When it comes to navigation apps on your smartphone, sticking with what you know can often lead you in the wrong direction, literally and figuratively.
While mapping giants Google and Apple have the basics down to a science, there are a myriad of other apps out there that can do the same job and more, sometimes better than the big guys. With a focus on the needs of the average driver, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 navigation apps for drivers available for both Apple and Android users.
5. Apple Maps
Sometimes what you’ve already got is good enough. Apple’s proprietary maps app is no superstar, but it gets the job done. With live traffic updates, 3D displays and pretty much everything else you need as a driver – not to mention the ability to work seamlessly with Siri – you may want to stick with what’s already on your iPhone for the sake of simplicity (and data storage).
Plus, drivers of new cars equipped with Apple CarPlay functionality will enjoy the ability to input a destination, plug in the phone, and have turn-by-turn directions pop up right on the infotainment screen, and seamlessly switch between music and text message reading capabilities.
(Comes pre-installed on iOS devices, unavailable on Android)
The big map apps all do point-to-point directions with ease, but what about those of us who make multiple stops along one trip? For the road-tripper in all of us, there’s inRoute, a free app that gives you the freedom to plot up to five stops on one trip. InRoute also lets you search for points of interest between where you are and where you’re going, handy in a pinch when you find yourself in the backwoods in need of a gas station.
For an extra $4.99, inRoute users can add up to 25 stops on one trip, including the amount of time you plan to stop at each location, and a feature that reorders stops into the fastest and most efficient route. Take note, Google and Apple.
(Available for free on the iTunes store with option for a $4.99 upgrade)
Waze was an overnight success, and has become a cult favorite among commuters in the know, with good reason. By using inputs from other drivers in the area and around the world, it crowd-sources traffic updates, road hazards, detours, speed cameras, and even police officers lurking behind the nearest sight-line obstruction. Users can get detailed too, with the ability to make notes and post photos to be clearer about what lies on the road ahead.
While it lags behind the big players in location accuracy and public transportation/walking options, as well as cycling routes. There’s also no option for offline use, as it relies solely on cellular data or WiFi. Either way, if you’re looking to socialize your commute, Waze is the one and only.
2. Google Maps
There’s a reason Google Maps stays so high on this list, and much of it has to do with the wealth of information afforded to the internet giant. Live traffic updates, estimated times of arrival, and nearby places of interest are what Google does best, and as an all-rounder, there are none better. Google has also upped its game in the suggestion department, learning what routes you take and what you like to do on your way and using it to personalize the experience.
What’s the catch, then? Well, there aren’t many, but Google still forces you to search for routes and directions while online before being used offline, and there are no live updates or warnings like with Waze. The seamless integration with search and other Google apps may be enough to offset that, though.
Nokia’s impressively-comprehensive navigation app was just bought by a consortium of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW for a whopping $3 billion, and upon using the HERE app, it’s not hard to see why. With a massive fleet of mapping vehicles and cloud-based updates, HERE is able to plot directions almost down to the inch, hence the interest from automakers for their autonomous car efforts.
Couple that with the ability to download offline maps for cities, states, and even entire countries around the world, and HERE begins to make a lot of sense. It’s free to download, free to use, and setting route preferences is easier than offerings from Google and Apple. It also gives you driving, walking, and public transit directions in one place, rather than having to re-search for each separate option. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, do it now. You’ll thank us later.