What is happening with #ViewRanger now that they have been bought by OutdoorActive.

OutdoorActive and ViewRanger

If you hadn’t heard, ViewRanger, the much respected app (and service) used by millions worldwide as a route plotting, route recording and peerless navigational aid, used by individuals and rescue organizations worldwide, has been purchased by OutdoorActive – “The digital home for experiencing the great outdoors.”

I’m not going to get into why this has happened – I don’t know for sure and I don’t want to get into speculation – this post is simply about what is happening to a much loved, used and respected application. The following is an email response from ViewRanger…

‘Hello.

ViewRanger is now part of Outdooractive and ViewRanger is no longer selling new subscriptions. Any existing VR subscripting will be honoured until it expires in 2021.

Outdooractive works on a subscription basis. When connect your ViewRanger account to Outdooractive, you’ll be given a free period or a voucher based on what you own in ViewRanger. The subscription gives you the whole country, plus numerous other countries, rather than needing to buy separate subscriptions in ViewRanger. The maps are all up to date, updated regularly. And for OS GB, the maps are the high resolution ones, not available in ViewRanger.

Any gifted OA subscription will not automatically renew when it expires. OA charge an annual fee of €30 for Pro or €60 for Pro+ (or in-app £26.99 for PRO and £53.99 for PRO+).

ViewRanger credits do not transfer to Outdooractive, but they are taken account of when they set you up initially and obtain an incentive in OA.

You can continue using ViewRanger, it is not stopping, but we are only doing maintenance on it now, no new development.

Outdooractive bought the company behind ViewRanger, with the aim of combining the two to make the best possible outdoors app and service. Over the last year we’ve been working to add the best features of ViewRanger to Outdooractive (for example Buddy Beacon, Skyline, Wear, Challenges), and that continues, with the aim of making Outdooractive the best app. So we do expect most people will choose to move to Outdooractive over the coming year. But you are welcome to stay using ViewRanger too.’

So, according to ViewRanger (VR), we can continue using the VR app as “it is not stopping“, and, although there will be “no new development” of the app, VR will still be “doing maintenance on it“.

This would also likely mean any existing maps, tiles etc. purchased by a VR user would still be available in the VR app (although this is yet to be confirmed).

Had OutdoorActive’s (OA) own app been fully developed and tested and was truly “combining the two to make the best possible outdoors app and service“, before they tried to ‘sell’ it to us as a better app than VR, then I might not have needed to write this post.

However, having tested the OA app recently, I find it lacking. Not least in the area of reliability in the field. It’s all well and good OA bigging up what it sees as VR’s “best features” (“Buddy Beacon, Skyline, Wear, Challenges“), but I don’t think any of those are VR’s best features – I certainly didn’t use any of them in the 11 years I’ve been using VR.

It’s in the mountains I want reliability of satellite lock, app robustness and reliability, to know where I am on a track I’ve created and am following (even in a ‘whiteout’), to know that if I lost my compass I could rely on VR to get me to safety. Can the current OA do that?

Well maybe it can, I just don’t know. But I KNOW VR can. Trust takes ages to acquire. VR had mine. OA needs to work hard to get it.

For now I’m sticking with VR until it becomes no longer viable for the purposes I use it for. In the meantime I’ll be looking at alternatives should VR truly bite the bullet. At least I can still rely on VR whilst I search for its successor.

24 thoughts on “What is happening with #ViewRanger now that they have been bought by OutdoorActive.

  1. I completely share your ‘views’. I’ve used a number of competitor apps in the field over the years and VR has been the most reliable (which is what counts). I’ve only toyed with VR’s bells and whistles — too busy actually walking and navigating I suppose. Might have to revisit the OS and MM apps again. Thanks for this Chris!

    • You’re welcome 🙂
      I’ll stay with VR until/if it ceases. I’ve got lifetime OS premium maps for the whole of the UK so I have time to find a suitable replacement.

  2. I signed up for ViewRanger and after a month or so received an email about the Outdoor Active takeover, so I took up the offer and since that time have been using both VR and OA. As I signed up to VR with Apple ID it took about a week to transfer my subscription from VR to OA.

    Have either of them let me down? Only VR during a weekend in the Lakes before the transfer to OA, with it constantly stopping tracking my route, so by the end of each day walking I have 15 or so short routes recorded. But I suspect that was user error as I had only just installed the app and signed up for a subscription.

    For me OA is a good app that works and has all the features I want. I also have an OS subscription but as that does not have an Apple Watch app I don’t use it except when viewing maps on my MacBook.

    Then there is the website. Initially I was put off ViewRanger by the website and think the OA website is far better. VR’s website to me is old looking and clunky. To be honest I didn’t know Outdoor Active existed until I received the email about the takeover and transfer of account. But I do think the OS website is better than OA for viewing maps and plotting routes.

    In summary I prefer the OS app but as no watch version don’t use it when walking the fells and use OA. I prefer OA to VR, but maybe as a user of VR for only a month or so didn’t become familiar with the app so for me it was an easy step to take.

  3. I am so disappointed. I only just started using ViewRanger as the free app – living in cambodia to track our tourist trails and also our patrol team patrols. it looked like it would be very good. HOwever.. disappointing to find that it won’t be sticking around likely for the longer term! and that they aren’t continuing to support its development.

  4. one thing i did just notice.. satellite views are not free on Outdoor active – at least in your desktop account.. viewrangers were free – albeit oldish pictures.. that is a downer~~

  5. You are exactly on point – reliability is the main feature that made VR my preferred app for navigation in the mountains. VR has won my trust over and over again. The app, to me, is the equivalent of a trustworthy friend. Changing it for another, just doesn’t feel right.

    • I just received an email from VR that said when my subscription runs out I will still be able to CONTINUE using the free version of VR.That will work for me.Like some of you others I just like/use the basics and it works well.

  6. Just received an email from VR that stated that when my subscription ends I will still be able to continue using the free version of VR.That will work for me.

    • You’re one of the lucky ones then Brian. A lot of users were fans of the in-app full UK OS mapping (25k and 50k) add on that made VR a trusted companion up on the hills.

  7. I have been a just of ViewRanger for over 2 years. I use it a lot for planning routes on both road bike and mountain bike for leading rides with British Cycling groups. ViewRanger doesn’t always automatically follow national Cycle Routes (road biking) or bridleways (mountain biking) automatically, but it is very easy to either move any of the waypoints on the triple, or drag the route itself to change it.
    Today I linked my account with OutdoorActive and tried to create a simple road bike route. The experience was a dreadful step backwards from that of using ViewRanger. It worked ok if I got the waypoint in the correct place first go, but if I changed my mind, the only thing I could do was delete the last waypoint – there is no way of dragging any of the waypoints and it was not possible to drag the route itself into a different road. I haven’t tried following a route on OutdoorActive yet.
    I have purchased a lot of maps through ViewRanger and I am not at all pleased that I will lose the route planning functionality that I have hitherto enjoyed. I absolutely do not agree that the “best features of ViewRanger and OutdoorActive” have been combined. What consultation was there with users? Nobody asked me!

    • You’re points are echoed by many who linked their ViewRanger account with OutdoorActive.
      Which is why I haven’t linked mine. Unfortunately, once linked, you can’t unlink it ☹️.

    • I can only agree with you Valerie. The sale of VR to OA was a bad day for VR users. Unless OA bought it just for market share, their handling of the takeover has been an object lesson in incompetence. I see no signs of hope with the app now and fear it is dying – plenty of friends who were VR users have not renewed their subscriptions and one who did regrets it because the “best of the best” version now on sale is buggy and crashes/hangs mid-walk. VR was beloved for its reliability and that seems to have gone.

      I think I’ll move over to an OS App subscription – it’s not as good as VR was (and is, by all accounts, not great since an update over the new year, but I have faith they’ll fix it – albeit at standard “quango speed”.

  8. Hi, Pilgrim. I have been using VR for 3 years, actively. I put tutos (french speaking) on Youtube, about using VR. As a member of Club Alpin Français, I often teach beginners using topo map and GPS. I can’t teach VR any longer. VR is not perfect, I wrote them about some improvements, but now it’s over.
    Now what ? We must look for competitors, but none is totally good for me : simple in the web browser, simple on androïd for every action, many functions and easy to learn for beginners, … and cheap.
    We need benchmarks, and also organize some sort of a users union to discuss with OutdoorActive, Iphigenie, Openrunner …

    • Hello Jean-Francois, and welcome to the club that none of us wanted to be in: “The VR is now pretty useless club”.
      I can understand that the developers (2 guys from Cambridge, UK I believe) would be tempted to sell their “baby” after 12 years of perfecting it, especially if OutdoorActive(OR) offered a LOT of money. What I don’t understand is why OR then made such a mess of the takeover and altered things in the app that mean no-one wants it anymore. It’s a crazy business decision!
      Like you say, there are no real like-for-like competitors – VR was the best. However, I am looking at the OS app (only good for the UK I’m afraid) and one called Gaia which has had some good reviews. I wish you luck and still hope that someone will fix VR, but honestly that does not seem likely.

      • VR isn’t broken and there don’t seem any immediate plans to retire the app. I’ll continue to use it until then.

        From OutdoorActive…
        ‘What if I don’t want to transfer my data to Outdooractive?

        “There is no obligation to connect your viewranger account to OutdoorActive…”‘

        https://t.co/QkUBTor2Ci

        TopoGPS is a good alternative with a very active developer who listens to feedback.

        • I’m a bit surprised by your latest reply in support of VR under OA’s ownership Chris, although I can believe that you’re also a more expert user of the app than me and maybe use it differently/smarter too. Since OA took it over my own experience has been that it has become buggy (freezing mid-hike – pretty important it doesn’t do this) and consuming battery at a markedly increased rate too.
          So for you to say that VR isn’t broken is technically correct, but I would argue that i can’t use it whilst the issues I’ve noted (I’m not alone in this) persist. It’s also my understanding that to continue my in-app use of OS mapping I would indeed have to link VR to an OA account. In-app OS use is a deal breaker for me. Have I misunderstood this?
          In short, VR is not the excellent app it once was even just a short while ago and I’m hugely frustrated by that.

          • I too am disappointed, as VR has worked flawlessly for me even on some very long walks (in the UK and elsewhere). But I’m going to try sticking with VR and also continue to use the OS app as a back up. I’ve always felt better taking the redundancy approach (within reason) on long walks. While my experience with Memory Map was mixed (and the reason why I switched to VR) I am thinking of giving the MM app another try. But what a shame we are even having this discussion.

          • VR still works flawlessly… if you haven’t connected it to OA.
            I use VR most days and not experienced any issues.

          • Alas, I am among those who linked my VR to OA. Clearly, a mistake as you rightly point out Chris. However, I had the impression at the time that OS mapping updates would not be possible if I did not link the two. Buyer (walker) beware I suppose.

          • Mapping updates are still being honoured as the app is not only being maintained, but is still available to download from Google Play Store (last time I checked) AND map tiles are still available for purchase within the VR app.
            What VR and OA have said is that the VR APP will no longer be updated with new features etc, but the app WILL be maintained in it’s current version.
            Also OA have stated in their FAQ’s that VR users are under no obligation to link accounts.
            Unfortunately none of this was made aware to VR customers/users prior to the takeover and the splash screen in the VR app was (and still is) worded in such a way as to influence a user to link accounts.

          • I don’t support VR under OA ownership Robert.
            Unlike most people I didn’t link my VR account to OA so still have full, unadulterated use of the VR app.
            Nothing within it has changed, I still have all my lifetime maps and I use it as I always have.
            I don’t experience any of the problems your experiencing Robert.
            As OA have stated that whilst VR will no longer be updated it will still be maintained AND you can still purchase map tiles through VR I can’t understand why you think it’s broken.
            People who linked their account to OA have experienced some issues with VR though.
            However, myself and 6 other VR users who HAVEN’T connected have not experienced any problems.

          • Thanks for the quick reply Chris, much appreciated. The nub seems to be whether one linked VR with OA or not. I’m prepared to accept user error in not realising that this was an option at the time of renewal which, for me, happened to coincide with OA’s acquisition of the app. I shall go back to them again and ask for my VR subscription to continue on the basis that they unlink (delink?) it from OA and then I might be able to reverse matters and regain a situation like your own with a satisfactory, no, an excellent app.
            Can you confirm that your subscription allows for updating OS maps without having to link VR and OA please? Thanks.

          • Hi Robert,
            Sorry for the delayed response.
            User error is s difficult term in this instance. VR made it seem like you HAD to link your account to OA. (I nearly fell for it myself!)
            The VR app continues to contain the splash screen prompting to link accounts – I just ignor it.
            Good luck with trying to reverse your own linking of accounts – I’d certainly be interested to hear whether you’re successful or not. Unfortunately I suspect you won’t be.
            As for my lifetime subscriptions – yes they still update automatically. I suspect this is because VR is still a standalone app and is not only being maintained, but also continues to sell map tiles.

          • Hi Chris – this is a partial update and may help you respond to others on this thread too.

            1. I haven’t tried to ‘unlink’ my VR and OA accounts, instead I’ve taken out an OS Maps app sub (£25.99).

            2. I did have an exchange with VR (I believe, but am not 100% sure, that it was one of the developers – or should I say maintainers) and he told me that OA will not allow VR to sell anything now so, no, I couldn’t get OS mapping without a linked OA account. Not sure what you mean about buying ‘map tiles’ in the VR app.

            3. OS Maps has been a mixed blessing – it worked well on the one track I created but when I used a provided .gpx for a challenge walk yesterday the route kept disappearing and only firing the app back up reinstated it, but at the cost of losing the stats. It’s also clunky in the way it swaps files between mobile and desktop but it does work. We reverted to using VR because we were pretty much on waymarked paths all the way, so basic mapping was OK.

            4. Finally, in looking for a VR replacement I also approached AllTrails. Customer service was excellent but the deal breaker for me was that you can’t buy OS maps with them.

            Hope there’s at least something in the above waffle that is helpful! Rob

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