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MapSphere is a mapping, geo-tagging and location-aware trip logger. It is a very robust application that allows you to see 2D and 3D satellite imagery of the planet Earth. It has a social approach and it gives you a set of tools to create trips, that show where you have been and for how long.
This application grabs mapping data from a variety of sources, and you can choose the source of your maps from a drop-down menu. There are 4 main sources: OpenStreetMap, Terraserver, Landstat 7 Global Mosaic, and Microsoft Live Search Maps. All those vary in quality and in download speed. In my opinion, the Windows Live maps are the best for simple satellite imagery viewing. They are fast to load and have great details, particularly in the USA and Europe areas. Some of the "data layers" even show 3D representations of terrain and buildings. By default, MapSphere shows three different panes when you are browsing a map. The biggest one is the general view, which you can zoom in and simply look around. To its right, there are two smaller panes that always show a more detailed view and a more general view. I find this very useful for looking at a very detailed area in the main viewer. It is easy to get lost, but the "overview map" helps you to keep your bearings.
MapSphere has a variety of tools that help you create trips and share them with MapSphere users or anyone on the Internet and chat with them in real-time. The sample trip, that you can access in the tutorial, shows the direction the person was moving at all times and photos on the screen that you can see and zoom in.
Since this application supports GPS receivers, photos can be geo-tagged, so they will be placed on the physical location where they were taken automatically. I didn't have a GPS to test most of the GPS-based features, but I think you can even download GPS information to create your trips, which would be an awesome way of sharing your trip info with others.
When I was testing this application, I only saw 50 users connected, and I couldn't talk to any of them from the application. Perhaps the website is a gateway to the application's social offerings.
In short, MapSphere is a great trip-making tool, but I didn't find it intuitive enough for casual satellite map viewing, though it has lots of tutorials and help. I like a lot how this application searches for locations using GeoNames, and all the picture and trip tools that are available, though. I also like that it downloads data for offline browsing. I am sure there are features that I haven't even found while testing this app.
You might want to try this app if you are into geo-location services or mapping applications.
- Good customization options
- A variety of map sources
- 3D and 2D mode
- GPS support
- Trip support
- Photo support
- The social aspect of the program is still not very popular but is worth checking out