The Cartographer Brings Gorgeous Custom Google Maps to Your iPhone

by Keith Savage · 14 comments

The Cartographer App

I’m new to the fanciful world of iPhones. So when I purchased my first device this past September in anticipation of my series of trips abroad, the first thing I did after taking home the iPhone 4 was ask Michael Tyson what apps were must-haves for travelers. You see, he provided some professorial comments on my post about choosing a world phone back in July, and it turns out he’s the muscle behind an app development shop called A Tasty Pixel. Just a couple of weeks ago they launched their newest app, The Cartographer.

From the press release, The Cartographer is

…a new iPhone travel app which enables users to access and edit their custom Google My Maps on their iPhone. This allows for iPhone-based travel organizing that is more integrated with desktop Internet browsing than ever. Users will be able to use their custom My Maps offline, an essential component for travellers.”

The Cartographer Map

The Cartographer is what you’d get if Amerigo Vespucci and Steve Jobs (somehow) had a beautifully useful baby that was actually an iPhone app. As soon as I started The Cartographer I was struck by the gorgeous aesthetic. Torn and curled parchment forms the backdrop for the Google Maps functionality, and atmospheric scrollwork font, burnished copper plating, and felt bookmarks tie it all together. I can almost hear the parchment rasp and crinkle beneath my finger. The Cartographer lives us to its billing as evocative of a romantic past.

Once I finished ogling the graphic design, I loaded in some of my existing custom Google maps including a macro trip around Scotland and a localized jaunt around Salta, Argentina. I had built both custom maps on my laptop, but I found I could easily update “pinned” places and create new ones. It’s beautiful how these changes are synchronized with your Google account and not stranded in The Cartographer.

As I walked around Salta, I returned again and again to my Cartographer map with the offline map enabled. This didn’t require any connection and I could still benefit from my custom map. Though my trip to Scotland was long over, I could easily visualize its use on those long-haul drives. The ability to leave reminders of encounters or special events on your maps as you go is a nice touch.

Want to know more? Check out this killer promotional video for The Cartographer.

The Cartographer is a worthy addition to the traveler’s app arsenal. It’s beautiful, convenient, and provides a unique feature set. My only complaint – and it is minor – is that it can be difficult to zoom in to maps.

The Cartographer is currently available on the iTunes App Store in the Travel category for $1.99. This is 50% off the standard price and won’t last long. Lucky for you, I have three promotional copies to give away to readers of Traveling Savage. Winning is easy:

  1. First, follow @ATastyPixel on Twitter.
  2. Then post a comment here.

The winners will be chosen at random on Friday, December 17th at 1pm CST. The promotional copies can be redeemed from within iTunes (Note: this does require a U.S. iTunes account, but that can be configured for you wherever you are). Good luck!

Full disclosure: I received a promotional copy of The Cartographer for review.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 17, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Congrats to Ted Nelson, Silver Antigen, and A Vivid Pixel for winning copies of The Cartographer!

SilverAntigenNo Gravatar December 5, 2010 at 12:10 PM

I am truly loving the offline feature. I don’t always have wireless available when I travel with my iPod Touch. Regardless of winning or not, I’m downloading this app and including it among my “References’ tabs.

Thanks for letting the world know about this awesome app.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

That’s great to hear. This app and A Tasty Pixel deserve all the recognition coming to them.

a vivid pixelNo Gravatar December 5, 2010 at 4:17 AM

Nice review! After I was looking at the screenshots of it on the App Store I then went on to the default Mapps application and Cartographer just looks soo much better! Now I’m deciding if I should get it or not because there are soo many more apps on the App Stre that I want.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Yes, the default looks pedestrian in comparison.

AppSlapNo Gravatar December 5, 2010 at 3:19 AM

This is truly a fantastically beautiful app – very tempted to pick it up!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 7, 2010 at 4:59 AM

I love me a beautifully-designed app, and The Cartographer really doesn’t have much competition at that level. Gorgeous.

DavidNo Gravatar December 4, 2010 at 5:36 PM

Love the offline mode, its a lifesaver on my ipod touch when I go out and there’s no wireless connection.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 7, 2010 at 4:58 AM

Exactly – the offline mode is the real clincher from a functionality standpoint.

Ted NelsonNo Gravatar December 4, 2010 at 2:21 PM

This information is good to know as I soon will get a new phone. Thanks.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 7, 2010 at 4:58 AM

Good luck (and get an iPhone) 🙂

Michael TysonNo Gravatar December 3, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Thanks for the review Keith! I’m glad you find it useful for your travels too.

If you find the pinch action a bit awkward for zooming in, you can double tap too. Let me know if that helps or if it was something else you were having difficulty with.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar December 7, 2010 at 4:57 AM

Hey Michael, thanks for creating such a useful app. The double tap does help!

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