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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.

47 replies on “What is happening with #ViewRanger now that they have been bought by OutdoorActive.”

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.

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.

PilgrimChris writes that he has lifetime OS maps – so do I – or I did until today – been switched off! No longer any acccess to the lifetime subscription, only purchased tiles.
This is very bad….

Chris – very good post, thanks. I think that your summary captures most of the disappointments and concerns that I see VR users are expressing.

VR wasn’t broken, so why this attempt to “fix” it? I can only think that the VR people were offered more money by OA than they could sensibly refuse for their product, but have grossly underestimated brand loyalty. Any assumption that VR users will automatically transfer their loyalty to OA is, if Google Play reviews are to be believed, misplaced.

I’ve tried to get clearer information from VR about how all of this will work but get obfuscatory replies along the lines of their “we’re not disappearing, just not developing any more” message – whatever THAT means!

It’s their good fortune that OS have, right at this moment, seemingly dropped the ball with their latest update and poor customer service (if reports are to be believed) otherwise I think that many of us VR fans would have switched allegiance by now – and still might.

I’m very sad about what has happened to VR and must admit to a feelings of betrayal.

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.

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~~

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.

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.

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”.

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

Hi,

Like you, I have stuck with VR, unfortunately, my yearly OS subscription expired a couple of days ago, and so I have been “forced” to move over to OA. I have a month’s free trial and I will see how it goes in that time

Thanks for your thoughts

Hi Degs.
VR is still fully functional without any of the issues that have blighted some users who have linked their VR account to OA (duplicate tracks, increased battery usage, slower performance, sync issues etc.)
VR and OA have both stated that the VR app is not being retired and linking to OA is not compulsory.
Whilst there will be no further development of the VR app it is being maintained. The latest Android app update was a storage issue update in line with the latest Android OS update. Another update to the VR app is due in October and will involve having to download your purchased maps and tiles again.
Currently the VR app is fully functional and I use it weekly.
It’s always good practice to export your tracks and routes to gpx files stored elsewhere – mine are exported to me Google Drive.

Hi Chris and all. Great post. A big fan of VR here in Ireland. Through Viewranger, I purchased the whole of the 26-county Republic Ordnance Survey tiles, for 6 years now, using them on the Viewranger app on the phone up on the mountains, on cycle lanes, etc. A fantastic app. I don’t recall ever paying a subscription fee (to anyone), just signed up and purchased tiles (from what I remember anyways). I’ve checked my bank records (can this be so? I am on a premium lifetime subscription for 1000 years, madness I know! until the year 3018 – guess it’s a thing VR do for lifetime subscriptions!).

Like you, Chris, I will not be clicking on any OA spiel to sign up with them, or upgrading/moving over to this buyout from OA, UNLESS my purchase of tiles is honoured, my tracks created are intact (I’ve downloaded them to gpx files, just to be safe) and I get as good a product as I’m currently using. I paid, was it €140-150?, for the LIFETIME use of the OS Ireland tiles (this lifetime anyways). To me, I have always expected that to be that. I could have just kept purchasing hard copy paper maps, but invested in VR instead.

Yeah, agreed Chris, not enough info on what happens afterwards, but I would be seriously disappointed if I lose access to the said purchased OS tiles. ‘A special gift’ for all current VR tile owners/account holders from OA? Complete marketing toddle, nothing can replace what I have purchased. Do not take this away, OA!

Buddies, beacons, etc…Don’t dress it up, OA, ‘taking the best of VR…’ I just want live access to where I am, and where I gotta go, on the mountain/trail…

Question: You did great research on what happens next to VR. As am not moving across to OA unless forced to, can the app still work as normal, ie, with live positioning/tracking of location up on the mountain using purchased tiles, ability to create new tracks, etc? You and everyone else prob in the same boat here I guess, i.e., we don’t know..Correct me if I’m wrong, or not making sense….

Thank you for a very useful article.

I’ve used Viewranger for 3 years with a standard subscription, with the OS 25k maps for my local area (c. 50M radius) downloaded to a phone for walking (including recording routes), plus 250k and 50k on a tablet which I use fully offline as a car GPS. I opted for Viewranger after testing several packages including OS and Anquet. I’ve now downloaded my local area at 25k in OA (+ Mull for a walking holiday) and will give them a thorough test over the next month. (Unfortunately, saved Viewranger OS maps aren’t recognised by OA). If OA works as well offline I will switch to the annual subscription for walking, but keep using the Viewranger maps in the car for the time being (I’m guessing that if the device isn’t connected to the internet, there is nothing to tell the maps to switch off).

Like others I’ve never used Buddy Beacon, Skyline etc. and don’t want ‘bells and whistles’, just a reliable GPS map package that doesn’t rely on an internet connection or crash the phone.

At least there is some continuity, unlike with Tracklogs (my preferred PC route planning package) which simply disappeared.

Hi Stan – I for one will be interested to hear back from you after your trial of VR under OA ownership.
Cards on the table – I was so disappointed in the ‘new’ VR* that I’ve moved to OS Maps, although my experience there is pretty poor too so far (apparently, the bugs, crashes and glitches in the current Android version will be fixed in an update later in June ’21). Even when fixed it will not be a direct replacement for VR, but as long as it is stable on the hills, that’s all I ask. Currently, routes disappear, it freezes, loses data etc.
*I was duped in to linking my VR and OA accounts when the change of ownership occurred but others have said that avoiding this linking means that their VR is working perfectly well as it did before.

Hi Robert,

On the ground I haven’t found a lot of difference, but I tend only to use VR/OA as a GPS map and occasionally to record routes. Broadly speaking I’m satisfied with OA, except that it doesn’t seem to have a facility to make maps download to my SD card rather than main phone memory.

On Mull all my downloaded VR Landranger and Explorer mapping disappeared or became inaccessible, so I had to switch to OA. There’s also no facility in VR to download any more maps. The OS road maps can still be used. The version on my car tablet (I have the full Landranger UK series downloaded) still works, possibly because there is no internet connection to stop it.

Have you or anyone else had this problem?

Stan

Thanks Stan. To get new maps, you HAVE to have your VR and OA accounts linked and will be using OA’s version of VR from that point on (VR are not allowed to sell anything now). VR can still be used unlinked to OA (NB: once linked it is irreversible) and existing maps in your VR account should still be available although no new ones can be bought via VR, only via OA as I say.
To his credit, one of the original developers of VR has stepped up and answered questions/addressed concerns about VR’s future in TGO magazine. Here’s a link to that article:
https://www.tgomagazine.co.uk/news/viewranger-to-outdooractive-navigating-the-transition/

Agree with most of what has been said above. For me the killer deficiency is the automatic snapping to footpaths in OA. I have used the flexibility of VR to plot off-path routes and use my own tracks to create such routes, both on OS 1:25k and French IGN equivalents. VR worked for explorers as well as well as way-mark followers, OA doesn’t, (and nor does OS App which also snaps to principle paths). Why would you alienate this group, who are presumably a significant market segment worldwide. There is a great business opportunity for someone to duplicate the functionality of VR and dump the bells and whistles which few of us seem to want or need. Memory Map doesn’t come close in useability, though it is snap-free. Please someone take up the challenge and deliver us from OA.

Thanks for that Philip, yup found the magnet icon on OA. I have just had a very useful email conversation with one of VR’s founders and subsequently plunged into OA. I am now a convert, route planning a breeze and you can combine free roaming and snap to footpaths to speed up planning. Yes it is more expensive but if, like me, you also walk in Europe it actually works out no more expensive because of the included subs to ING etc. The indexing and listing options make keeping tabs on your routes really easy. The interface is less instantly intuitive but a few hours playing has made it feel much more responsive and friendly. So far limited walks in New Forest have not suffered GPS drop out but we shall see what happens in more remote areas. I think OA communication has been terrible and the huge negativity out there is a product of this but the reality is actually closer to OA’s claims, this is a very versatile and full featured app but it does need time invested to re-learn how to do stuff.

Hi David. I’m really pleased that you’re happy with OA and a lot of the bugs inconsistencies with the app have been addressed.
A lot of the negativity (mine included) was (is) indeed surrounding the poor communication from OA, but not only because of that. Much stems from the fact that OA released a product not fit for the purpose of a lot of VR users whilst targeting those same users.
It’s great that Craig Wareham is responding to emails, yet it’s a shame that he has been ‘forced’ into a conciliatory role simply because OA themselves won’t easily engage with their customers or potential customers.
When paying for a service good customer service relations are paramount.
Hopefully OA will not only have resolved the issues that continue to plague their service, but also put in place a customer service department.

I emailed VR support today after seeing a tweet by Chris about the wonderful Share your adventure web page closing down. I had heard that VR had been bought out but gave it no more thought than that.

I was concerned after I realised that VR is my most used mapping app and that I had accumulated a fair amount of “tiles” over the years I had been using VR. I use it now for looking up areas and on my bike rides to check my position from time to time and its handy that the maps are on my device when signal is poor.

I had a standard reply about linking to the new app etc and that any credits would be taken in to consideration when offering a new subscription. They did add at the bottom of the email:

“You can continue using ViewRanger if you prefer, it is not closing. We are only doing essential updates for operating system changes now, but you are welcome to continue using it with a free account or any purchased maps.

If it is closed in the future, then there would be a further announcement with plenty of notice and options.”

How long the VR app will remain is uncertain, but for now at least I can continue using it as before.

I should say that it was good that someone replied quite quickly on a Sunday afternoon to a random email.

Hope this helps.

Adrian thanks for sharing dude.
The information at the bottom of the email reply you received is encouraging…

Tangentially related to this thread, I have been looking for a replacement for my VR app. I initially went for OS Maps but it is very buggy for Android users currently. I’ve been in a discussion with OS who now promise a “new and improved OS Maps web platform! With exciting updates and new features”. It’s a bit fussy about what browser you use and didn’t like my Opera one. Subscribers are getting an early peek; release date is first half of July ’21. Here’s a link:

https://osmaps.com/new-os-maps-web?utm_campaign=2957690_OS%20Maps.com%20migration%202&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Ordnance%20Survey%20Leisure%20Ltd&dm_i=2I1H,1RE62,9GJUVK,61T94,1

In other news, I have got a premium subscription now to the Memory Map app. Function-wise it’s no VR or even a (properly working) OS Maps, but it’s stable and reliable in the hills if a little quirky. There’s a great WordPress blog on using though – far superior to MM’s own guides IMO.

The OS Maps browser is good – in my opinion better than OA for route planning, the only other one I use now – but the OS Maps phone app is rubbish. I only keep that on my phone because I have downloaded digital versions of paper maps that I bought last year.

I used Stuart’s guide to get me started with the app! I have to agree that it is a brilliant resource and a far better guide than Memory Map’s own.

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