you have purchased in the shops. You will need to have a data connection while registering.

The app says my email is already in use?

It may be that you already used your email address to create an account with us or buy a product. Either create a new account by using a different email address (if you have one) or use the 'I've lost my password' link on the login page of the main website. If you still get problems logging in, please let us know.

Why does the app ask for email and camera access permission?

The app can import and export routes as GPX files from your email. To allow this the app needs access to your emails. Disabling this will prevent you from creating routes from imported GPX files. Please note that exporting GPX files is limited to subscribers only.

The AR function uses the rear camera to show the landscape on screen, so requires camera permissions.


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Viewing maps

How do I switch between maps?

Use the 'layers' button in the bottom of the map screen to switch between the available map types.

How do I use the AR (augmented reality) view?

OS Maps app AR buttonOn the main map screen click the AR button in the bottom left corner. This will turn on the rear camera and the AR labels.

Hold the device up to the horizon, and labels will show the feature name and distance. Click on a text label to open a web page with information about that point. AR will work with no mobile phone signal, but opening the information page will require a data connection.

Why is the 50k / 25k map blank?

These maps will only display if you are a subscriber, or have downloaded the map using a code from a paper map, and when you zoom in to an appropriate level. Zoom in further to see the map detail.

How do I use the Greenspace layer?

  Public park or gardens, including village greens, nature reserves and similar
  Play space – childrens’ play area unless it’s inside a paid attraction or school. Includes features like skate parks.
  Playing field for football, rugby, cricket, etc. which is accessible to the public
  Sports – all sorts of sports facilities not in other categories, such as recreation centres and swimming pools. Includes both free access and paid facilities, but not places only for spectators.
  Golf course – including both private and public courses
  Allotments and community growing spaces. May not have public access.
  Religious grounds and cemeteries, where these have a reasonable amount of greenspace. May not be available all the time.

We’ve not included several features:

  • Woodlands, as these are already clearly marked with a green tint on the ‘standard’ map
  • Play areas and playing fields in school grounds, as these are generally not accessible to the public
  • National parks, open access land, rights of way in the countryside and similar, as the Greenspace map is for urban greenspace areas available to the public

What’s the night map for?

It’s useful when out at night as the low brightness will not spoil your night vision. It also saves battery life as less power is used by the screen.

How do I move around the map?

To move around, swipe left - right and up - down. You can zoom in and out using two-finger pinch and zoom controls.

Why can’t I zoom in further to see details?

The maximum zoom level depends on the exact device you are using, but on most devices will give a size similar to an printed map.

At times, it can be helpful to be able to zoom in further to see fine details. Fortunately, all recent iPhones and iPads include a really useful function to do this.

Turn on zoom: In iOS go into Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom and turn it on. There are some additional options you can set, such as the maximum zoom level (for OS Maps 5.0X is plenty) plus advanced controls.

Use in OS Maps: Zoom in as far as you can normally. Then double-tap with three fingers to turn on the zoom. A box will appear on screen, with the area under it magnified. You can still scroll around the map to view other areas, or grab the small white block at the bottom of the magnifier to move it around the screen. Double-tap with three fingers again to turn it off.

Bonus: You can use the zoom function in almost any app or screen to make it easier to see detail

Turning on the magnifierTurning on the magnifier
View without the magnifierView without the magnifier
View with the magnifierView with the magnifier

Use the 'Search for location' box at the top of your screen. As long as you're connected to the internet, we'll try to work out the name of the place you're trying to find as you type. Confirm the name of the location and we'll zoom straight to it.

If we can't find a match, we'll suggest the next best result. If there's nothing at all on our database, please check the spelling of your search.

The search uses your data connection. If you are offline search functionality will not be available.

How do I find map features, such as pubs or places to stay?

Map features will be introduced in a future release.


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How do I plot a route?

Tap on 'Plot a route' in the app's main menu. Or if you prefer, tap on the location marker that shows where you are now and we'll give you the option to plot a new route. We'll also ask you if you'd like to plot a route when you search for a new location.

Your first tap on the map tells us where you'd like to start. We'll identify that spot with a marker. Carry on tapping on the map to create other waypoints.

If you want to remove the point, use 'Undo' at the top of the screen.

Once you've completed your route, tap 'Save', and we'll identify the last waypoint as your destination with another marker. You can then name your route and make notes about it for future reference.

At the bottom of the screen, we'll also keep you updated about the elevation profile of your route.

How do I use snap-to-path route planning?

You need to be a subscriber to use the automatic snap to path route creation in National Parks. To start, change your map layer to 'Offroad Routing'. If you zoom out you will see the National Parks highlighted in pink - snap to path is only available in these areas. As you zoom in you will see individual roads and paths highlighted with pink to indicate they can be used. At the moment we have only created the path network for the National Parks. You can continue a route out of the National Park, but the snap to path feature will be disabled, and standard point to point mapping only will be active.

Next, select Route > Create Custom Route. Begin creating a new route as normal, and select walking or running to use all paths, or cycling to limit your route to roads, bridleways and other suitable paths. The 'snap' button in the top right will appear and default to on (blue).

Click on the map to create your first point – it will jump to the nearest road or path if needed. Now create your next point. It can be some distance from the first, and a new route will connect the two, following the shortest available route.

Snap routing will always follow the shortest suitable path, which may sometimes take you along busy roads or other places you would rather avoid. Use points on junctions to control the path.

If you want to plot a section of your route that does not follow a recognised path, you can easily turn off the snap to route option. Click the ‘snap’ button so that it is no longer coloured, and your points will stay exactly where you drop them, connected with straight lines. This is ideal if you are planning a walk across open country or to reach a specific peak that does not have an official path.

At the moment, you can only plan routes using snap routing on the 'National Parks pathways' map layer. However, you can switch to 25K or 50K mapping at any time using the normal map layer selector.

Routes created using the snap tool can be saved in the same way as a normal route.

How do I find my saved routes?

From the menu, when you are logged in, select 'My Routes'. All your previously saved routes will be listed.

Tap on a route name to view it on the map.

Can I see the routes created on the OS Maps browser version?

The version 1.3 release brings automatic 2-way synchronisation between the iOS app the the desktop version. When a data connection is available, all routes you have created on the desktop version will synchronise to your mobile device and will then appear in your routes library, even when you are offline. Similarly, routes created on your mobile device using either the record function or the route planning function will appear on the desktop version of OS Maps so you can review route details or print maps.

If you do not have route sychronisation available, please check that you are running the latest version of the app, which is only available in iOS 9 and later.

How do I record a route?

In the menu just choose the ‘Record a route’ function and click the ‘Record’ button to start. You can pause a recording for a time, or stop it altogether, then save the route to your routes library.

How do I export a route as a GPX file?

You need to be a subscriber to export a route as a GPX file. Find the route from your routes list, click Menu > Options > Export. This will generate the GPX file, and you will be able to send it to email, message or other destinations, depending on apps installed.

How do I create a route from a GPX file?

You need to send the GPX file by email to your device. In your email, click on the attached GPX file and choose to open with OS Maps. The file will be imported and shown as a route. Alternatively, you can use the desktop version of OS Maps and the route will appear on your device as soon as it is synchronised.

Can I show routes in miles not kilometres and vice versa?

Yes. Under 'My Account', choose 'My Preferences' and 'Units and measurements' and tell us which measurement you'd like to see.

We'll make the changes to height and distance together, so you can't mix miles with metres for example, or kilometres with feet.

The estimated time for my route was too fast or too slow!

We use your average speed for walking, running and cycling to calculate the estimated time. You can change this in Menu > My Preferences > Calculate Route Times. Your settings for average speed are also shared with the desktop browser version of OS Maps, and any other iOS devices using the same account. We also use Naismith's Rule, which adds 10 minutes for every 100 m of vertical ascent. There is no adjustment calculated for descents or difficult terrain.

These times are only estimations and will vary considerably depending on individual abilities, local conditions and weather.

How do I find routes that other people have created?

Click the 'map layers' button in the bottom right, and select the new 'Routes' option. You will see markers shown on the map in the currently viewed area. Click on a marker to see the route details.

You will need to have a data connection to search for routes, but you can turn it off once you have started using the 'follow' function.

Use the 'Close' button to close the route view and choose a different route.

Can I change the colour or transparency of my route on the map?

Yes. While plotting or editing a route, click the ‘options’ button in the bottom left corner. Set your preferred route options, then hit ‘Done‘. Changes will be saved when you save the route, and will be synchronised with the web version.

You can also set the default route style for all routes viewed on the device, which is used when to specific route options have been set. Go to Menu > My Preferences > Route Styling to set a default route style. Default route styles are not saved with the route, and so do not sync to the web or other devices.


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My Activities distance counter

How do I use 'My Activities'?

Start the 'My Activities' distance counter by selecting it from the main menu from any map screen. It's designed to make it as easy as possible to keep track of how far you’ve walked – even if you forget to record a route while walking. There are four different ways to add miles to the counter:

  1. Record a route: at the end of recording you’ll be asked if you want to add the distance to your activity record
  2. Follow a route: once you’ve followed a route you’ll be asked if you want to add the distance to your activity record. It will log the distance of the planned route, not the actual distance covered
  3. Use an existing route: useful if you do the same walk regularly, but don’t always have your phone to hand or want to record it each time
  4. Plot a route: simply plot a new route to get the mileage added to the counter


What happens if I use more than one device?

Your activity record syncs across web, Android and iOS of OS Maps – you just need to be signed in with the same OS Maps account. You can find the My Activities Section under the main menu on OS Maps mobile, and the user menu on the top right of OS Maps web.


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Map downloads with a paper map

Do all maps have a digital download?

All OS Explorer (1: 25 000 scale) and OS Landranger (1: 50 000 scale) series paper maps have a digital download included. Mobile downloads are not available for OS Tour maps or Historical Maps. You can identify the maps with mobile download by the blue ‘Includes mobile download’ badge on the cover.

Do I need specialist software or an app?

Yes, you'll need to install the OS Maps app. You can get this from Apple Play Store; it's absolutely free and doesn't take long to download.

You can't download these maps to a computer. For this, please look at OS Maps online. For OS maps on your GPS device please check with the device manufacturer.

How do I activate the code on my map?

You have to redeem the code on the website using the same account as used on the mobile device. Follow the instructions on the page to claim your download.

How do I download the map to my device?

Follow the instructions here to redeem the map code and attach it to your user account. Make sure you login with the same email address you use to login to the app.

Map download listMap downloads for paper maps, custom selections and switch to show on the overview map
Paper map downloads listPaper map downloads list. Green is available offline, grey can be downloaded
Downloaded and available mapsGreen area is downloaded map, grey is one available to download

How can I see which map areas I have available or downloaded?

In Menu > My Offline Maps turn on ‘Show offline areas on map’. Return to map view and zoom out. Offline areas will show with a green highlight. Maps available to download (but not currently downloaded) will show as a grey highlight. Turn the function back off to revert to normal.

Downloading many maps at once can cause issues, overloading your device and causing slow response or crashing when you try to view maps. Delete maps you are not currently using to both save storage space and improve app speed.

The number of maps you can have depends on your device and other apps installed.

In the OS Maps app ensure you are logged in and go to Menu > My Offline Maps > Paper map downloads

The new map will show up in the list marked as ‘Not available offline’. Click the download button next to this to start the download. One downloaded it will show as ‘Available offline’. To save space you can remove the download at any time and download it again, even on another device.

Can I download the same map to more than one device?

Yes. You can download your map to multiple devices, as long as you log into OS Maps using the same account details. Our terms state that each map should only be on one device at a time.

Will my map update with any changes automatically?

No, the digital version you've downloaded will match the version of the paper map you bought.

How will I know if my map is out of date?

Check the OS shop website to see when we issued the latest version. It is listed under 'Specifications' in the product description, and compare this to the publish date on your paper map.

What if my map code doesn't work?

Please check that you have entered the code correctly. The codes are all letters, and are printed all in upper case. If your code still does not work please contact customer services.

What account details should I use in the OS Maps app?

The app uses the same login details as your OS Maps online account or OS Shop account, and you will have access to additional features if you are a subscriber. By using the same account in both the app and desktop we can help you keep track of your maps and automatically synchronise your saved routes.

What if my map does not have a code?

Only maps with the 'Mobile Download' logo on the cover will have a code. Look for the silver scratch-off panel on the inside cover, and scratch this off to reveal your 12-letter code. If this is already scratched off it may already have been used - please return the map to the retailer for a new copy with an unused code.

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Purchasing a subscription

Why do I need to subscribe?

Subscribing gives you access to the OS Explorer (1: 25 000 scale) and OS Landranger (1: 50 000 scale) mapping and the ability to download any section of map for use offline. Your subscription also gives you access to the full features of OS Maps online, the desktop version, including more advanced route planning tools, national parks snap to path routing and larger prints.

How do I buy a subscription?

You can purchase a subscription in the app or through this website - see the subscription options here. To make a purchase in-app, select 'Go premium' from the menu and choose a subscription length. You will be asked to log in to iTunes to confirm the purchase.

How do I cancel a subscription?

If you have purchased a recurring Premium subscription through the web, you can cancel your next renewal at any time by contacting customer services.

If you have subscribed through iTunes in the app, you can cancel from your mobile device:

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > iTunes & App Store
  • Select your Apple ID at the top of the screen
  • Select View Apple ID.
  • Select Subscriptions, and then the subscription for OS Maps
  • Select 'options' to manage your subscription. You can choose a different subscription length, or 'Cancel Subscription' to cancel. As subscriptions are taken in advance, your subscription will continue until end of the current period.

To cancel from a desktop computer:

  • Open iTunes
  • Sign in with your Apple ID if required
  • From the menu at the top of the iTunes window, choose Account > View My Account
  • Scroll to the Settings section
  • To the right of Subscriptions, Click Manage
  • To the right of the subscription you want to manage, click Edit. You can choose a different subscription length select 'Cancel Subscription'. Your subscription will continue until end of the current period

What happens if I buy a subscriptions through the app and the mapshop?

Your newly-purchased subscription will extend any existing subscription no matter where the subscription is purchased from. This means if you renew early you won't lose out.

What is a 'Guest Subscriber'?

If you want, you can purchase a subscription in the app without creating an OS Maps account. This means you can use the OS Maps app, but will lose the route backup and synchronisation features. We recommend all users with Guest Subscriber accounts click the 'Free Upgrade' option and create an account with their email address and a password. This will allow you to log in to OS Maps on desktop as a full subscriber, synchronise your routes and potentially use your subscription across multiple devices - even Android ones.

What happens if I change phone while I have an active subscription?

If you have an OS Maps account, simply log in on your new phone and your subscription will be carried over, along with the rights to any paper map downloads (although you will need to download these and any downloaded map to your device memory). This will work even if you switch to an Android device or a newer iOS device. If you are a guest subscriber then your subscription receipt is stored in iCloud, you can restore this and continue to use your OS Maps subscription on your new phone or tablet.

If you are changing from an iOS device to an Android one, whilst you still have your iOS device, go to Menu > Free Upgrade and register for an account with us. If you don’t link your subscription bought through iTunes to an Ordnance Survey map shop account, you will be unable to get Subscriber access on your new Android device. This is because you can’t sync purchases directly between iTunes and Google Play accounts.

I have bought a subscription - why can't I see the routes i have created on web on my mobile? (or vice versa)

This is because:

  • You are a guest subscriber and need to press the free upgrade and register your email address with us. This will then give you the ability to see your routes across web and mobile or
  • You may be using two different usernames (logins) for web and app. Wherever possible, please use the same email address to log in to each account as otherwise we will not be able to sync your routes or
  • You may be using an older version of the app. Upgrade to iOS 9 and then update the app to the latest version.

What happens to my content once my subscription expires?

You will receive a notification on your mobile seven, two and one days before your subscription expires. To ensure no effects, please renew before your current subscription expires. Any remaining time will be added to your new subscription.

If you choose not to renew your subscription, you will lose access to the subscriber-only features such as additional map types and GPX file exporting. Additionally, the following will happen:

Guest subscribers who have not created an OS Maps account

  • Routes saved on the device are deleted
  • Saved offline maps are deleted
  • Guest subscribers cannot access redeemed paper map downloads

Registered subscribers who have created an OS Maps account

  • Routes will still be available in the app and online
  • Redeemed paper map downloads are retained and are still available
  • Saved offline maps are deleted

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Map downloads for subscribers

How do I save maps for offline use?

Subscribers to OS Maps can download mapping for any part of the country for offline use.

There are two methods

Method 1: download an arbitrary area

  • While you have a data connection (preferably Wi-Fi, as downloads can be large), scroll or search to find the area you are interested in.
  • Click Menu > My Offline maps > Add a custom offline map. Zoom in until the area you are interested in is on screen. Your download will cover the area on screen, plus a region approximately the same size in each direction, and in the current map scale. Click the ‘Download’ button to start the download.
  • Name the download and click save in the top right. You can continue to download additional sections to cover a larger area. Click the 'cancel' button in the top left to cancel the download mode and return to normal mapping.
  • Downloaded maps will appear in Menu > My Downloaded Maps > Custom offline maps with the name you set. You can delete them when no longer required to save storage space.
Map download modeOS Maps in download mode
Naming a map downloadNaming a map download

Method 2: download a map for a route

  • Go to Menu > My Routes to show your current list of saved routes. Underneath the route, you will see a links that says ‘Offline map unavailable (download)'. Click the download button to download the map that covers that route. Choose the map scale to download.
  • A square section of map is downloaded that’s big enough to contain the entire route. It’s available even when not following the route, even if you are just browsing the area.

Top Tip: download a large area by creating a dummy route that extends from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the area needed. You only need two points. It’s ideal for grabbing a large section of map when you have planned a number of walks in one area.

Map download from a routeDownloading a map for a specific route
Green area showing map downloadedGreen highlight shows mad downloaded to cover the route
Creating a dummy route to download a large areaCreating a dummy route to download a large area
Dummy route in routes list with map download optionDummy route in routes list with map download option
Green shows large map area available offlineGreen shows large map area available offline

Downloading large areas of the country or having many smaller downloads can cause issues, overloading your device and causing slow response or crashing when you try to view maps. Delete any downloaded maps you are no longer using to both save storage space and improve app speed.

The total size of downloaded maps you can have depends on your device and other apps installed.

How do I see what offline maps I have downloaded?

In Menu > My Offline Maps turn on ‘Show offline areas on map’. Return to map view and zoom out. Offline areas will show with a green highlight. Turn the function back off to revert to normal.

You can also turn on ‘airplane mode’ to ensure the maps have downloaded successfully and cover the area needed.

How do I remove a downloaded map?

If you need to free space or no longer need a specific area, find your map in My Maps > Custom Offline maps then choose the ‘delete’ option. To delete a map for a route, find the route in your routes list and click the 'delete' button.

Can I update a downloaded map?

Not automatically. Delete the downloaded map and then download that area again. You will need a data connection to do this.

Why have I lost my downloaded maps?

The most common reason for this is because you have used the ‘Log out’ feature. As all downloads are linked to your OS Maps user account, they will be deleted if you choose to log out. As long as you do not log out of OS Maps, you are free to power off your device at any time.

Your downloads may also be lost if your subscription expires, and your downloaded maps are subscriber-only map types. To avoid this, ensure you renew your subscription before the end date.

You may also lose maps if you update the app and the new version is not compatible with your existing downloads, but we try to avoid this. If you are planning to use the app offline we suggest you check your downloaded maps list after running any updates.


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Other Features

How do I find my current location?

Use the ‘locate me’ button to jump directly to your location. This will use the GPS signal to locate your location as accurately as it can. If your device does not have a GPS chip, if GPS is disabled or there is no signal (such as in a building or near tall cliffs) this will not work.

We will show a faint blue circle around your position to indicate the estimated accuracy of your position. Your true location may be anywhere within the circle.

How do I use the compass?

Click the ‘locate me’ button twice to activate the compass. This will show the heading and the grid reference. On smaller device you may need to rotate the screen to landscape orientation to show the grid reference.

Why can I not see anything in AR view?

When you first start AR you will be asked to set it up by downloading the set of points to your device. Until this is done you will not be able to use the AR feature.

Unfortunately, on some devices you may need to delete the app and download it again to trigger the points download. Once it is done you will go immediately to AR mode.

Why do the points in AR not line up with the features?

AR relies on two functions: GPS location and compass. Please ensure these are turned on and the app has permission to use them.

GPS location can take a few minutes to be accurate, especially if you have not used it in some time. Waiting with the app active will slowly give increased accuracy. If a GPS signal is not available, such as inside a building, AR may incorrectly estimate your location.

Your built-in compass needs regular calibrating in order to be accurate. Use the built-in compass calibration system by turning it on at Settings > Privacy >Location Services > System Services > Compass Calibration and then use the built in compass app to trigger calibration. If the compass is inaccurate, features will not line up in AR view.

How do I use the Route Follow function?

One you have a route on screen, one you have either created or imported, you can activate the follow function using the ‘follow route’ button.

This will warn you when you go off course

Why can I not see a specific feature in AR?

OS Maps app AR settings buttonThere are over 200,000 points in the AR database, which means we cannot show every point at once. There is currently a maximum distance of 10 miles (16km). The app will choose which points to display based on how far away they are and their 'priority' score to ensure the screen is not overcrowded. Generally, closer features and more important ones will be shown. You can filter by clicking the settings button and choosing which types of features you are interested in, which may make more distant features visible.

How do I see what the map symbols mean or get a map legend/key?

To save storage space, the map legends are not included in the initial app download but is downloaded the first time you open it. To find it go to: Menu > About > Map Legend and choose the scale or layer you are interested in.


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Technical Questions

What data does OS Maps app use?

Viewing maps, search, login downloading maps and some other functions all require data, either Wi-Fi or over the phone network. Viewing a lot of map or downloading maps can use quite a lot of data, so if you have a limited data plan we recommend using Wi-Fi where possible.

How does the app affect battery life?

Viewing maps uses the screen and mobile data (unless you are using offline maps), which will use the battery. Using GPS functions, including the locate me, route recording and route following features can also have a significant impact of battery life. We suggest turning these features off when you don’t need them.

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