A Open Source Google Maps Alternative? OsmAnd+ and Pinpoi Explored


I have been trying to move away from google maps. I will still use it if I need to find an address spontaneously. I have found these two apps to be helpful.

recommended applications

These were the following solutions I found


OsmAnd+ is great for map and gps navigation. However, it has issues searching up US mailing addresses. The navigation can get me to a street, but not the exact building. I later learned that gps coordinates can get me to the exact building.


PinPoi is a app that can convert a street or mailing address to gps coordinates I could transfer into open street maps. The app is easier when copying the gps coordinates to OsmAnd+

alternatives I considered

If you are interested in the process of how I stumbled into the solutions or other things I found along the way, join me as we hop into the rabbit hole of geocoding

gps coordinate converter

Before finding PinPoi, I found that this website can convert a street address to gps coordinates.

The pain is that the website doesn’t translate nicely to a webapp nor does it cache a past addresses. The biggest deal breaker is that I need to either find the tab or open a new tab with the brave shortcut.

looking for an google maps alternative

I thought it was strange I couldn’t find a app that does the same thing as the website or a better google maps alternative. I decided to browse the open street map wiki to see if it had already been done or if there was a better open source alternative. I started by trying out the open street map wiki specifically with the android page.
Which pointed me to the app comparison page
I decided to try installing some of the free and open source suggestions, but I found the experience was the same as OsmAnd+.

After trying the open source alternatives, I browsed the OsmAnd+ Github to see if this was a reported issue. It indeed had been reported

However, it seemed there were more important issues to resolve. I considered forking OsmAnd+ to localize US addresses, but decided not as I had little time or experience to learn the project.

making my own geocoding application

After realizing I had little experience developing on an existing project, I decided to narrow my scope and try developing a simple postal address to gps coordinates application. I started by searching android app convert mailing address to gpssince I did not know what tools I needed. During that search I found some helpful resources.

I couldn’t remember which page I found first, but I knew that I needed to search geocoding (the process of converting a postal address to gps coordinates)

I decided to search for any existing applications that did geocoding, but I instead found libraries and wrappers

I was more comfortable working with python than java/kotlin. I was thinking of developing the application in python and finding a library that would allow me to run my python code in on android.

the following stack overflow suggested using VOC and briefcase. I put the project on hold as my laptop was out for repairs, and I was busy. By the time my laptop was repaired, I had already found PinPoi.

Perhaps i could make this a future project if I have free time or someone with more developer experience can take the things I learned to either fix OsmAnd+ or develop a simple offline geocoding app as a devember project.


It is… sorta.

I played around with Navigation apps after I got my first Android phone a couple years ago and naturally OSMAnd was the first one to be tried, but I had a couple issues with it. Mind you I don’t know if these are still true (it’s been ~3 years since):

  • First of all, it needs map data upfront. If you don’t know where you might end up and don’t have a map downloaded beforehand, you’re boned or need a lot of time and data to download the maps.
  • Second, aforementioned maps need a lot of space on the device since they are all bitmaps (well PNGs but you get the point)
  • Third, there is a way to download tiles as you go, but the issue is/was with that, that the address search just doesn’t work with it. You could look at the map and scroll around and the tiles would load, but searching for a specific address was just impossible.

So I ended up looking for alternatives. I was specifically looking for alternatives that (other then the obvious navigation itself) could a) use Vector tiles (i.e. like the ones on Google Maps, not rasterised), and b) that would not require a preemptive download of map data. A bonus would be Traffic data, but that wasn’t a strict requirement.

One of the first ones I found was Skobbler/Scout, but at the time it was already apparently abandoned and looking at the Playstore listing now, that seems to still be the case. Apparently they got acquired a while ago and nothing has come of it since then.

But anyway, unfortunately I have yet to find a completely open source app for this, I did however find the closed source App MagicEarth. Back when I first used it, it still had a couple analytics components, but looking at the Exodus Privacy report this has not been the case for a long time now.
It fills both the mentioned requirements, the map can be configured on the go (which is one reason why I wanted Vector tiles, because that is just not possible on pre-rendered/rasterised tiles), and it is fairly light on the data. As a bonus it does actually come with traffic info + radar warning, speed limit display and some other things useful when you’re driving.
For a comparison: For the past 2 weeks I’ve been driving to another city for a job, I had no map data preloaded for it, and including downloading the map data & traffic info & actual navigation, I ended up with 26.23 MB data used. That is… fairly good IMO.
Now, I would like something open source, but sometimes you gotta take a hit on one end to get something on the other end.

The traffic data I found to be pretty good as well. I’m not sure if/how they integrate with public data for this kind of stuff, but the company making the app is also working with automakers for their onboard navigation from what I can tell, which is probably also contributing to a stream of traffic data coming in.

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Neat I’ll give it a look. I updated the title to include Open Source Alternative.

This isn’t as big of a issue for me. I downloaded the map data for my homestate. Most of my commuting is within a state.

However, this search and my recent roadtrip made me consider buying a dedicated GPS if I need to make frequent roadtrips. The other nice thing is the directions won’t interrupt my music as seen here