The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has launched a mobile version of its Google-Earth like satellite mapping tool Bhuvan. The Bhuvan mobile app is accessible from bhuvan3.nrsc.gov.in/bhuvan/mobile/mobile.html or users can download its Android app (direct link to the apk file).
Features: We tried out the app on our Android handset (Micromax A90S). The app just provides a Google-Earth like satellite map on the screen. One can search for any location from the search bar on the top of the app or allow the app to track device location through phone’s GPS.
The zoomed in maps provided by the apps is very funny — it’s blurry and has nrsc/ISRO image watermarked all over the maps. One can also add layers such as place names and Rediff Map on it. The Rediff Map layer adds railway tracks, road, highways, and more towns/cities names.
Comparatively Google Earth for Android provides layers to browse roads, borders, places, photos and 3D imagery in some cities such as San Francisco, Boston, Rome, among others.
Why not submit to Google Play Store?
Surprisingly, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) has not submitted the app to the Google Play Store and instead provides a direct link to the apk (Android compatible) file. By providing a direct apk file on its website, NRSC is essentially limiting the discoverability of the app. That said, it also raises security concerns. People are reluctant to download Android apps outside of the Google Play Store as they fear that it might contain malware.
To solve this Google offered a new feature in Android 4.2 that allows one to give access to Google to receive log information, URLs related to the app, and general information about the device, such as the Device ID, version of the operating system, IP address, and one or more cookies while installing apps outside of Google Play. This helps Google to track which app contains malware and warn users from installing it. However, according to Google, only 6.5% of the overall Android device run on Android 4.2.x, indicating that a majority of handsets are not able to take advantage of this feature.
Add content to Bhuvan:
Bhuvan has also released an ‘Add Content’ option allowing Bhuvan users to add Point of Interest (POI) data under various categories with simplified user interface. Bhuvan users can see their own added POI data under ‘My Content’ option and can see the POI data added by other Bhuvan users under ‘Unverified Content’.
It’s not clear if ISRO plans to verify this user generated data at some point, however, it’s interesting to note that ISRO is taking the crowdsourced approach to generate data for its maps.
Google also allows its users to add new map data through its Mapmaker.
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