You do not have to be a frequent flyer to know how indispensable navigation apps have become. Many of us rely on these apps to travel from country to country and to travel in foreign cities, but more of us rely on these apps to outperform traffic and find the fastest way to school or work. Of course we all have our favorite mapping apps, but which one is really the best?
Although there is a wide range of navigation apps for iPhone and Android, many have fallen by the wayside with the advent of a handful of apps dominating the scene. Google Maps and Apple Maps are the most important ones, though there are smaller apps (Waze and MapQuest) that have managed to assert themselves and remain relevant. Let's see how they compare.
Table of Contents
- Platform: On which of the two major mobile operating systems (Android, iOS) and two major desktop operating systems (MacOS, Windows) is the navigation service available.
- Planned Countries and Territories: How many recognized countries and territories are assigned by the app. This includes only maps no satellite images, navigation, driving directions, or road view.
- Countries and Territories with Directions: How many countries and territories have total directions in this navigation? App. If you travel frequently, you'll need a map app to help you get from point A to point B in as many countries as possible.
- Street View: Although this is not omnipresent because of the Herculean task. If you need to physically photograph each street, you'll get an initial overview of the locations, if available, so you know exactly what to expect.
- Overlays: Additional data that can be displayed at the top of the standard map. These overlays can range from satellite views, to terrain views, and transit routes. The more information you have, the better.
- 3D View: Some apps have this feature to give you a more natural view of things. In Google Maps, the 3D view is limited to silhouettes of buildings (you need Google Earth if you want footage). Apple Maps gives you fully rendered 3D maps of entire cities, but they're not widely available.
- Live Location Sharing: The ability to share your current location with friends and family in real time (or view location) by others). This is different from releasing your current location in a one-time situation where you click the release button and copy your address to send another app. Google Maps and Apple Maps offer this feature specifically.
- Location History: Whether the app can save a history log while you're traveling. Useful to find the places you have visited on an unforgettable holiday or to find a shop that you have visited in the past.
- Cultural Focal Indicators: Every city has an interesting area where people like to meet and hang out. For example, Jersey City has its Downtown neighborhood, while Manhattan has East Village and several others. An app that highlights these noteworthy areas can be useful if you really want to get to know the local culture of a city you visit. This feature is currently only available on Google Maps, and the cultural hotspots are highlighted in tan.
- Weather Data: This feature allows you to clear the current weather conditions and tell you about the rainfall on your trip, temperature, air quality and more.
- Indoor Maps: This feature allows you to view the location of airports, shopping malls, and / or other public buildings to ensure they are never lost.
- Offline Maps: The ability to download maps so you can view details about an area when your phone is not connected to the Internet. Useful if your data connection is sporadic or expensive depending on the country you are in.
- Traffic data: Traffic is fluid and can be from smooth to unbelievably strong due to various factors like accidents and road traffic. Some apps can go even further and provide you with speed traps and traffic camera locations to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.
- Traffic Data Source: This very important feature is essential to the function of a navigation app: the data that provides relevant traffic information. This may be done by in-house research (preferred), other users of the service, the parent company of the app (such as Google with Waze) or third-party providers such as OpenStreetMaps.
- High Traffic Warnings: As bad as the rush hour is, the worse it gets in an accident. Good navigation apps will alert you in good time to unusually heavy traffic so you have time for preparation and early departure.
- Speed limits: Whether the app displays speed limits for the roads you drive or not in navigation mode. However, this feature is not available in all areas.
- Guidance: When you're on the road, nothing is as annoying as the exit you have on the wrong lane. This sophisticated feature helps to minimize this headache by telling you which lane you should be in navigation mode.
- Adding Toll and HOV Passes: Toll Passes such as EZ Pass and HOV Lanes for Transit Buses and Carpooling can drive the freeway faster as they have conventional toll stations and regular lanes that can accumulate quickly , avoid. Some apps may choose to use these lanes during navigation.
- Avoid tolls and highways: If you find you have chosen a chargeable route, you can expect heavy fines when donating. You do not have cash available, while the instructions for highways sometimes hinder you due to congestion Your journey are. Fortunately, most navigation apps offer the ability to avoid these two to reduce the hassle.
- Choose different routes: When you start navigation, most apps give you a choice of two or three routes to better reflect your needs. Some apps even inform you when a quicker route opens and appears as an option while driving to reach your destination ahead of time.
- Add pit stops: Long road rides inevitably lead to unplanned pit stops The bathroom breaks, an almost empty gas tank or hunger. Although most navigation apps limit this feature to just one stop per ride, for some apps you can enter as many additional stops as you like.
- View Gas Prices: Gas prices vary from station to station and this tidy function allows you to see the corresponding prices in the app to make sure you get the most gas for your money.
- Handsfree In-App: Safety is paramount when driving, and interacting with your device by nature is inherently dangerous for you and others. Therefore, many navigation apps can be given instructions via voice commands to maximize security. We listed "in-app" here while testing, which means that we counted it as "yes" only if the app detects voice commands, not the phone's built-in digital assistant.
- Getting Around By Other Transportation: There are many ways to get around driving, and most navigation apps provide alternative transportation routes such as local transport, bicycling, taxis, and good old-time walking.
- Re-Center: This feature is fairly common in navigation apps, so you can instantly reset the view to your current position within your navigation route to see cross streets and get a better determination of your ride.
- Accessible Navigation: Many of us have special needs that need to be considered during a trip, such as: B. Wheelchair accessible locations for us or someone we love. Some apps can meet these requirements, others do not.
- Save Parking Spot: If you save your navigation app the location in which you have parked, this is very useful if you visit an unknown location, especially if the place is very large urban area.
- Offline Navigation: Unlike the above offline maps, this is the way to navigate with a bad or nonexistent Internet connection . Ideal for the transition between good and bad mobile services to ensure smooth, trouble-free navigation.
- Works when the screen is off: A navigation app that dictates navigation instructions even when the screen is off. Isn & # 39; This is only practical if you walk around, and it can also be a lifesaver if the cell phone's battery is nearly empty.
- Dark Mode: By default most navigation apps are set to automatically switch to dark mode as soon as the day changes to the night reflect your surroundings better. However, some apps give you the option to permanently apply these settings to save battery life.
- Ride-Share Integration: Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are part of our everyday lives Navigation apps that integrate these services eliminate the need to open a separate app and make it more comfortable overall.
- Picture In Picture: Sometimes you have to navigate while navigating. You may want to read the reviews of a restaurant you visit. This feature is useful, but regardless of the navigation app, it is currently available only on devices running Android 8.0 or later.
- Lock Screen Navigation: If you are walking or using public transport, navigate from your device's lock The screen is inherently more secure than unlocking the phone, as you have secure protection against unauthorized access if Your phone is lost or stolen.
- View Festivals & Protests: A cultural festival like Oktoberfest can hold a party. Your holiday is all the more memorable, while events like the protests of the French "Yellow Vest" have the potential to completely ruin them. Fortunately, there are apps that will let you know about these events as they happen, so you can join in or avoid the fun, depending on your preferences.
- Personal Recommendations: If your smartphone interactions do not matter & # 39; To be personal enough, some navigation apps now have a feature that can give you recommendations about a personalized feed based on the places you visit, along with restaurants and stores you follow. This ensures that you are always in places that you want to visit, no matter where you are in the world.
- Dinner reservations: This feature is very convenient as you can immediately reserve a table in a restaurant. You want to try it out. This eliminates the headache if you stop in advance to make a reservation.
- Report Traffic Issues: Congestion can arise from nowhere and quickly turn highway into a parking lot. Being able to report an accident or heavy traffic in real time can be beneficial for other drivers, and if other drivers can do the same, it can be of use to you.
- Post Reviews: Posted Ratings help us decide which products to buy or which services to offer, whether cars, restaurants, toys … the list goes on. Some apps give you the ability to post reviews on the places you visit, to give others a better idea of the services they are offering, so they know what to expect. Even if you do not want to contribute, you can benefit from this feature because other users will review the places you might want to visit.
- Auto Support: Thanks to Android Auto and CarPlay, you can now use many popular navigation apps right out of the car. Unfortunately, not all navigation apps are supported.
- AR Features: Augmented Reality – AR for short – was adopted by certain navigation apps because of their ability to enhance the user experience. For example, with Apple's flyover, you can get a bird's-eye view of a supported city while you move your phone.
- Widgets: This option is great for multitasking and mainly displays navigation instructions on the home screen of your device when supported.
- Music Integration: If you play your favorite tracks on a long drive, you can not be bored. If you have an app that lets you play music in-app, you do not have to go without it. Switch between navigation and an external music app.
- Siri Shortcuts: With Siri Shortcuts you can create instantly available commands to further optimize your navigation. For example, you can create a morning commute link to automate the task that you can perform by summoning Siri and speaking the specified command.
App 1: Google Maps
No Surprise, Google Maps is a handy leader in our comparison. The app is clearly the most comprehensive of all the maps on this list, with 266 countries and regions and full directions for 253. In addition, Google Maps offers a wealth of features that make it the best app for navigation at home and abroad.
Google Maps is an impressive app when it comes to navigation. The app uses data derived from Google Earth and combines it with information collected by users worldwide to provide some of the most accurate traffic data. And thanks to regular software updates, there is no doubt that the service will continue to improve.
With Uber and Lyft you can swiftly summon your car, and you can even get a bike riding. Google Maps not only offers routes for cars and carpools, but also instructions for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport as well as the display of wheelchair accessible areas.
While all the apps on this list show gas station prices, Google Maps is by far the easiest to see. It shows the price in the detailed map below, when you select a gas station on the map. These gas prices also appear when a gas station is added as a pit stop during longer journeys. Unlike many other apps in this list, you can use Google Maps to add more than one stop for your trip.
Google Maps offers indoor maps for airports, shopping malls, and museums, which you can access by zooming in on the destination location. Buildings and other structures are displayed in 3D in the standard layout. This is even more obvious if you use two fingers to change the viewing angle. However, applying the satellite overlay will display everything in 2D. Fortunately, the app offers Street View, if you need a first-person perspective to better orient yourself.
With all these features, the app's interface can sometimes get a little overwhelming, leading us to the main drawbacks of the app. The numerous overlays of Google Maps can overwhelm your senses and, ironically, can cause you to lose yourself within the app itself, as numerous reports, landmarks, and small and large businesses appear on your screen.
Fortunately, the app allows you to minimize information overload by optionally setting overlays such as transit, satellite, and bicycle overlays. In addition, Google Maps has built-in weather data and the ability to manually report traffic-related issues. All in all, however, the benefits of Google Maps far outweigh the limitations it has, making it a solid companion for travelers worldwide.
App 2: Apple Maps
Apple Maps is Google's answer to Google Maps, and despite a rocky start, the app has become the preferred navigation app for many iPhone users due to its simple user interface and overall reliability. User developed. According to Apple's MO, it's only available on Apple devices like iPhones and Macs, but on the other side of the coin, the app improves with every major iOS update to make sure it stays competitive.
- Install Apple Maps: iOS (free))
Apple Maps offers countless features that set it apart from the crowd, such as the full integration of Siri for a true hands-free experience and accurate real-time coverage of roadworks and accident delays. In addition, the app provides support for indoor maps for airports and shopping centers, which is useful for frequent flyers and occasional tourists alike.
Apple Maps also includes ride sharing integration that lets you call Uber or Uber drive Lyft directly from the app itself. When you drive around, the app displays important data such as speed limits to maximize safety. The tracking feature is also easiest to understand from all the apps on the list and is clearly displayed in front of an exit or intersection to ensure they are not overlooked.
The Apple Maps 3D view wins with a mile as it provides vivid 3D renderings of major cities around the world like London, Paris, Sydney and Tokyo. It's worth noting that this feature currently covers 353 cities around the world, as highlighted by the tiny "3D" design of available cities, but Apple is likely to cover more as it continues to update its app.
In addition to the limited coverage of 3D View, there are other elements that Apple Maps needs to improve to create a truly great navigation app. For one thing, the app does not currently support street view, though it is likely to be introduced in the future as it has been actively exploring areas in the US and selected countries with LiDAR vans since 2015
Apple Maps is also heavily focused on urban Centers rather than countries as a whole, which makes it limited in terms of total coverage compared to Google Maps and even MapQuest. This can clearly be seen by looking at the coverage of smaller cities and rural areas in Google Map, which offers more details like parks than Apple Maps.
Unlike Google Maps and Waze, Apple Maps does not provide police reports such as speed traps and cameras. Therefore, it is not ideal if you depend on this feature to avoid potential tickets. Cyclists may also want to avoid using Apple Maps because it does not offer bicycle navigation. The biggest drawback of Apple Maps, however, is the availability. The app is only available for iOS and MacOS devices and is therefore inaccessible to users on the Android platform.
App 3: Waze
Waze is the navigation app for drivers around the world and it's easy to see why. The app provides new alerts, such as speed traps, to help you stay one step ahead of law enforcement and avoid expensive tickets. The app uses data collected by colleagues Wazers to create an incredibly accurate real-time view of your environment.
Google bought Waze in 2013 and since then has been using Google Maps data to improve user-selected services, and vice versa. In addition to these speed traps, Waze will also show you other important traffic data such as police stations, traffic cameras, road works and accidental slowdowns, including even average speeds.
In addition to detailed real-time traffic reports, Waze has built-in options such as toll and highway bypass, and toll roads such as EZ Pass and HOV can be added for additional routes. The app also offers hands-free navigation and pit stop supplements to ensure safer and smoother road driving.
Waze removes almost all the bells and whistles that can be found on the more well-known counterparts, and is comparatively bleak – there are no buildings in 3D and no satellite or terrain overlays, just elements that you need to travel safely to be. Of course, this reduced functionality has some disadvantages, such as limited options for other modes of transport.
As a driver-oriented navigation app, Waze offers several options for different modes of transport and can find the optimal routes for motorcycles and electric cars and taxis. Unfortunately, the app does not provide instructions for cycling and walking, so it is not an ideal companion when not in a car, especially in urban areas.
The disadvantages of Waze do not end here. It has the least coverage in this list. Currently only 72 countries are supported by the app. While this has been the case in the past, the app has removed the option to download routes for offline navigation. This can be a problem if you encounter a bad wireless service area while driving. And because of the lack of building contours and indoor maps, it's harder to focus on a specific building or landmark on foot.
App 4: MapQuest
Although by no means as popular as Google and Apple, MapQuest is still a solid and reliable navigation app that's well worth a look. The app has 252 countries and regions designed and comes standard with many features that make it a great companion when sightseeing in another state or country.
Although MapQuest has long been overshadowed by its more popular competitors, the app has been around for a long time. It was the map of choice long before Google Maps became a household name. The glory of the app is based on the layering feature, which allows you to apply and remove map items such as hospitals, to display only relevant information and to keep your card trouble-free.
Like Google Maps, MapQuest provides real-time reports such as heavy traffic due to accidents, road works and traffic cameras to help you avoid delays and annoyance. Speed limits are also displayed and are easy to navigate, along with your current speed when You drive faster than 15 km / h.
In addition, the app offers you a choice between a standard layout with footprints and a footprint satellite overlay to give you a better perspective on the go. Relevant weather details such as the current temperature and weather forecast are displayed in the lower right corner and disappear as soon as navigation is started.
As good as MapQuest is, it lacks some notable features and subtleties that we've become accustomed to, and it has a user interface that is slightly more inaccessible compared to its famed rivals. These limitations include the lack of transit navigation and support for indoor maps of airports, shopping malls and other places of interest in Google and Apple Maps.
MapQuest also does not give you the ability to navigate or download offline maps that can be a significant handicap when visiting a location with poor mobile service. Nor does the app come with its own version of Street View, which may limit your perspective.
MapQuest does not have the Picture In Picture mode, which can limit multitasking even though navigation prompts are still displayed in your phone. Despite these drawbacks, MapQuest is still a viable option for overland travel and overseas travel – it has a clean and easy-to-understand interface that lets you easily interact. This is all you need to get from place to place.
As you can see in the graphic above, Google Maps has pushed competition, mainly due to the variety of features and the balance between usability and usability. That does not mean that the other three apps are not free. On the contrary, all of these apps have remarkable features that have undoubtedly contributed to their popularity.
Apple Maps is probably easier to reach with the iPhone because only the right features are available. Waze hingegen ist eher auf die Fahrer ausgerichtet und eignet sich ideal für längere Autotouren. MapQuest und seine zahlreichen Überlagerungsoptionen machen es zur idealen Wahl für alle, die Ablenkungen auf ein Minimum reduzieren möchten. Welches ist deine bevorzugte App, um herumzukommen? Teilen Sie Ihre Gedanken in den folgenden Kommentaren mit.
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