ArcGIS for iOS Release

Over the holiday weekend, ESRI’s new ArcGIS for iOS went live on the Apple iTunes Store.

ArcGIS for iOS (iPhone) Splash Screen

ESRI lists the following as “features”:

  • Navigate map galleries in just a few taps
  • Use maps authored in ArcGIS.com
  • Access your own GIS data
  • Display and zoom to current location
  • Perform linear and area measurements based on your current location or by interacting with the map.
  • Retrieve detailed map metadata
  • View feature attribute information
  • Perform keyword search and get access to relevant information
  • Execute predefined searches
  • Change the visibility of layers
  • Access popular maps faster by adding them to your favorites list
  • Share maps with other iPhone/iPad users

Now the app is quite impressive. The functionality and the ease of use stand out to me on my quick look this morning. The UI is simple and puts both the map and search functionality front and center. There is also a “Find Maps” button that takes you to what is essentially ArcGIS Online, where you can view many maps that are available in that service as well as add your own web mapping service. The only issue I have with this is that currently you can only add ArcGIS Server web services, not any OGC services. In an ESRI centric environment, that might not be an issue, but it does limit its use outside of an “ESRI shop”. You also can’t consume CSW services to discover web content, you can only use ArcGIS.com.

The simple UI for ArcGIS for iOS on the iPhone

ArcGIS for iOS Find Maps Screen

ArcGIS for iOS Browse Maps Screen

The ArcGIS for iOS OpenStreetMap Service

ArcGIS for iOS uses ESRI Web Services Only

The search works well in that you can find not only places, but companies and other useful points of interest.

Isn't it nice how the search for ESRI puts you right at the front door of the Q Building?

The Map Tools are accessible via the wrench in the upper right Map screen and give you Identify and Measure (Area and Distance). The Identify has a reverse geocoder to give you the address of a location as well as its coordinate and any features available.

The map tools available for ArcGIS for iOS

The identify function of ArcGIS for iOS

ArcGIS for iOS is a very impressive mobile mapping app. It really shows the attention to detail ESRI has put into their new ArcGIS Mobile apps. Compared to the old Windows CE and Windows Mobile crap they used to put out, this was easily used by my son without any direction. Having all those ESRI web services (from the wonderful Topological Map, to the Bing Maps) at your finger tips is great (plus adding in OSM is just icing on the cake).

ArcGIS Golf Oil Spill Forecast Map

As I said above, my biggest disappointment is lack of OGC standards support. WMS and CSW support is really needed to make this application valuable outside of ESRI centric workflows. That said, watching my 7 year old son move around the application with ease gives me new hope what we GIS folks can actually make usable GIS apps for public consumption. We’ll just have to see how open they can get.