Portland-based Ride With GPS has just turned your smartphone into a much more useful tool for exploring backroads by bike. On Monday they announced their biggest new feature since launching eight years ago: “offline maps,” which allow you to download route info and get voiced, turn-by-turn directions on your smartphone (iPhone or Android) even without a cell signal.
Combine these new offline maps with their already stellar GPS navigation and cycle-computer app (free, or $3.99 to unlock all features) and you’ve got what Kevin Prentice, the company’s head of business development calls, “a viable substitute for a traditional cycling GPS unit.”
With this upgrade, you can now open up the Ride With GPS app (released last year), select one of your existing routes, hit “download” and a few taps and seconds later you’ll be ready to ride. “Offline Maps allows riders to take unfamiliar routes,” says Prentice, “knowing the map will be available if they lose service.”
“The Ride with GPS app is now a viable substitute for a traditional cycling GPS unit.”
— Kevin Prentice
If you’re worried about battery life (and you don’t have one of those nifty, dynamo-powered USB ports on your bike), Prentice recommends switching to Airplane Mode on Android phones and turning off cellular data on iPhones.
I’m a big fan of Ride With GPS, partly because they’re a home-grown success story, and partly because their app and website are very well thought-out and easy to use. Unlike Strava, their emphasis is not on performance and KOMs, but on exploring new routes and sharing them with others.
Here’s a screenshot of the app:
Since we last profiled them in 2012, their user base has grown to nearly 500,000 users around the globe, a 250 percent increase in just over two years. The company has five full-time staffers and plans to add 4-5 more by the end of this year.
Stay tuned for another big announcement from the company in the next few weeks. We can’t wait to share their latest project that will help people share rides and routes in exciting new ways!
Download the app and learn more about the offline maps feature at RideWithGPS.com.