Q&A on the NEW 4x4 Explorer App from Hema Maps - Update 19th Feb 2021

Posted by Emprise Marketing on

4x4 Explorer App from Hema Maps new product release

Since its release in October, we have continued to refine the 4x4 Explorer App based on user feedback. Outlined below is an updated list (as at 19 Feb 21) of key questions from explorers that we’ve attempted to answer as concisely as possible below.

Q.1- How is the 4x4 Explorer App different to the other Apps that Hema offers?

We have put together the following table that shows the difference between the three apps that Hema currently offers (note the Explorer app is now no longer for sale):


The key difference with the new 4x4 Explorer App to our other apps is that it is a full feature rich mapping application built on an entirely new technology platform with Hema’s new Vector map which is scalable, very responsive and versatile and ideally suited to digital platforms. Using the Vector map dramatically reduced the size of the offline package compared to the previous Raster map solution.

Q.2- What is the difference between Vector and Raster Maps?

In essence Raster maps are very much akin to paper maps with layers built upon one another at a static scale. They are very rich in detail but digitally are problematic due to the size of the files which can cause stability and speed issues. These maps do not offer a multi-level-zoom experience because of its single scale level. We have many Hema customers who love this style of map and in the new 4x4 Explorer Raster maps are offered as a downloadable subscription option for our key map areas including the Great Desert Track and Iconic Map series.

The Vector Maps are built to suit a digital platform. They are responsive, fast and versatile, offer the ability to rotate maps and show 3D views. The world's major mapping companies are moving to this platform for their digital mapping products and enables enhanced navigation possibilities on the platform.

Q.3- On the new 4x4 Explorer App there looks like 5 different map types. Is there more information on what these are?

Within the new 4x4 Explorer App there are five different map layers as follows:      

  • Hema X Lite - simple map which has comprehensive on-road coverage provided by Open Street Map (OSM). This is available online and offline in the app. This and the satellite maps are the only map layers built on an OSM platform. All other map layers are Hema's own maps built up over the last 30 years.
4x4 Explorer App Map HemaX Lite Map Style
  • Hema Touring Map - more detailed Hema map which has a combination of on-road and off-road coverage but reduced topographic features. The on-road coverage is provided by HERE and this is available online and offline in the app.
4x4 Explorer App Map Hema Touring Map Style
  • Premium Explorer Map - Hema’s complete topographic map with comprehensive on-road and off-road coverage plus complete Hema styling and attribution. This map has been built up over the last 30 years through Map Patrol field work. It's data is sourced directly from our mapping database that is used to create our printed maps (however incorporates all the latest updates). This is available as part of the app for online use. Offline use can be accessed via subscription.
4x4 Explorer App Map Hema Premium Map Style
  • Mapbox Satellite Map - Satellite coverage of Australia and is only available online and is included as part of the base App purchase. Note that Mapbox have recently done a major update of their satellite imagery (more details here).
4x4 Explorer App Map Hema Satellite Map Style
  • Mapbox Hybrid Satellite Map - Combination of Mapbox Satellite coverage of Australia combined with OSM road and locality data. This is only available online and is included as part of the base App purchase.
4x4 Explorer App Map Hema Hybrid Satellite Map Style

Q.4- Does Hema just use OSM Maps now?

No. Hema is a mapping company and has spent 30 years exploring Australia and building up its maps. Its touring and premium map are Hema's maps and use the same data we use for our printed maps (albeit the latest updates).

We have offered the OSM Map (Hema Lite) and Satellite/Hybrid maps as additional layers for our customers to use.

The default offline map that comes in the standard $50 purchase of the App is the Hema Touring Map. The Hema premium map for offline use can be purchased as an additional subscription of $50 per year.

Q.5- Why does Hema have four apps and not just one comprehensive one?

It’s like different models of car. Customers have different mapping requirements, preferences and price points and we have therefore tailored our map options to suit.

We have put together the following table that shows the difference between the four apps that Hema currently offers:


Unlike other navigation services which are inbuilt in your phone, their purpose is simply to get you from A to B. The Hema App products have been developed to help consumers plan, navigate and share their experiences in a way tailored to their style of touring. 

Q.6- Is the 4x4 Explorer App a replacement for the existing Explorer App?

The existing Explorer app was released six years ago and was built on a software platform that was considered ‘state of the art’ at the time. However, six technology years could be considered the equivalent to 30 normal years and technology and mapping technology in particular has moved on quite a bit since the time the Explorer App was released. 

Therefore, Hema made the decision to move to a brand new technology and mapping platform which is what the 4x4 Explorer App has been built on. We have an ambitious development platform for the 4x4 Explorer App and we welcome customer feedback to help shape this.

However, we acknowledge that some customers will prefer the mapping style in the existing Explorer App over the new style in the 4x4 Explorer App. Therefore, we will maintain the existing Explorer app for the foreseeable future but have discontinued selling it to new users. It is important to note for our existing customers that development investment will be focused on the new 4x4 Explorer App as that is the future development platform for the business.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact our Technical Support Team on 07 3340 0000, Option 1.

Q.7- Can I get my tracks from the existing cloud onto the new platform?

The short answer is yes. We haven’t moved everyone’s tracks automatically across from the old cloud to the new cloud platform as there were compatibility issues and a lot of redundant data which would have slowed the performance of the new cloud. However, we have just completed an update to the new cloud where you can automatically transfer your tracks from the old cloud to the new cloud. An instruction guide on how this works will be released next week. 

Q.8- The initial videos released for the 4x4 Explorer App were good but a bit high level. Are there other ‘how to’ videos coming out? 

Yes, we’ve currently released:

We are also working on three more videos as follows:

  • How to plan a trip
  • How to record and plot tracks
  • How to transfer information from the old cloud to the new cloud. 

We expect these new videos to be released very soon!

You can also access online training, latest videos and a user guide at this link.

Q.9-I’m a bit disappointed that the new map in the 4x4 Explorer App is not as detailed as the one in the Explorer App?

The new map in the 4x4 Explorer app is a cutting edge map platform called ‘Vector’ which Hema Maps have been developing over the past two years. All the major mapping companies are using this platform as it is specifically designed for digital use and perfect for Apps and websites. Th Vector Map takes up much less data, is super quick and allows a greater number of zoom levels than the traditional printed maps (known as Raster tiles) when loaded in digital form. It also allows us to load updates to the features much quicker than traditionally.

We are making continual updates to the new Hema Vector Map and based on customer feedback we are looking to bring some of the much loved elements of the Explorer base map into the new platform. The first changes will be live in your new Apps by the end of April.

The other part of the new Hema Digital Map which you will see evolve continually is the underlying map data generated by additional field work, led by the Hema Map Patrol, which will continue to update the tracks, roads and POIs within the map.

Q.10- The 4x4 Explorer App is a bit difficult to use, in particular the trip planning and track features?

The 4x4 Explorer app is packed full of features which our older platforms did not have. To get the most out of the new platform it does require a little bit of knowledge on what the product is capable of in order to get the best out of it. Once you get a handle of it, the features do open up a range of useful tools.

You can also access online training, latest videos and a user guide at this link.

Q.11- I want to sort my tracks into folders. When is that functionality being added?.

This feature has now been added to the new Cloud (https://cloud.hemamaps.com) under My Account/Folders

Q.12- Is this app Apple CarPlay compatible?.

No, not compatible with Apple Car Play or Android Auto. If you do want a solution for your vehicle we can highly recommend the HX-1 GPS Navigator which is ideally suited to both on-road and off-road navigation.

The HX-1 can be purchased here or your local Hema stockist.

Q.13- I have the Explorer App and want to transition to the 4x4 Explorer App?.

 The two app's are completely different so you will need to purchase the new app from the relevent app store (IOS or Android). However, if you have a Hema Pro Subscription or have bought the Explorer App in the last 12 months please get in touch with our Customer Service Team at the following link and they can discuss a transition path for you.

Q.13- Can I use this App on my HX-1?

No unfortunately, this App cannot be currently loaded on the HX-1 or HN7. However, you can sync tracks between the two by manually uploading or downloading GPX tracks. We are putting the finishing touches on an automated solution to enable the transfer of tracks from the old cloud (HX-1 and Explorer) to the new cloud (4x4 Explorer and CamperX). Stay tuned for further updates.

We'll continue to update this Q&A as we get more frequent questions.

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  • Thanks for the simple explanation on the difference between the Explorer and 4×4 Explorer Apps.
    It was a previously a little hard to see that 4×4 Exp. has the newest digital format (Vector) and has helped me decide to go with that App.

    Andy on
  • No it currently isn’t. However, will add it to the Hema Maps development wish list and establish if it is feasible to roll out for the new products.

    Hema Maps on
  • What’s the difference Between This new Hema 4×4 explorer and the current Hema Explorer app? You don’t mention it in your table of comparison apps? Why not? Will the Hema Explorer app be discontinued ?

    Guy on
  • We tow an 8.3m caravan with a height clearance of 3.5m. Does the new 4×4 app have the option of including the van’s length and height to keep us away from roads that are not suitable for us? We mainly tow on sealed roads.

    Graeme Ryder on
  • Excellent and a very welcome summary of the product comparisons and also the features of 4×4 Explorer. My only feedback is that the 4×4 Explorer raster maps should be bundled into the $49.99 Premium subscription as well. This would certainly be a consideration for renewing my subscription next year. Cheers!

    Dave Miller on

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