For drivers and those navigating a new area, GPS and physical maps prove to be a highly useful tool. However, as technology has developed, GPS devices are still expensive and often bulky while maps are outdated and a hassle to use. Opposite to this, modern phones contain the ability to utilize resources such as satellites and networks to detect location as well as find optimal routes. While there are countless navigation apps available on the App Store, few provide enough utility to be recognized as a daily essential. In this article, we list the top navigational apps based on a stringent criteria of usability, accuracy, and differentiating factor.
The vast majority of mobile phone users are already familiar with the famed Google Maps. With detailed maps on driving, biking, and walking directions, it hosts a wide spectrum of services that make it one of the most utilized map apps available. The voice guided turn-by-turn navigation system is one of the most important features and is essential to those who are driving to avoid distractions. With dynamic routes, if a particular route is not preferred, users can deviate from it in which case the app will optimize for the next best route accordingly. With traffic alerts, Google Maps also takes traffic patterns to indicate quickest roused based on historical traffic data factored into its calculation. Furthermore, the iOS version has recently been updated to filter through restaurants and provide weather information to provide users with additional data.
Designed to make trips easier, Navigon is a complete navigational system designed with many features including day and night mode, 2D and 3D maps, route planning, intelligent address searching, and real road sign graphics. Despite being $50 USD for the United States version, the app enables for seamless navigation even when disconnected to the internet. With indicators such as speed monitors, hazard warnings, speed traps, and updated traffic reports, Navigon offers optional plugins to improve coordination and driving experience. More closely resembling a professional navigation tool, Navigon transform the mobile phone into a personal co-pilot for driving with its accurate voice input and output options instead of being purely text-based.
With an emphasis on ease-of-use, Scout allows users to navigate to different locations with minimum inputs required. The app enables users to specify custom locations such as home or work as a way to easily navigate back with a single tap of a button. With a point of interest setting, drivers can choose places to eat and drink, park their car, withdraw money, or watch films without the hassle of inputting too much information. Designed for quick, simplistic use to get drivers to their destinations, Scout distinguishes itself with a feature that lets user’s share routes with certain contacts as a way to show their estimated time of arrival (ETA). The premium feature of the app, Scout Plus, allows for the use of offline maps and viewing of real time traffic details for $24.99 USD/year.
For a cost-effective navigational tool, Sygic offers a free alternative to the paid apps. Utilizing data from past TomTom GPS systems, the app uses all of the TomTom’s maps and POIs to offer users route planning information. Completely free, the app is updated multiple times a year and has offline navigation for when the driver is not connected to a network. Available for use around the world, Sygic houses a multitude of features that make it one of the most versatile navigation apps available. From 3D options, voice navigation, speed limit warnings, and lane indicators for moving around in heavy traffic, the app is able to simultaneously compete with its rivals on both price and functionality. One of its most distinguishing features is its ability to turn into a dashcam while driving to record on-road activity. A must-have for those seeking a cost-effective navigation app, Sygic is a Swiss-army knife like GPS for a wide array of uses.
As a big name in the GPS navigation space, it is no surprise that Garmin has their own app on the App Store. While an app is available for each continent, our focus is on the United States version for simplicity as many of the features found on one version are universally available on other versions with different languages and settings. The Garmin software sports a realistic roadway map that guides drivers exactly where they are supposed to go instead of having animated roads with information that includes the speed limit, ETA , and other information all on the same screen. This lane guidance feature makes it easier to focus on driving instead of figuring out lane location as drivers can see exactly which lane they are supposed to be in. The best route planner also automatically organizes the most efficient route even when multiple destinations are entered in a random order, making it perfect for the busy driver.
As phones continue to replace dedicated technologies such as music players and navigational tools, GPS systems will get better and more accurate at directing drivers through roads. No matter what driving purpose a user may have, there is a navigational app available on the App Store that provides a cheaper alternative to traditional GPS systems.
Are there any navigational apps that you think deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments!