Nowadays most people can’t imagine being on the road without using a GPS device. While many prefer standalone GPS devices, GPS apps for iPhones as well as other smartphones are becoming more and more popular. Latest GPS apps have a number of advantages such as more accurate maps, detailed voice prompts and especially important traffic and safety camera alerts.
GPS Apps or GPS Devices?
Before revealing all the advantages of the apps, let’s find out why you still should consider a standalone GPS as your first option. Unlike apps, physical devices may offer some great features, though this list is quickly becoming shorter.
The screens of some GPS devices may be as big as 10 inches, which of course is not possible with any iPhone out there.
In most cases, a GPS device screen shows many types of information such as current speed and the speed limit. Besides, most GPS devices offer such a useful feature as multi-segment routing (considering one or more stops along the way), while many GPS apps consider only the starting and destination points.
What really matters is that in navigation mode the battery of your smartphone runs down very fast.
Overall, voice prompts may be not as clear on a phone’s speaker and probably you’ll have to buy an additional hands-free set while a standalone GPS comes with additional one or two mounts and a car charger.
However, smartphone apps may also offer some benefits, for example receiving regular map and software upgrades. To update your GPS device, you’ll have to connect it to your computer or at least Wi-Fi.
On Apps Only
Mobile apps often have integrated walking, cycling, and public transport navigation plus sometimes even cycling directions. They can be very helpful when one is visiting a new place or a city.
Another benefit that apps offer is transit directions – a combination of driving, walking and/or public transport used by a lot of people in large cities. Having access to all three kinds of transit in one app is really handy.
Besides, it’s always easier to search for points of interest (POIs) on a smartphone app rather than on a standalone GPS device. Whenever the app doesn’t give you enough information, you can just open a browser and find what you need over there.
Finally, all the apps given on our list below are free, so why not to check out few of them to choose the one that works best for you. Having tested various free and paid apps for iOS devices, we chose the ones that are most reliable and will help you reach your destination at the shortest time. While all apps reviewed below are meant for iOS, most of them are also available for Android devices.
- Google Maps
Google Maps is definitely the leader among GPS apps, with its great maps and animation, handy features, accurate routing, and POI data. It’s one of the most popular free GPS apps.
Waze is free and available for various platforms. It has some outstanding features such as crowdsourcing and social navigation. It’s a good choice for those who want to try a new interactive app.
- Here Maps
Here Maps is a free GPS app, available on iOS as well as on Android and even Windows. It offers pedestrian, cycling and transit navigation; however, they may have some bugs and some missing information for public transport. In general, Here is a fine alternative to Google Maps, but yet not as good, though.
InRoute can be another good substitute for Google Maps. It offers weather charts, lets you plan multi-segment trips. However, it also has certain cons, like confusing interface, the absence of transit navigation and traffic alerts.
- Scout GPS
The advantages of Scout GPS app include accurate car navigation, traffic and incident camera alerts plus detailed POI information. It also offers a monthly or annual fee for upgrading to Scout Plus version while coming with ads in a free version.
- Apple Maps
Apple Maps offer a simple interface, traffic alerts, and detailed turn-by-turn directions. Yet, the current version is far from perfect and is not at all as powerful as Google Maps.
Being popular in the past for printing out road maps, MapQuest still keeps working as a free GPS app. It offers driving and walking directions and is handy for multi-segment trip planning. However, its database is limited; the app has some upsetting bugs, and there are no public transit directions.