The best turn-by-turn navigation app is the one that keeps you from driving into a lake á la Michael Scott.
The old joke is that men hate stopping and asking for directions, but the truth is that no one likes to. It takes you out of your way and wastes precious time while some yokel argues with another yokel about the fastest route. Download an awesome turn-by-turn navigation app and skip the awkward conversation with a stranger.
Google Maps offers driving, transit, biking, and walking directions in hundreds of countries around the world. All four types of transit also support voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, and it's all free. If you like to have options, Google Maps is one of the best when it comes to showing lots of routes, especially for transit, complete with ETAs. Since Google is one of the most complete search engines in the world, it's hands down the best when it comes to searching for businesses and attractions across the globe.
If you want to be able to search points of interest, Google Maps provides the most accurate results. It's also hard to beat in terms of public transit.
- Free - Download Now
Maps is built into every iPhone. That means it's the default when tapping on map links inside other apps, works flawlessly in the background, and can continue giving you updates even on the Lock screen. While Apple Maps may not have as much data as Google, it gets better and better with time. So, if all you need are directions from here to there, it gets the job done. iOS 10 had also added a complete redesign and hooked apps right into Maps. That lets you book a reservation or request a ride right from Maps!
Apple Maps has indeed steered me and many of us wrong the odd time, but for Siri integration and seamlessness in your user experience, built-in is always a great way to go (until Siri starts using Google Maps too!).
- Free - Built into iOS
Waze, which was acquired by Google in 2013, is a crowd-sourced maps and navigation app that uses travel data from you and people just like you in order to provide real-time information on the quickest routes. If your friends are using Waze, you can connect with them and, if you're going to the same place, you'll see when they'll arrive. Turn-by-turn navigation with Waze is also absolutely free and Waze can even help you find the cheapest gas station while driving.
The best part of Waze is the ability to add points of interest for others to see on the map. If there's a speed trap up ahead, you can add it to the app to alert fellow drivers. If there's a traffic jam, you can let other drivers know why when you drive by the source. Waze really lets you look out for your fellow motorist, which I know seems like a foreign concept, but wouldn't the world be a better place if it wasn't?
- Free - Download Now
MAPS.ME has over 8,200 reviews in the App Store, and over 7,000 of those are 4 or 5 stars (6,993 are 5-star!). You get access to reliable, detailed offline maps that provide turn-by-turn navigation, as well as directions to points of interest, and you can save locations as bookmarks to share with friends.
The best part of MAPS.ME is that developer My.com is dedicated to keeping all the app's features free of charge. In fact, part of the app description reads, "All maps inside and all features are free. Always were and will always be." That's reassuring and a nice touch in this age of "freemium" content.
Search different categories (restaurants, tourist destinations, hotels, etc.), share your location via text or social media, and even make hotel bookings on Booking.com right in the app. MAPS.ME is more than turn-by-turn navigation; it's an excellent travel companion.
Remember that offline maps means they need to be downloaded, so don't get caught without an internet connection and no maps either.
- Free - Download now
The CoPilot app can be just that for you. It features reliable offline GPS so that you're not using up data on the road or missing out on navigation when you hit dead zones. The latest version has been completely overhauled with a new look and more comprehensive features.
If you want voice navigation or traffic alerts and reports, you'll have to pay for them, but if directions are all you need, then you'll do fine with the free stuff. '
You can also choose to pay for region-specific HD apps that start around $10. These are more comprehensive and tailored to their specific area. Again, though, if navigation is all you need, the free version is excellent.
Just keep in mind that offline maps means you have to download them, and some can be upwards of a couple GB.
- Free, with in-app purchases - Download now
Scout by Telenav
Scout by Telenav is available to anyone in the United States and aside from offering free turn-by-turn voice guided navigation, Scout is great at helping you find things to do no matter where you are. Points of interest that Scout things you'll find interesting will show up on the map as you're driving. If you're in a big city, Scout can even show you the rates at different parking garages near you so you know you're getting the best deal. You can even search for things before you start your journey and mark things on your route. If you need offline maps, you can purchase them via in-app purchase for a one time fee. If you don't need them, all the other features of Scout are free to use.
If you're in the United States and want voice guided navigation that can double as a personal concierge of sorts, Scout by Telenav is a great option.
- Free with IAP - Download Now
Sygic comes with the ability to download free offline maps in over 100 countries. With these, you get route planning guidance, information on thousands of points of interest across the globe, and free map updates. If you'd like 3D maps, turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation, lane guidance, speed limit warnings, and more, you can upgrade to one of many different map packages via in-app purchase. You will receive a free trial of the premium version for 7 days so you can try out voice guided navigation before deciding to buy. All maps are powered by TomTom and don't need an internet connection in order to work after they're downloaded. Other premium options available are speed camera warnings, heads-up display views, and much more.
If offline maps are important to you, Sygic offers a ton at no cost to you, but you'll need to pay for turn-by-turn navigation. Many other features are also available a la carte via in-app purchase so you can customize your experience the way you like.
- Free with IAP - Download Now
Do you use a navigation app on your iPhone? Or, do you still use "old school" GPS devices? Let us know your picks in the comments below!