Phone Overlays

[ Update: This functionality seems to have stopped working on Symbian phones (which are dying out now anyway) and it is not available in the newer versions of Google Maps for Android (any version from version 7 onwards). This seems rather tragic to me since I found the facility so useful. Google did say, when they removed the feature, they would add it again but who knows when. My solution was to reinstall a renamed version of the old Google Maps, where "My Maps" still works. Some instructions here: YMMV. ]

This is a brief tutorial on how to view a custom map, set up in Google Maps on your computer, on your mobile phone using the Google Maps application. This is really very easy, but I thought a step by step guide might be useful for some people.

Essentially, there are two main sections:
1) Setting up the maps on your computer.
2) Viewing the maps overlayed on your phone using layers. I have only provided instruction for Symbian and Android phones, since I don’t have access to an iPhone/iOS device (not really a fan), but if anyone would care to comment on the procedure for iPhones, that would be helpful, thanks.

Update (March 2013) for Apple device users: It looks like neither the old Google maps for iPhone/iPad or the new version have this facility, although you can view your own map layers in the Google Earth app on those devices. This is less useful (I think) because you’re restricted to using the satellite view which takes longer to load and is harder to navigate with, but there we are. Alternatively there are other third party apps which suggest they allow you to view your saved google maps on your iPhone/iPad. I haven’t tried them and can’t recommend any. Again, please leave comments if you have any thoughts either way.

Section 1 : Setting up the maps using your computer/web browser

a) Create a Google Account, or log into your existing Google Account.
b) Go to “Maps” and to “My Places”.
c) There are essentially three ways to get maps into the My Places listing. They are:

– Draw the map. Click on “CREATE MAP” and use the tools displayed to draw lines, shapes, add placemarkers, give them names, etc. Be sure to save it when you’re done.

– Import a map using a KML, KMZ, or GeoRSS file (gpx also seems to work). Click on “CREATE MAP”, and then import. You can upload files or use a URL of a file already on the internet. If you have a file in a different format there are online convertors – please google for them. If your file has too many points Google Maps will put them on different pages, which is a pain in the neck so try and avoid it. Again, be sure to save the map when you’re done.

– Add somebody else’s map to your “My Places” listing. Do this by viewing the map you want to use, and selecting “Save to My Places”.
d) Now the map should show up under the My Places listing and you’re done here!

Section 2 : Viewing the overlay using Layers on your phone

Android Symbian
a) Open up the Google Maps app on your phone. With Android you will probably already be signed into a Google account. With Symbian you will need to sign in – it’s in the options menu.
b) Navigate to the Layers facility. On Android use the layers icon. On Symbian it’s [Options], [Layers], [Browse Layers]. On both you should see a “My Maps” link which you use to continue.
c) Now you should see your listing from My Places on the computer. Select the map you want to overlay and…
d) …Hey Presto!

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