We're snowed in at Crave Towers today, huddled around a cheerfully crackling fire of old PC magazines while we spin tales of gadget glory. But we could be out making fresh tracks in the snow with ViewRanger, the off-road sat-nav app for mobile phones.
ViewRanger, which works on Symbian S60 phones, including the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia N97 and Samsung i8910 HD, uses Ordnance Survey maps to get you orienteering. This means that, instead of the Little Chefs and speed cameras shown by other sat-navs, you get Roman forts and rights of way.
You can plan your walk in the winter wonderland on the OS maps, or download annotated trail guides from the ViewRanger route library. The app also records your stroll, noting how far you've walked, how long you've been out, and details of your speed, pace, heading and altitude. And you can post it all to Facebook, giving a warm feeling to your mates who are eating the last of the Christmas chocolate in front of the telly.
Panoramic maps show the names of the peaks and valleys blanketed with snow, and tag your snapshots with your GPS location so you can remember where your chum fell down that crevasse. You could also just call for help, and direct the rescue team to the Web page on which they can see your location updating live as an avalanche carries you down a gully.
Using a sat-nav in winter weather reminds us of one of the advantages of resistive touchscreens. Normally, we prefer the capacitive type, since they feel more responsive and you don't need to apply pressure with a fingernail to use them. But you can use a stylus with a resistive screen, meaning that you won't have to take your gloves off to use it.
ViewRanger comes as software for your phone or bundled with an unlocked, SIM-free Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, including 1:50,000 OS maps for all of Great Britain. Other scale maps, and maps for other countries, cost extra. It's not cheap -- the bundle will cost you £340, or it's £150 for the software if you already have a Symbian phone. A free trial version is available at the ViewRanger Web site.