For this installment of Gaia GPS vs. the world, I want to compare Phil Endecott’s app, Topo Maps, against both Gaia GPS, and against our own simple topo app, Offline Topo Maps (OTM).
While Topo Maps once reigned as a great app, I don’t think it’s worth buying in its current state, and this post will lay out why in a fairly straightforward fashion. As always with these posts, I encourage anyone to try out our apps vs. Topo Maps, and write to us for a refund if you prefer Topo Maps, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without getting into the features, Gaia GPS does the core functionality well, while Topo Maps struggles:
Map UI – Gaia’s map is smooth and touchy-feely, while Topo Maps doesn’t have predictable map interaction. When you flick, the map sometimes doesn’t move, and sometimes it coasts oddly.
Clunky Downloads – With Gaia GPS, you can queue up downloads and forget about it. With Topo Maps, you have to wait to download each map, one by one, blocking using the app otherwise.
My basic argument here is if you want a simple topo app that does these things well, then buy our app Offline Topo Maps. If you want an app that does all of this, plus lets you record tracks, sync data between devices, and share links, then you can upgrade to Gaia GPS too.
I think it’s worth pointing out that the development of Topo Maps has stalled. What you see is what you get, and the app hasn’t been updated in years, except to fix it when it breaks on a new operating system.
Gaia and OTM, in contrast, are updated continuously, both to accommodate new devices and operating systems, and to take advantage of state of the art mapping techniques and new features we develop.
More and Better Maps
It also goes without saying that the maps you get in Gaia GPS are vastly superior to the maps you get in Topo Maps, based on years of work and listening to users. Gaia GPS includes the USGS topos you get in Topo Maps, plus USFS topos, plus international topos we license, and tons of specialized map sources. See for yourself on our maps page.
Topo Maps is a bit of zombie app, that still sells largely on the strength of its name, search positioning, and past reputation. Gaia GPS and Offline Topo Maps have come to dominate Topo Maps both in terms of sales, functionality, usability, maps, and everything else.
I’m sure there are a few die-hard Topo Map fans out there that have used it for years and are familiar with quad-based topo maps, or love the distance rings feature in Topo Maps, but I just can’t say the nice things about Topo Maps that I can about other competitors.
Just buy Gaia GPS.