Edit OpenStreetMap data from your iPhone

There are a number of iPhone apps - such as OffMaps - which let you use OpenStreetMap data, and view the maps, on your iPhone and iPod touch, but there hadn't been any apps which let you edit the data, until now.

If you are a member of the OpenStreetMap community, you've probably been out and about at some point and looked at something and thought 'hmm, I wonder if that [insert interesting thing here] is already on the map?'. Well, now if you have an iPhone you can quickly check whether it is or not, and either add it or update its details directly in the OSM database.

The first iPhone editor to launch on Apple's App Store is Little OpenStreetMap Editor (iLOE), an app that allows you to add or edit OSM nodes wherever you are. While its user interface isn't very friendly at the moment, hopefully it will improve in the future and make it easier for users to edit the data around them. In the mean time, it does do the job, so if you're desperate to edit OSM on the move, give it a try.

Cloudmade are also working on an app - the Mapzen POI Collector - which aims to give a quick, user friendly way of editing OSM data. The app tries to make it as simple as possible to contribute to the project from your iPhone, whether you were an OpenStreetMap contributor before or not. The only thing you need to do is sign up for an account at openstreetmap.org, and the app will let you add all sorts of information without having to know anything about the tagging scheme used in the project.

Currently awaiting moderation to get into the App Store, the app should be available very soon, and is definitely worth trying out when it's available. If you're interested, you can sign up to be notified when it's out. I've tried out some pre-release versions which have been shaping up very well, as these screenshots in their tutorials show.

A number of apps are available on other mobile platforms which will let you view OpenStreetMap data, and a few of them also allow editing, including the Java-based TrackMyJourney app which I recently tried out on my Nokia N95 phone.

Update (26 November): Mapzen POI Collector is now available for the iPhone from the App Store

Comments

Thanks for mentioning iLOE (I'm the author). You are right, the first version 0.9 isn't very userfriendly. It was about to get the thing up and running. I just loaded up Version 1.1 which got as main new feature a tag dictionary (really a lot of editing work). Now (after apple review) you have a "Add Tags" button, with which you can add tags very fast by choosing from a pickwheel.
Greetings from munich, johannes

Thanks for the comment Johannes. I've been using the app a little since I posted this, and it has been quite useful to let me make little edits when I'm out of the house.

Suggested tags sounds like a good improvement. For me I think the biggest issues were that the icons at the bottom aren't clear (it's not obvious what they do, or where one icon ends and another starts), and it's difficult to edit items unless you know the name because you can't click the marker on the map.

I would also say that you don't really need to add the created_by tag to each node as that information is in the changeset anyway, and maybe it would be good to group multiple edits into one changeset per editing session instead of creating one for each edit. As you have the name of the place, it might be nice to set the changeset comment to something like 'POIs near [place name]'.

Looking forward to seeing more people using the app :)

Hi Dan,
finally apple reviewed the iLOE update. I built in the most wanted feature: The tag library. Some changes with the buttons, but still more to come. Greetings, Johannes

Citizen mapping is "an evolution of the entire mapping process,". It "is going to be part of the mapping world as we move on to the future." Like orienteering or geocaching, mapping can become a kind of outdoor hobby, with a touch of something more.

Just wondering if there are any problems with people purposely providing false data. Doesn't seem likely, but perhaps teenagers or anyone with access to the data could easily mess with it. Just like with wikipedia, there maybe needs to be some sort of moderation. What do you think?

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