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Mapster = Maps + Multimedia

Mapster combines features of our earlier mapping apps with some new and exciting ways to add media to maps. Add photo-overlays, floating images and icons, panoramic photographs and sound files (songs). View (and listen) to your data in new and unique ways. Choose between map and augmented/virtual reality (A/VR) viewers. View metadata with embedded text, pictures, video, and audio files. Built-in text to speech synthesizer tells you the range and heading to an object or reads its description. Import/export maps and media from your computer using iTunes File Sharing, from email, or network links. Capture maps/overlays with screenshots. Use when there is no WiFi service. Display rich KML content including points, lines, polygons, photo and ground overlays. View dynamic data downloaded from network links. Measure distances and areas. Search for places using a built-in gazetteer. Find specific objects on your map. And more...

Quick Links

Here are some links to get you started.

These links show a sequence of screenshots on each topic. (Long press gesture takes you back to this page.)

Use of the search bar and saving a KML ground overlay.
How to add point, line, and polygon placemarks to a map. Save and load a file. Measure distance and area.
Shows you the steps to add a panoramic photo to a map.
How to add songs to a map.
Load a network link.

Here are some KML files to get you started. Copy and paste the following links into the network link URL (tap "i" to reveal). Turn on link update switch and tap "Done" to load file.

Points of interest in Rome, Italy
Photos and videos in Cape Ann, Massachusetts.
More photos from Cape Ann.
Dogtown Historic Area.
Dogtown Homes (Augmented/Virtual Reality).
Panoramic image example.


There are four buttons on the bottom control bar:
  • FILE commands that load, store, delete, and export KML files with associated media including movies
  • OBJECT commands that let you add, delete, find, and view geo-spatial objects that have been loaded into the device
  • VIEW commands to control how you see these objects
  • LAYER commands that manage object layers

There is also an information field in the bottom right corner that displays latitude, longitude, elevation, and other information, and a settings button "i" that reveals a settings view.


When you tap FILE the top control bar has the following buttons:

LOAD - Loads a file KML or KMZ file stored on your iPad in the documents directory into the current map layer.

SAVE - Saves the contents of the current map layer in three ways. First, the data are saved to a file "YYYYMMDD_hhmmss.kml" automatically generated from the current date/time. Second, a copy is saved in the file specified in the "New File Name" field in the add/edit menu. Third, the KML data are copied into the pasteboard (text only).

TRASH CAN - Deletes a KML or KMZ file from the documents directory.

ACTION (EXPORT) - Emails a file and any associated media files. Note this does not include iTunes songs, which can only be managed within the device.


When you tap OBJECT the top control bar has the following buttons:

ADD (+) - Adds a geo-object to the current map layer. When you tap "+" a secondary control bar slides into view. The right button specifies the type of object. Touch the map screen to specify the location of the object you wish to add. (N.B. If the desired location of the object is outside the current map area, go to the VIEW menu, tap "Roam", and move to where you want to be. Then tap "Select" and "OBJECT" to return to the object view.)

There are seven object types currently defined:

  1. Point - Rendered as a simple dot. You can add a description and specify the color of the dot.
  2. Line - One or more connected line segments (also called a line string). You can add a description and specify the color of the line.
  3. Polygon - Simple polygon without holes. You can add a description and specify the color of the polygon, which is rendered partially transparanet.
  4. Photo-overlay - A photo taken at a particular location that has a size and an orientation. The slider controls the "near" attribute, which effectively defines the size of the photo in the device's augmented/virtual reality (A/VR) viewing mode. Adjust the near after you have specified the photo location. When you tap "OK" a photograph is taken automatically after a 5 second delay. The direction you are facing when you take the picture is the orientation of the photo-overlay. The appearance of a photo-overlay depends on your orientation w.r.t. the photo, and your range.
  5. Iso-photo - This is like a photo-overlay except it appears the same from any direction in the A/VR view. The slider controls the "near" attribute, which effectively defines the size of the photo. When you tap "OK" your are prompted to pick an item from the device/s camera roll (photo library). Move the slider to set the icon's desired physical size as this determines its appearance as a function of range.
  6. Panoramic photograph - When you tap "OK" your are prompted to pick an item from the device/s camera roll (photo library). A 360 degree view is generated that is centered at the specified location. The slider controls the azimuth of the panorama.
  7. Sound - This option lets you place sounds and songs on maps. The sound plays when you are within the trigger radius of the object that is specified with the slider, which you must adjust for each object for it to appear on the display.

(N.B. If you wish to change an object after its been added, go to the VIEW menu, tap "Select" and touch the object. Then tap "OBJECT" to return to the object view to make the changes you wish.)

TRASH CAN - Deletes an object from the current map layer.

FIND - Finds an object in the current map layer.

META - Shows the description field of an object. If the description contains HTML content (including photos and videos) it is rendered in the metadata view.


When you tap VIEW the top control bar has the following buttons:

STANDARD/SATELLITE/TERRAIN/HYBRID - Changes the map background.

MAP/AR - Switches bewteen a conventional map view and a composite map and A/VR view. In this mode the map rotates so it faces your look direction. As you tilt the device up the map disappears to reveal the A/VR view. When the GPS is on, the view is through the camera (AR view). Nearby objects float in space in their approximate location. When the GPS if off, objects are rendered over a simple blue-green sky-ground background (VR view). N.B. If object appear above/below where they should be turn the GPS on/off to recompute the A/VR view.

ROAM/SELECT - Alternately controls whether touch gestures move the map or select a map object. If you have selected a point it shows the distance between the current location (your GPS location or center of the screen) and the point. If you have selected a line string, it shows its total length; if you have selected a polygon, it shows its area.

GPS/OFF - When the GPS is on the map displayed is re-centered at the current GPS location at each GPS update; when it is off, you can move to any location. Either way the information field at the lower right corner of the map view shows the latitude, longitude, and elevation at the center of the screen. The elevation is computed from global elevation data which is automatically downloaded from a webserver over the current area. Each time you toggle of the GPS button it recomputes the map area and updates thr elevations.

Mapster also contains a built-in gazetteer with 86,000 cities and towns from around the world. You can use the search bar to find a place by name, or simply enter its latitude and longitude (comma delimited).


LAYER 1/LAYER 2/LAYER 3/LAYER 4 - Changes current map layer. Only the current layer is displayed in A/VR view.

EDIT - Edits an existing point, line, or polygonal object. Tapping EDIT reveals a secondary menu, which is described below.

SHOW/HIDE - Use to turn on/off display of map layers. The slider controls the transparency of the current map layer.

CAPTURE - Ground overlays are generated for the current map view and may be used a map backgrounds when your are off-line. The data are saved automatically in NEW FILE NAME. Sometimes it is necessary to zoom in/out and scroll around the area of interest before creating a ground overlay in order for the Google Map server to fill in the necessary data for our renderer.

CLEAR - Erases the current map layer.


DISPLAY NAMES - "On" displays the name of the object (points, lines, and polygons) on the map.

USE GOOGLE PINS - "On" uses pins or placemark icons from the designated URL, which can either be at a network URL or be stored locally in the app's documents directory along with the KML file. "Off" renders placemarks using a simple colored pin (loads faster).

NETWORK LINK URL - Specifies KML data that you wish to load from the network. KML Map supports basic HTTP authentication; i.e.,


The password is not hidden and neither the userID nor the password are encrypted. You can also load KML data from a PHP script.

LINK UPDATE - "On" loads the data specified in the yellow "Network Link URL" text window into the current map data. The data are loaded after tapping "Done", which is revealled when you touch the text window.

AUTO REFRESH - "On" loads the data specified in the yellow "Network Link URL" repeatedly. The rate is controlled with the slider. "Off" Loads the data just once.

N.B. You must touch the URL Link text window and tap Done to activate the dynamic link.

SPEAK DESCRIPTION - Text to speech TTS synthesizer speaks the description field of an object when it is selected.

SPEAK RANGE/HEADING - TTS speaks the range and heading to a selected objects every 15 seconds.

Transferring Files

KML files can be transferred to/from the iPad in several ways. The easiest way is to move files between the KML Map documents directory and your computer using iTunes File Sharing. To do this connect your iPad up to a computer and open iTunes. Select your device and tap its "Apps" tab. File Sharing appears at the bottom (you might have to scroll down to see it). Select KML Map to see the contents of the documents directory on the right.

To load a file from an email, hold your finger down on the attachment until a window pops up that asks you to specify how you wish to open the file. KML files can be loaded from web pages using Safari in a similar manner.

To email KML data, save the file, close KML Map, open email, and paste the contents of the pasteboard into the body of the email. Data can also be download from a network URL as mentioned in the previous section.

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