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Where am I, and how do I get out of here? I have an interview in 30 minutes, and I have no idea where I’m going! Great, the road is closed — what now?

In all of these situations, it’s a good thing your phone is an ever-present GPS device How GPS Works [MakeUseOf Explains] How GPS Works [MakeUseOf Explains] As an avid gamer, I’m surprised by the correlation between GPS-like features in modern video games and the proliferation of GPS technology in mundane life. When I was a kid, paper maps and cartography were... Read More just waiting at your beck and call. But its guidance is only as good as the navigation app you have installed. So I’ve taken a look at some of the best options you can find on Google Play. Here’s my experience behind the wheel with each.

1) Google Maps

Most of the time, I use Google Maps. It’s free, the directions are accurate, and I find the voices easy to follow without getting lost. It comes pre-installed on Android devices that ship with access to the Play Store, and it’s heavily integrated with Google’s other services.

This makes it easy to open an event in my calendar and start driving to the destination without having to manually enter the details a second time into Maps. The app also plays along nicely with the website, allowing you to enter in locations from the comfort of a desktop Navigating With A Phone? Use Google Maps On The Desktop to Plan Ahead Navigating With A Phone? Use Google Maps On The Desktop to Plan Ahead Google Maps can sync your recent searches, allowing you to enter a destination on the Google Maps website, then pick up your phone and head out the door. Read More .

But Maps isn’t without its pitfalls. For one, the interface changes regularly (just think back to how it used to look The Top 3 Free Offline GPS Apps For Android The Top 3 Free Offline GPS Apps For Android Google Navigation for Android is one of the best map solutions you can get in the palm of your hand, but what if you don’t have a data connection? Whether you’re traveling abroad, using a... Read More  several years ago), changing where things are located and requiring me to relearn behavior I could previously do from muscle memory. It’s not uncommon for software to change, but when it comes to an app that you’re using in the car, it helps not to have to rediscover how to do things.

AndroidGPSApps-Google-Maps

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While Maps downloads all the map data necessary for a trip when starting up, it can’t reroute without a connection to the Internet. It does allow you to store a specific area for a limited time, but there’s no ability to download all map data to your Android device. This is what I would consider the app’s largest limitation and the reason I feel a need to check out what else is out there.

Download: Google Maps for Android (Free)

2) Nokia HERE

Nokia HERE has gone through multiple name changes over the years. For a while it went by the name Ovi Maps, then briefly Nokia Maps, before becoming what it is today Battles Could Be Fought Over Maps As Nokia Announces Its Own Map Technology Called HERE [Updates] Battles Could Be Fought Over Maps As Nokia Announces Its Own Map Technology Called HERE [Updates] It’s called ‘HERE’, and it could be the next big thing in the mapping firmament. Just to prove that you can still count on Nokia as a big game player, the Finish mobile giant has... Read More . It’s only been publicly available for all Android devices for a handful of months.

I find HERE’s interface to be remarkably straightforward. It’s easy to navigate, with nearly everything tucked away into a single sidebar.

AndroidGPSApps-Here

HERE’s maps are free to download, though you must create an account in order to do so. Data is organized by continent, and while you can store most of the globe on your device, you probably won’t be able to fit much else if you do. North American alone requires nearly 7GB. Europe is even larger at over 9GB. Fortunately you can get individual states and countries for just several hundred megabytes.

The app’s default voice didn’t pronounce everything correctly, but I found it easy to follow. Alternative voices are available for download at around 40-60MB each, and like the Maps, they’re free.

I haven’t driven with HERE extensively, but from my initial impressions and its excellent price (or lack thereof), it seems like an easy recommendation.

Download: Nokia HERE for Android (Free)

3) Sygic

Sygic is pricey. You can download the app and start driving around for free, but it won’t be long before you need to part with money.

The full set of maps comes priced at $139.99. You can buy individual continents or countries at a time, but rarely does the price of each dip below $30, even with the sales that come around often.

AndroidGPSApps-Sygic

That’s not all. Individual features also cost money, and some require yearly subscriptions. This app, put bluntly, is an investment.

Why? This is what Sygic does for a living. The company exclusively makes navigation apps for mobile devices. That’s it. It’s not part of a larger tech organization, one that sees providing maps as a necessary part of producing a competitive mobile operating system Is Apple Maps a Reliable Navigator Yet? Is Apple Maps a Reliable Navigator Yet? After replacing Google's navigation, Apple Maps endured a rocky start, heaps of criticism and some very funny jokes – but has all been forgiven? Read More . So it has to find a way to stay profitable. It also contains detailed maps of areas that certain competitors lack, especially outside of Europe and North America.

Unfortunately, I find Sygic’s voice instructions and directions confusing, taking me on less direct routes and causing me to miss turns. Even after the recent redesign, I find entering an address and searching for businesses to be more awkward than I like (the experience feels more like a dedicated GPS unit or in-car navigation system than a smartphone app).

Sygic is also dense with options, so don’t dive into the settings area unless you want to hang out there for a while. But at the same time, that’s also a good reason to spend some time getting to know the app. You could probably tweak it to feel just right (I couldn’t, but your needs may differ from mine).

Download: Sygic for Android (7-Day Free Trial)

4) Waze

Waze is a navigation app, but it’s also a social network Waze: A Social GPS For Your Daily Commute [iOS] Waze: A Social GPS For Your Daily Commute [iOS] Out of all the navigation apps that are currently on the market, Waze may very well have the best concept. The only catch is that it doesn't have a "big name" backing it (like Google... Read More . Users share real-time traffic information, routes, and gas prices to improve each other’s driving experiences. You can take part in the comradery, or you can simply use the app to get you from one place to another.

If you’re going with the latter choice, Waze does a good job. The app directions are easy to follow, and routes can sometimes be more accurate due to feedback and input from real people. You also have the cool ability to see friends’ estimated arrival time when you’re heading to the same place. Just know that you’ve giving up the ability to download maps, as that would mean sacrificing all of the social features that Waze is all about.

AndroidGPSApps-Waze

But there is one thing I must point out. Waze is the sole app on this list that tossed up an ad while I was driving. Sure, it was trying to get me to download a Waze-specific feature (celebrity voices), but that was a hugely unnecessary distraction. I don’t appreciate ads in my apps in general. I especially don’t want them popping up while I’m behind the wheel.

And just a quick note: Waze is owned by Google. So while it’s an alternative to Google Maps, it also kind of isn’t. How much that matters is entirely up to you.

Download: Waze for Android (Free)

Honorable Mentions

Consider this more of a primer than a comprehensive look at Android’s navigation tools. I haven’t said much about which app has the best selection of places of interest (POIs) or which offers the most accurate real-time traffic. Frankly, there’s just too much to tackle all at once.

So with that said, there are a number of other navigation apps in the Play Store that may be well worth your consideration. Navfree and MapFactor are both two free options that utilize OpenStreetMaps data to steer you around (I’ve had mixed results here, but both have over 10 million installs). There’s also MapQuest, Navmii, and Telenav Scout. When it comes to GPS apps, it’s good to try out a bunch for yourself. You never know which one will appeal to you most.

Which is Best for You?

The answer to that is a big, unsatisfying, it depends. A GPS solution may work great in my corner of the world, but its support could be nearly non-existent in yours. No matter how good a navigation app is, it’s useless if it doesn’t have your area mapped out.

Google Maps is great in the US and other Western countries, but its support varies as you go elsewhere. It also doesn’t let you download everything for offline use, creating an opening for competitors to step in. Sygic is more than happy to fill in the cracks, but it’s going to cost you. Nokia, on the other hand, will take a swing at it for free and is your best choice for offline maps.

If you’re relying on an app to guide you through busy streets and open roads, which one do you trust? This list isn’t all-encompassing, so if I left an app off that you swear by, please share your experience in the comments below.

Image Credits: world map Via Shutterstock

  1. Ken
    July 24, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    I'm a user of Waze. Granted that there are ads which pop up. However, they are not a distraction as they only appear when at a complete stop. It also does not block any directional information. Once you hit the gas, the ad immediately goes away. It's not that big a deal (at least to me it isn't). The real time information provided by other drivers has kept me from getting stuck on the interstate and being late to work.
    It also features current speed and speed limits. I like the fact that maps are updated very quickly. When a new bridge opened up in my area, the map instantly navigated over it.

  2. Jeff Penver
    July 24, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I used Here driving through France because the speed alerts were handy and you can change the storage of downloaded maps to use the SD card. I found some roads were wrong in Spain though. I switched back to Google after getting stuck on dead end roads twice!

    • bukzin
      October 3, 2016 at 5:11 am

      Which of these apps shows max speed limit as you travel? Anyone know about HERE?

      Thx

    • bukzin
      October 3, 2016 at 5:13 am

      Which of these apps show current speed limit as your tracel?

    • bukzin
      October 3, 2016 at 5:14 am

      Which of these apps show speed limits as you travel?

  3. Diane
    April 5, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Here maps, my hubby as Google which was playing up. Got my phone out (Nokia 830), within seconds found were we was and got us home. It's free and works every time.
    We use it it to find places on foot, car etc never loosed us down.

    • Jeff
      July 24, 2016 at 11:57 am

      I really have no idea what you just said.

  4. Kills
    February 12, 2016 at 9:32 am

    HERE maps is bad, no custom route, very few options given for routes usually and half of the times none at all, no POI except gas stations... Still years if not decades behind Sygic for offline navigation...

  5. Mike
    December 22, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I really like google maps but I wish they had tow things my Garmin GPS has.

    1. Speed limit on the road I am traveling.
    2. Speed I am traveling.

    If I had these tow features I might never use my GPS again.

  6. edgar swift swift
    August 30, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vedmobile.sendtonavigation

    This application lets you send Google Maps™ search results to your favorite navigation app only one click.

    [img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Y29m74CEh6rF9hcNXJDDYg7WhD3Qjexp0-7wIcxXKuMe9TFtYCIWhcASNFrLb_kKIy8=h300-rw[/img]

  7. denis sorn
    May 30, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Actually Sygic is free. Strange you haven't noticed it, but that is probably because they are always trying to sell something. You can use it without restrictions with offline maps. All maps are free. Other features like traffic control, speed cameras and few others are not free. Sygic wasn't free, actually at first some 5-6 years ago IIRC it was free, than for few years, or longer actually it wasn't, and then since year or so it has become free again. That being said I'm far away from being satisfied with it. And I have paid for it, and I was also using some extra features like traffic control and extra speed speed cameras, where they supposedly follow mobile cameras. Never had any use of these services because they do not update that often. Maps do not update often as Google maps, and most important thing of all mentioned here is that Sygic usually doesn't work. I have 3 high end android phones at home, currently one running custom ROM other two stock Samsung ROMs, and you know what... Sygic doesn't work on any of them. It actually works for a very short time and then crashes. This started happening approx 6 month ago, and is current situation. Google Maps are nice, clean interface, easy to use. They add useful stuff quickly, update maps, and react on user reports quite fast. 'Here' app looks even better but I still have to test it

  8. Kathy
    May 8, 2015 at 5:23 am

    I'm reading a lot of complaints about changes that were made to the Google Navigation app on the site of productforum.com . I know it doesn't look like it use to the last time I asked for directions. I'm looking for an accurate, user friendly voice navigation app for android for traveling in the US.

  9. Felis Leo
    April 14, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Tried a number of maps. Best of the lot will be Google maps which of course needs DATA connection often, and the second will be Maps.me which is truly offline.

  10. james
    March 31, 2015 at 8:24 am

    I like OsmAnd, it's perfect.

  11. Dinesh
    March 11, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Yes!! Your way of putting all awesome apps in one place is good Idea. I never used these fantastic apps. Right now I am going to install waze apps. I really thankful to you.

  12. James
    March 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Wife and I are taking dual sport motorcycles to Mexico for a week long honeymoon. Can't use CoPilot as it has no Mexican maps!? Seriously? I used Nokia's navigation many years ago on one of their phones and loved it. Looks like we'll be using Nokia HERE!

  13. David
    March 8, 2015 at 4:02 am

    Sygic is a great app on my phone and tablet. No internet required. Not too costly for Australia and New Zealand. Head up display and all.. Great app.

  14. Ehsan
    March 7, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Try City Maps 2 go Offline

  15. Philip Le Mare
    March 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    GPS Copilot with its pay for download maps does very well for me

  16. Denyslav
    March 7, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I use Copilot. I've been using it for years with no complaints. Native language, whole Europe map few GB and in city navigation.

  17. Joe S.
    March 7, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Waze ads only come up when you're sitting still, I use it 1400 miles every week.

  18. Heyoka
    March 7, 2015 at 11:12 am

    How come I don't see OsmAnd listed? It should deserve honorable mention, at least...

    • Praveen
      March 7, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      OsmAnd is awesome..... only thing I found is:

      It doesn't give shortest route like Google.
      Also doesn't provide alternate routes.
      Further can't save routes.

  19. Al Cro
    March 7, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I've found the FREE Navigator Mapfactor to be very useful. The maps are downloadable, and can be used offline, so you don't require an active data/internet connection (that can vary or drop out when travelling).
    It uses OpenStreetMaps and seems to offer updates fairly frequently which I usually do at home over my wifi - that's the only time I have seen an advert, I think.

  20. Jeff Penver
    March 7, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I used Google navigator riding motorbike and found the voice directions great. Now I have it in the car on a cheap nexus 7. You don't need a data connection all of the time, so you don't miss turns, but I live in a mobile dead zone so have to set up my route before I leave the home WiFi coverage. The new lane guidance is a welcome addition. Like most sat navs it sometimes takes us down a crazy road just to save a few miles!

  21. Edward Amarille
    March 7, 2015 at 8:01 am

    I used to solely use google maps, then jumped onto Nokia here. I prefer here maps because of offline use, speed limit zones (though some need updating), a light beep (at least over Bluetooth) when I am going over speed limit, and is more accurate in rural areas.

  22. Michel
    March 7, 2015 at 7:12 am

    TomTom is the best navigation app for android

    • AriesWarlock
      March 22, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Then you haven't tried Nokia HERE yet :)

    • pierre
      September 12, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      So far, this is correct
      Ive tried all free and paid for many.

      Nokia HERE is ok, but its'keep left' instead of 'take the exit' is damn frustrating - i regularly keep left ont he motorway only to miss my junction

      Trying sygic next as its now only 24.99 euros for LIFE - whereas tomtom has cost me £34.99 for three years (still good as its the besT).

      If you drive a lot, invest.

  23. Anonymous
    March 7, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Yandex maps is a good alternative with live traffic data

  24. sunil
    March 7, 2015 at 5:59 am

    HERE maps is the Best free navigating app. Better than many paid apps. It could charge some to provide and improve on additional features like rerouting and adding way points, saving the route etc.
    If you don't want to buy a separate navigating device then this app is the best.

  25. Steve Clayton
    March 7, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Waze has one feature I have yet to find anywhere else - I can send a link to my family, friends, boss or clients that allows them to see my location, route and ETA in real time. As I am in a highly time-sensitive transportation industry, this feature is highly important to me!

    • sunil
      March 7, 2015 at 6:00 am

      You can download glympse and do the same

  26. David Schindler
    March 7, 2015 at 2:56 am

    A couple of notes :
    Here guides pretty well, but doesn't tell me what side of the road my destination is on. A simple 'You have arrived' is all. When I'm driving to an unknown place, especially in the dark, it's much more helpful to hear at which side to look.

    WAZE is good, but is a HUGE battery hound, and it keeps running after you think you closed it.

  27. David LaPointe
    March 7, 2015 at 2:30 am

    The best part of Waze is the user reported accidents and speed traps. I use it every day commuting to work.

  28. Jim D.
    March 7, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Take a serious look at CoPilot. Available for iOS, Droid & Windows. Download maps have POI to device and then needs only GPS signal for nav. Very reasonably price and very accurate. Do have trial.

  29. Lucas lamonda
    March 7, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Copilot is what I've used for the last 3 years.... There is an initial cost of 20 - 30 bucks but unlimited upgrades and updates and it's all offline, North America only takes up about 2GB..... Highly reccomend

    • Markxs
      March 7, 2015 at 4:12 am

      Ditto. We use copilot's preferences to stay of highway, secondary and local roads only, to explore the countryside when we are on excursions. One thing it does better than Google maps is points is interest along route. Highly recommend also.

    • blulynx
      March 26, 2015 at 2:59 am

      Loved copilot until recently. Now it frequently directs me to totally different address or can't find the address I'm trying to enter.

  30. Frank
    March 6, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Sygic is no where near that price you said.
    And the trial is 30 days and come with a lot.
    So don't put any bs price in there.

  31. Praveen
    March 6, 2015 at 12:25 am

    I have used all top apps (more than 10) available for Android.

    The better of them so far is Google Maps. Basic reasons to give thumbs up:
    1. Doesn't crash.
    2. Provides alternatives routes to destination, importantly the shortest route.

    Best if:
    1. Provides Offline map feature (along with search & navigation)

    • sunil
      March 7, 2015 at 6:06 am

      cannot rely on online maps as it depends on data network availabilty and in the traffic you could easily miss a crucial turn. Here maps is the best i feel.
      The route shown may not be the shortest all the times but the routes can be checked once and compared if the travelling distance is too long.
      please try and comment

    • sunil
      March 7, 2015 at 6:06 am

      Here maps

    • Praveen
      March 7, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Trick to use Google maps WITHOUT consuming DATA (which worked for me):

      Download offline google maps (valid for 1 month) in 2 -3 parts which can cover more than 300 km. Initiate the navigation with DATA ON. Once navigation started, switch OFF DATA. The navigation will work throughout your journey without data.

  32. buddyholly
    March 5, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Nokia HERE is the best. Offline navigation.

    • Keith
      May 23, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Loved HERE, until it took me out of my to get to something that was straight ahead. Plus CM Security reports it as a threat.

  33. Ezra
    March 5, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    I use Wikimapia.org on my Windows laptop to learn about cities. The site has millions of placemarked landmarks.

  34. Rick
    March 5, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Google Maps is my number one choice, but if I need to start navigation when I am offline I use OSMAnd Maps and Navigation. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.osmand&hl=en

    They aren't always as accurate and informative as Google, but the free version lets you download maps for 10 states for free and the $6 paid version has no limit. You can create favorites, enter coordinates, and more. It even does a few things Google Maps doesn't like tell you your speed - and it can even give you a warning if you go over the speed limit by a certain amount. Definitely handy to have installed with a few maps if you spend much time in areas without a cell signal.

    • AriesWarlock
      March 22, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Try Nokia HERE. You can download all the maps you want for free. Also, Nokia owns Navteq. Which is the company that supplies Garmin and other GPS makers with their maps. So, you got pretty accurate maps :)

  35. fernando
    March 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    I use 'Locus Map'

  36. Dan
    March 5, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Igo and Navigon. Best apps for Android

    • AriesWarlock
      March 22, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Then you haven't tried Nokia HERE yet :)

  37. Matt
    March 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I love Waze but my biggest complaint is that it doesn't know how to perform a U-Turn. It will take you miles out of your way just to turn you around.

  38. Doctor0710
    March 5, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    MAPS.ME is another good one, lightweight, easy to understand interface and supports offline maps. I used it a lot on foot though, not in a car.

    • AriesWarlock
      March 22, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      I tried Maps.me, and it's good. I like Nokia HERE a little more though.

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