You’ll be hard pressed to find a person alive who hasn’t heard of either Google or Apple Maps, but when it comes to navigation apps, are these really our only options? Not at all! There’s a huge list of GPS apps available at the Play and App Stores, but some of them are better left on the digital shelf than others. Make sure you take only the top-rated apps out for a test drive on your phone. We’ve compiled a convenient inventory of the best map applications for iPhones and Androids, so you can get from A to B without any problems.
Though it was purchased by Google in 2013, Waze continues to be a separate entity to this day so it’s staying on the list. And a good thing, too, as it’s one of the best apps a driver can ask for. It puts the power of its community to good use, letting it’s over 50 million users contribute real-time warnings about traffic, incidents, police presence, accidents, and speed cameras. On top of that, it offers an efficient look at your city’s roads, but it fails those who prefer to walk or take transit. It does, however, get bonus points for having the cutest logo.
To be fair to Apple, its app has come a long way in the last several years. In 2012 when Apple Maps was first launched, the app was riddled with glitches. Seemingly overnight it became the subject of several memes, capitalizing on the surrealist street views and terrible directions. Five years later, the tech giant has made considerable progress, but literally anything could have been better than its original debut. It’s pretty good at integrating public transit and traffic alerts, but it still has trouble with pedestrian navigation and route recalculation. Combined with a few stubborn map flaws, it’s still no Google Maps.
If you’re a closet meteorologist, you’ll want to download InRoute, the only navigation app that pairs its maps with interactive weather charts. It also provides surprising details of your route, letting you interact with charts presenting the roads’ elevations and curves. InRoute also lets you adjust your trip and accommodate layovers, making it one of the more road-trip friendly apps available. Unfortunately, most of these fun features come at a cost, and the overall app lacks basic support for transit and pedestrian travel.
BackCountry Navigator GPS Pro
It’s unlikely you’ll use this app every day, but it deserves a spot on the list just for what it does for the avid camper and hiker. BackCountry Navigator comes at a cost (a whopping $9.99) but that price tag gets you access to a variety of topographical maps that don’t rely on service or Internet to view. That means you’ll never lose your way just because you don’t have data, and you’ll always know the elevation and severity of the route you’re taking. It also comes with several features like geocaching, waypoints, and outdoorsy tips to help you along the way.
As one of the only maps you can rely on out on the muddy cliff side, we suggest wrapping your Android or iPhone in a grime- and water-resistant skin to make sure it lasts the entire trek. While BackCountry can help you navigate through your first portage of the season, it won’t save your iPhone from wear and tear; but the minds at the dbrand offices have created an application that will stop scratches, scrapes, and grim from damaging your important navigation system. Not sure if your old Android or iPhone would have a skin? Check out which dbrand custom skins are available. You’re bound to find the iPhone skin that fits your generation.
Though it’s not perfect, Google Maps is here at the bottom because we’re saving the best for last. Unlike most on this list, it’s able to provide reliable, real-time info for a variety of transportation methods, including public transit, walking, and cycling. It’s also one of the most accurate GPS apps for driving conditions and route efficiency. It’s set upto accommodate voice searches, voice directions, notifications, and distance units. Like its desktop version, the app comes equipped with the ability to show your map in different views like terrain, satellite, and traffic. It’s also the only navigation map to offer up views of the insides of restaurants, stores, and museums lining the streets.
So maybe there’s a reason why everyone has heard of Google Maps. There may be a time and place for Waze or BackCountry, but Google is by far the best everyday application. It offers up the best experience for the largest number of travelling methods for the low, low cost of free. Do you agree? Let us know if you think we’ve made the right decision, or if you think another app deserves a place on this list. And please, no closeted Apple Maps fans need apply.