Before the days of GPS and Google Earth, cartography was both an art and a science revered by everyone up to the highest ranks of society. The elite would adorn their homes with finely drawn maps handcrafted by the most talented of artists. Explorers would create maps on the fly, creating routes to the new world. Traders would pass down maps of the most important routes to economic prosperity to the next generations. Cartography was a respected profession.
With the advent of digital technologies, however, most of the artistry has been lost. Map making has become basic, and the use of maps is strictly utilitarian. The only people who adorn their homes with maps are either art fans or map fans. I’m one of those map and art fans. When I saw The Cartographer app from A Tasty Pixel, I was super excited.
The Cartographer is an iPhone app (no Android version yet, to my major disappointment) that uses today’s technology, combines it with old world cartographic artistry, and produces a functional work of art that you can carry in your pocket. Using Google Maps’ My Maps feature, you can create custom maps on the web, import them into The Cartographer app, and have a delicately drawn piece of functional art with you at all times. You can even download the maps to your smartphone for offline use.
Even more useful, you can create and edit maps in the field using the application’s interface. Search, add placemarks, create routes, and bulk-download your maps. You can even create placemarks on offline maps, then upload them to My Maps when you’re back online.
Sure, The Cartographer is pretty much eye candy, but it’s eye candy with a purpose. And at $3.99, it’s worth giving a shot.