The average smartphone today takes on a lot of responsibilities, ranging from calculations, to acting as the daily alarm clock. In recent years, they have gradually started taking the place of traditional car sat navs as more people use free apps downloadable on smartphones to find their way to their destinations. We take a look at some of the best free apps; ones that you can rely on.
This is a community app where users contribute information about traffic, accidents and other pertinent road factors. It does a decent job, but the interface is somewhat lacking when compared to the others on this list. Also, there is the possibility that there aren’t any users contributing from around the area you are driving. Downloaded maps are available offline.
In the smartphone maps world, Google is the biggest. Google maps have been in use for years now and are available on Android and Apple devices.
The Android version of Google maps features a custom built navigation option, which makes turn by turn driving straightforward. The standard navigation option also works relatively well. This app features strong search ability and a wonderful street view function. It can also be activated by voice and has regular free updates and live traffic updates in 220 countries.
The disadvantage of using this app is that it requires an active internet connection to work. Maps can only be accessed online and can guzzle a lot of data. This makes it almost unequivocally the wrong choice if you are abroad, as you will have to pay expensive data roaming fees. Also, it is not the best to take along on an adventure where you will move out of network coverage. You can choose to download a 50 mile radius, but misery be unto you if you stray outside your boundary line.
This popular app is free on the major mobile platforms as well. Boasting millions of users, it is not hard to see that it is good at its job. You can buy maps separately if you are travelling and everything is downloaded onto the phone. This means all you need for it to work is a GPS signal. It is not without its downside though, as there are no spoken street names and the search functionality is less than stellar. You will also have to live with intrusive adverts unless you are willing to go premium.
Nokia Here Maps
In a bid to avoid being left behind, Nokia came up with their own navigation system. The app is available on Windows devices but it can also be downloaded free of charge on iOS and Android devices. It features real time updates, information on public transportation, and more. Interestingly, the map data can be downloaded offline.
In the early days of this app, it had lots of challenges, but, these days, it offers good navigation. The instructions are clear and easy to understand, but as is the case with Google Maps, you can’t use it without a data plan, except for through a bit of automatic caching.
With any of these apps, you can get by on day to day drives. However for a more complete navigation solution, a standalone car sat nav is almost certainly what you need.