It’s been a long time since navigation technology was confined to an expensive dedicated satnav device – now you can get detailed maps, turn-by-turn directions and live traffic updates on your phone.
Apple Maps and Google Maps may be the two biggest names when it comes to mapping apps, but look a little further and you’ll find alternatives with features to rival them, and a few tricks that they can’t manage. Some of the apps here also offer offline navigation, which is great if you’re off hiking and need help wayfinding.
Here’s our pick of the best GPS apps for iPhone owners. (You’ll probably need an iPhone car mount, so here are the best.)
When it launched back in 2012 to replace Google Maps as iOS’s default mapping app, Apple Maps was met with sceptical hesitation. Skip past some initial disasters, such as people supposedly driving into ravines while listening to Maps (not the app’s fault), and you’ll find today’s version of the app is excellent – particularly the Flyover feature, which allows you to view detailed 3D structures to help orientate yourself.
Everything you’d expect from a navigation app is here: turn-by-turn instructions, live traffic info and clear, detailed driving/walking instructions. You can trust in Apple to get you from A to B (finally).
Along with Apple Maps this is surely the most used and most reputable navigation app out there. Before Apple made its own app, Google Maps was on the iPhone from Day One in 2007 and continues to integrate well with iPhones – but there’s no way to set it as the default mapping app.
You can also use Google Maps for offline navigation. Here’s how.
If you want to find out how the two big GPS apps stack up, read our Apple Maps vs Google Maps comparison review.Read our full Google Maps for iPhone review
Waze is a cool alternative to Apple and Google, and its main draw is its community of users. By using the app you’re contributing real-time traffic information, and can also manually report road accidents, police cordons and other journey-ruining stuff.
The app lets you find out useful things like where to get cheap fuel on your route or more standard functions like automatic rerouting. If helping your fellow driver rather than shouting at them is your thing, get on board with Waze.
Citymapper doesn’t offer turn-by-turn navigation instructions or traffic updates, so if you’ve got your own car it might not be ideal.
However, if you live in one of the major cities covered by the app and regularly use public transport, it could be a lifesaver. It compares journey times for walking, cycling, public transport and taxis, and also factors in fare information and rough calorie counts.
Best of all, it’s updated with real-time service information, giving you info on delays on your route faster than almost any other map app. The only downside? That means it can’t cover everywhere, so check your city is one of the ones covered, but if you live in a major metropolis with complex public transport, it’s probably on the list.
You can also save journeys and see train schedules even when offline. See Citymapper for details on how to do this.
The Nokia-developed HERE WeGo is another app that boasts offline navigation – you download maps for offline use, as well as getting turn-by-turn directions without an internet connection. This works well, and better than some rivals.
It’s also got a good journey-planning function that you can even do on your computer to load on to your phone if you’re planning a big trip on a big screen. HERE WeGo is a worthy road companion.
Sygic GPS Navigation & Maps
Sygic GPS Navigation and Maps is a great option for iPhone that lets you navigate without internet access. It offers 3D offline maps and voice-guided GPS directions, points out places of interest, and provides driving and traffic data to make your journey safer.
Other useful features include live information about parking availability and pricing, and speeding camera warnings – not that you should be speeding anyway!
Navmii GPS Offline Navigation and Traffic
Navmii is another great alternative to the mainstream mapping and direction apps. It offers voice-guided navigation so you can keep your eyes on the road at important points of your journey, and also has offline maps for those times you stray out of signal’s reach.
It integrates with other popular apps such as TripAdvisor for advice on where to eat and stay on the road, and has onboard OpenStreetMap maps that are stored on the phone – so if you run out of data, you might not get lost after all.