Memory Map: A User’s Guide – Part 7
Updated for Memory Map v6 – July 2019
Working with the Mobile Version
You can find the previous part of this guide here: Part 6: Importing and Exporting Data
Part 7 of this parallel user guide covers the use of MM on a mobile device. This is one of the best ways of experiencing digital Ordnance Survey mapping on the hills, but the approach should be considered carefully before putting your safety in the ‘hands’ of a delicate device, not really intended for this purpose. There is a separate app available for both Android and Apple iOS and these can be downloaded from the links below. You may also want to read two posts I wrote regarding the use of Smartphones in the hills.
Consider ViewRanger Mobile App, as an alternative to MM!
The first thing to make clear is that the mobile version of MM is poor, very poor. It’s poor in comparison to the desktop version, poor in comparison to the old PDA version and very poor in comparison to other mobile digital mapping products. It’s so bad in fact that I recommend not using it. Instead, look at ViewRanger for both iOS and Android.
This is by far and away the best mobile digital mapping software available today, especially if you intend to use OS maps. For only £25 per year you can have access to OS 1.25k scale mapping for the whole of the UK. The maps are stored locally on your mobile device, so there’s no requirement for a mobile signal to use the app. I have been using ViewRanger for about 2 years now and would never, ever consider going back to the MM app.
ViewRanger can read the GPX files saved from MM, so you can import the routes you create in MM and view them in VR. Record your track in VR as you are out walking and save them as GPX files too – these can then be read by MM and displayed on your desktop PC.
If you’re dead set on still using the MM mobile app, then read on. However, bear in mind that this information is now about 4 years old and the mobile app may have moved on somewhat since I last used it.
So far we’ve been desk-bound with MM – tied to our desktop or laptop PC, stuck in the house. But MM also includes a mobile version, which allows us to take both the maps we see on the PC and the routes and tracks we’ve created out into the hills. MM v6 has stopped support for PDA devices (such as the HP iPaq, which run the ancient Windows Mobile PC operating system), so all traces of that have been removed from this guide. I have maintained a copy of that information though, so if you are hell bent on using earlier versions of MM on a supported PDA, then you can go here: Working with the PDA Version.
This guide covers the Android version, I’m assuming the app works the same on the iPhone, but as I don’t have one, I can’t confirm that.
Once you’ve installed the app on your device, one of the first things you’re going to want to do is install some maps on it. The technique for this varies between iOS and Android devices, but this guide is for Android, so you’re going to need to look elsewhere for assistance doing this on iOS.
The first thing to be aware of is a possible 4Gb file size limit on your device, it’s best to ensure any maps you create are smaller than this, just to be safe. The following steps will help you cut a map section.
Firstly, create a folder on your PC to store these ‘mobile maps’, ideally somewhere out of the usual map storage area, so MM doesn’t try and load them into the desktop map list and so there’s no confusion with existing maps, as MM insists on using the same name for all map exports
Next, start MM on the PC and draw a route around the area of map you want to select. Make sure you close the route, by clicking on the first waypoint with the last waypoint in the route. You can see this in more detail in earlier sections of this guide. Right-click the closed route and select Operations > Enclosed Area > Export Map Area. The following dialog box will be shown.
Using the little […] button, browse to the location you created for these ‘mobile maps’, or type it manually into the box. Make sure the size estimate provided by MM is less than 4Gb. If the size is right and once the location is correct, click [OK]. MM will export four files to the map location you set. Note that large map cuts will take a while to export.
I’m going to assume you want multiple map cuts on your mobile device, and this next bit is ‘best practice’ even if you don’t at this time. Because MM uses the same name for all map exports (it uses the name of the map your cutting out from), we now need to rename the files MM just exported. Using Windows Explorer (or whatever file manager you prefer), head over to the folder you created and check for the four files. I’m exporting from OS 1:25K Explorer 2014 maps, so my files look like this:
Rename all four files to something that will identify them appropriately. Use the same name for all four files. To be fair, the MMI and QED files aren’t important on the mobile device, so you can skip them if you like. Also, the full UK MMI and QED files are only about 200Mb, so you could use them instead of the individual ones.
Once you’ve renamed the QCT and QC3 files, we now need to modify the properties of the QCT file, to change the actual map name that MM recognises. We can only do this in the desktop version of MM. This next bit is a pain, so if you’re doing multiple map cuts, leave this until you’ve done them all. Remember that the process above needs to be done in order, for each map cut, or you’ll overwrite previous map cuts with new ones.
Back in the mobile maps folder, pick one of the QCT files and double-click it. This will open the desktop version of MM, with that map in context. We now need to modify the map properties in order to change the name of the map. Click Map > Map Properties > Edit Map Properties, the following dialog box will appear.
The ‘Name‘ field contains the name that MM recognises for this map. Change it to match the filename of the map (which is shown in the box, below the name). Then click the [Allow Calibration] checkbox and click [OK]. You will return to the map view. The files in the map folder will have been updated accordingly. You can now copy these to the mobile device. As the map files can be large I tend to copy to the SD Card storage location, but you can also save in ‘phone’ storage too if you prefer, or if your device doesn’t have an SD Card slot. SD storage needs to be (SD Card\Download\Memory-Map) and local storage needs to be (Internal Storage\Download\Memory-Map) – these are the only two location MM will look for maps. Note that the internal storage location will be created by MM, but the SD Card location will need to be created manually and the folder names are case sensitive, as shown above.
Once the maps have been transferred we can read them in MM.
As with so many thing on the MM Mobile app, this isn’t as easy as you’d expect. First, once you’ve opened the app, select the menu option (will vary based on your device). Select the Maps menu item. The screen on the left of the three below (or one fairly similar) should appear. It shows the maps on your device that correspond to the current location you’re at, or are viewing. Click the [More Maps] button to get more maps. Then click [All Maps on Device] to get a list of all your loaded maps. With a bit of luck your newly loaded maps will appear in this list.
Clicking one of the maps in the list will load it into MM. However, MM won’t jump you to the map you just loaded, so you may end up looking at a blank screen, you will need to scroll around looking for it now, or search for a place on the map (provided you loaded the appropriate MMI file on your device).
Creating a Route
In my opinion, this is only something you’d do on the mobile device, in an emergency, or if you like doing things the difficult way. The easiest way to create routes is on the desktop version of MM (see earlier section) and then copy them across to the mobile version (see below). However, there may be a time you need to create a route, so this is how.
Open the MM menu using the menu button for your device. Click the Mark option and a mark will be dropped in the centre of the screen. You can use the green movement icon to drag the mark to the appropriate start point of your new route and then select the blue context menu icon. From that menu, select Create Route and you will see that the Mark icons have been removed and the flag has changed to a blue dot. Click the screen where you want the next waypoint to appear and continue to do this until you’ve completed the route. This is not very accurate, even with a stylus! When you’re done, click the [Done] button in the bottom left corner.
Loading a Route
The better way to get a route onto the mobile device, is to import it or transfer it from the PC version. MM mobile app wants to see all routes and waypoint collections as GPX files, so we need to make sure that’s how we export them from the desktop version. This is easier in MM v6 because the default file export format is GPX, rather than MMO as it is for v5.
Whereas the maps can be stored in the phones memory storage, or the SD Card storage, the overlay files can only be stored on the phone. All GPX files you want to read into MM mobile app need to be saved into (Internal Storage\Download\Memory-Map). Once they have been copied, MM will do nothing with them until they are loaded into the app manually.
In the map view of the mobile app, click the menu button for your device. From the resulting pop up menu, select the Overlays option. A screen will appear, headed Mark / Route / Track and if you’ve previously loaded Routes or Marks, then there may be entries in these areas. In order to load more data we need to click the menu button again (for your device) and from the resulting menu box that appears, select Load Saved Data. If you’ve copied the GPX files to right place, then you will be presented with a list of the GPX files that in that area. This will include all GPX files, irrespective of what type of data they contain. In the example below I have three routes, one of which is ‘Joining the Seas’ (a new take on the Coast to Coast).
When I click the file I want to import, MM loads the data into the mobile app. The screen below left will appear. In the case of this GPX file, it had a route for each day of the walk, and these are all displayed individually in the Route list. I can click on any of these items and a new screen appears, showing the properties of that route. Here I can do a couple of things, including View the route, which jumps the screen to that route, displayed on the map screen. I can also modify the colour of the route shown on the screen, or I can delete it.
Loading Waypoints is very much the same, but you end up with a list of waypoints rather than routes. Tracks are typically recorded by the mobile device, rather than loaded from a GPX file, but they can also be loaded if you’re sharing tracklogs with other people for example.
Recording a Track
Now that we have maps on our device and we have a route selected and loaded, we can start our walk. There are two approaches I use when walking with my mobile device
The first one is to only use MM to give me my location when I need assistance. If I come to a junction of paths and need to decide which way to go, out comes my phone and I open MM, it shows my position on the map and the correct fork I selected for this route. This approach uses very little battery power, as I’m only switching the screen on occasionally and the GPS is on rarely. I always walk with a paper map, so I’ll use that most of the time.
The second approach is to use MM to record the route you’re walking and make a tracklog of the walk. This can be imported into the desktop version of MM once you get home and analysed as you desire. This approach has the dual effect of always showing you where you are on the route. The screen doesn’t need to be on all the time, but the GPS does. Battery life is impacted, so you need to be aware of how best to manage this. The posts I indicated at the top of the page will help with this. I’m going to describe how to record a track here.
The first thing I need to do is introduce you to a hidden option screen, called the Nav Data screen. You can’t get to this screen through the menu system and even after you’ve used the app it’s existence may not be obvious. I’ll cover this in more detail below, but for now touch the map screen, anywhere, and you will see some new icons appear. In the bottom right corner you get a pair of zoom icons and in the top middle you get a pull tag. Drag this tag downwards. It’s a bit fiddly and will take some getting used to, but it’s similar in approach to the Android notification drag-down.
As you drag it down, you reveal a set of information panels and, more importantly in this case, a [Start Logging] button. Click this button and it changes to a [Stop Logging] button and at the same time it begins to record our track. You can disappear the Nav Data screen once you’re finished with it (either drag, or click the tab) and MM will continue to record progress. When you finish the walk, click the tab again and the Nav Data screen will reappear, to it’s previous position, and stop the recording. The resulting track will be saved in the Overlays area we discussed above.
One of the few available settings options is worth noting when recording a track. If you switch out of MM on the mobile device you will stop recording your track. This is a battery safety feature that prevents you from leaving the GPS recording running even when you’ve finished with MM. But in this case, we probably want to be able to drop out of MM and continue to record the track in the background. To do this we need to call up the main menu using our device’s menu button and select Settings, from the next menu we select GPS Settings and in the resulting screen there will be an option to ‘Record Track while app is backgrounded‘ – by default this is unchecked. Check this to record a track even once you’ve dropped out of MM. Just remember to stop recording when you finish.
Customising the Nav Data screen
The Nav Data screen we used above to start our track recording is customisable. The example you can see above is the layout I prefer, but you can set it up pretty much any way you like. The default screen looks something like the one below on the left. If you long click any of the panes in the screen a context menu appears. Using this we can add or remove columns and rows, we can change what data is being shown in each of the panes and then we can save that layout in case we want to use multiple layouts for different tasks.
In the screens above I have long-clicked one of the panes in the Nav Data screen and then selected the Change Data option in the context menu. This produces blue icons on each of the panes, allowing me to change what data type appears in that particular pane. As the icon suggests, when you click it another context menu appears. This has about 20-30 different data types to select from (see below). Click on each pane you want to change and select the appropriate data type. When you’re finished, long-click any of the panes again and the blue icons disappear.
I prefer fewer, smaller panes, in four columns, so I’ve added two columns and removed a number of panes to produce what you see below. Some trial and error will be needed to get the hang of this and to get the right data types for your own needs.
Once you’re happy with the position of the Nav Data screen you just need to tap the tab to make it disappear, and when you tap the tab again, it returns to the position you left it. You can share Nav Data screen layouts with friends, even those using the iOS version of the app. The saved files are given a DVTF file extension and stored in the same place as Routes and Tracks, they are inter-changeable between the iOS and Android versions of the app.
Some of the data panes will be blank until you decide to ‘Follow a Route‘ – for example the ETA at End and Dist to End panes use your current position and map it against an active route in order to provide the appropriate information. In order to activate a route you need to click any waypoint in the route; this will bring up the waypoint context menu we saw earlier (see left). Click the blue icon to bring up a new menu and from that, select ‘Follow Route‘. Route related data points will now become active in their respective panes.
Cloud sync is a fairly new feature of MM and it basically allows you to transfer routes and other MM data from the PC version to the mobile version, and back again. It seems to work reasonably well, albeit in a rather restricted way for me (i.e. not in the way advertised in the MM Help pages). I have started to use it as an easy way to transfer a single route to the mobile device, but that’s about it. Memory Map suggest it’s a way to backup all your Routes, Tracks and Waypoints from your mobile device, but as they want to charge you for anything more than 1Mb of stored data, or more than 10 uses per month, then you may find better way to achieve this. The free version lets you sync up to 1Mb of data up to 10 times per month.
From the PC version of MM, right-click any Route or Waypoint (doesn’t seem to work for Tracks) you’ve created, in the map screen and select ‘Sync to Cloud‘ from the context menu. You can also right-click any category in the Overlay Objects and send that whole category to your cloud storage area on the MM servers (subject to the limitations mentioned above).
Once uploaded, you can then go into the mobile version of MM and pull down that data into your mobile device, provided you have a suitable signal or Wi-Fi connection of course.
You can view the files in your cloud storage using this URL: https://w2.memory-map.com/cgi-bin/syncweb.cgi – you will need to login to your MM account area first of course.