I have used this FREE app for a couple of years now on my iPhone. I love it soooooooo much that I thought it would be a good idea to post this article and recommend that everyone get this immediately if they haven’t done so yet! It is available on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. Enjoy!!!
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The Best Turn-by-Turn Navigation App for iPhone
The iPhone, being without a built-in turn-by-turn navigations app, has found itself with a number of third-party options. We’ve test a lot of them and found the best to be Waze, the free socially-aware app with live traffic and plenty of other awesome features.
- Free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation
- Easy location search
- Live traffic updates
- Live accident reports
- Live updates of speed trap cameras and police locations
- Foursquare, Twitter & Facebook integrations
- Cute icons
Waze provides pretty good turn-by-turn directions, with an automated voice that tells you where to go and a very subtle sound effect to let you know when you messed up and the route is being recalculated. At first I was disappointed by how subtle this sound actually was, but after testing many apps I’m just happy it exists. For a reason I don’t understand, most of the turn-by-turn navigation apps don’t alert you that the route is being recalculated. It just happens and tells you where to go next as if you didn’t mess up at all. Personally, I like to know, and I appreciate that Waze provides a notification even if it is a little shy about it.
Although Waze’s navigation skills are very serviceable, it really shines with its live traffic and other data provided by other users of the app. When I was out testing the app I noticed a policeman in a McDonald’s parking lot who ended up going the same arbitrary route I was going for awhile, to the point where I thought they were following me until I pulled over out of paranoia. I took this opportunity to look at the Waze screen and that police car’s location was reported on the map. Additionally, the map showed the current traffic on various streets—not just highways—and where I could expect accidents. I was surprised by the level of accuracy. Waze really demonstrates how well crowd-sourcing can work.
Waze is also the only app we tested that makes it really easy to find a particular location. It can search your address book, Google, and several other places to get you the address you need. Alternatively, you can just input the address if you already know it. Every other app made accessing some information difficult (particularly your built-in address book) or didn’t even allow it, which is very frustrating. Fortunately, Waze got this right.
When I tested out an early version of Waze in the past, I didn’t like it that much. I felt like it didn’t work that well and was kind of difficult to use. Over the past year or so Waze has come a long way. It’s an excellent turn-by-turn navigation app that would be worth its price—if it had one.
At first it seemed like Waze had some very notable issues, but then I realized I wasn’t really paying much attention to the app and missed some obvious features. After spending more time with Waze, I find it hard to find a complaint. If anything, it could be a bit more responsive. Its turn-by-turn directions weren’t always as quick or as clear as they could be, but they weren’t confusing. For example, Waze could mention the street name more often. Generally it just says “turn right” rather than “turn right on Awesome Avenue.” Personally, I’d prefer it was more descriptive more often, but that’s a small gripe that isn’t necessarily shared by everyone.
Navigon USA ($30 + $14 for live traffic), popular GPS maker Garmin’s addition to the turn-by-turn navigation app pool, was very good. It offers a live traffic option (for a price) and maps you can pre-download. The pre-downloading of maps is a little annoying at first, because it takes awhile, but it seems to allow the app to operate much faster than apps that download information on the fly (like Waze). Of every app tested, Navigon was the fastest to respond with driving directions and was consistently telling me where to go with plenty of advance notice. The automated voice was also one of the best. The problem with Navigon, however, is that it’s really only better than Waze in that regard and on-par with Waze when it comes to traffic and general directions. Waze provides for free what Navigon prices at $44, so it’s hard to recommend that as a better option. While none of the GPS apps make it simple enough to quickly find the location and get directions (like the built-in Maps app does), Waze was much faster. Navigon required quite a few taps to get started each time. That said, if you don’t like Waze and want a paid app with pre-downloaded maps, Navigon is a good choice.
Garmin North America ($50) is also pretty good. It costs more, but the amount of time it takes to figure out to decide where you’re going and start the navigation is much faster than it is with Navigon. Maps are built-in to the app download so once you have the app it is ready to go. You can purchase live traffic for $15, bringing the total app cost up to $65. It’s pricey, but the user interface and experience is a step up and the rest of the app is pretty similar in quality to Navigon. It’s also a good choice if you want to shell out some money, although we have a hard time recommending the cost when the free options you have are pretty solid.
Gokivo Navigator (Free) is a good free alternative. It’s very simple—you just input where you want to go and it navigates you there. When I intentionally missed turns to see what it would do, it reacted pretty quickly and tried to get me on the right route. When I went in the wrong direction it had trouble keeping up with me, however, telling me to run right on every street I passed but not getting the words out in time. To be fair, however, I was trying to make it mess up. Overall Gokivo held its own and provided solid navigation. If you’re not into Waze or spending any money, Gokivo is worth a look.
Navfree GPS Live USA (Free) is the only free option we tested that requires map downloads in advance. This isn’t necessarily a downside, as having the data in your phone ahead of time can make loading the maps a little bit faster. What slowed things down, however, was Navfree’s user interface. It feels like a GPS rather than an app. You have to tap a lot of icons and give it a lot of specific information before you can get going. Just inputting everything was unnecessarily frustrating. Navfree is also ad-supported, which is reasonable because they’re giving you a free navigation app, but ads are harder to deal with on navigation apps because screen real estate is especially important. It’s a serviceable free option, but definitely not the best.
MapQuest 4 Mobile (Free) was my favorite free turn-by-turn navigation app in the past, but using it again now was surprisingly disappointing. While it provided decent navigation, for the most part, as soon as I missed a turn it just completely gave up. I do remember it being slow to react when I tested it in the past, but either I didn’t remember how slow it actually is or it has gotten worse. Either way, you have multiple free options that are a better choice so I’d pass on MapQuest for now.
Note: Despite our best efforts to get review copies, we were unable to test Tom Tom, AT&T Navigator, and CoPilot Live USA. It should be noted that these apps were not considered in our evaluation because we couldn’t test them.
Article taken from lifehacker