Getting around can sometimes be a real pain in the rear. Unexpected delays, traffic, and road closures are a daily hassle, and if you’re going out into the world unprepared then you’re inviting frustration into your life.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are apps that will do the hard work for you, whether that’s scanning the road ahead and informing you of road changes, or letting you know ahead of time that there’s heavy traffic and you should leave early. We’ve brought together some of the best navigation apps for both Android and iOS, so while you’re keeping an eye on the road, your phone can be handling everything else. While you’re at it, check out our list of the best car chargers too.
Google Maps (free)
This couldn’t be a list of the top navigation apps if we didn’t include Google Maps. Google has photographed and mapped most of the globe and is constantly updating its databases to add new roads, bypasses, and even update the images on Google Street View. It includes a navigation mode that’s simple to set up and allows for multiple stops and pit stops along the way, it shows live traffic as you travel and helps you to avoid those troublesome hot spots, and it even has an offline mode so you can save the maps you need for later, without using your precious data. It’s not just about navigation either — once you reach your location it can also recommend places to eat, drink, or stay, based on your needs. Available on iOS and included by default on most Android phones, it’s hard to beat Google Maps. As you’d expect, it also works with Android Auto.
Apple Maps (free)
Apple Maps is your default option when you use an iOS device, but like Google Maps, that doesn’t mean it’s a subpar experience. Apple Maps offers all the basic navigation features you’d expect but expands its remit by offering travel suggestions based on your previous activity or based on events in your calendar. It displays all the nearest bars or restaurants, based on your searches or the simple “nearby” command. When you’re actually on-the-move, it makes sure you know which lane you’re supposed to be in, and it suggests your stop if you’re on public transport. You can even book appointments from the app on services like OpenTable, Lyft, or Uber. Apple Maps is another great all-in-one choice, but it’s only on iOS.
It’s not really a full-fledged navigation app, but if you’re looking to travel around a city, then there’s no better option than Citymapper. Available in a fair selection of cities around the world, Citymapper gives you in-depth information on getting around, including bus and train timetables, walking directions, and real-time data to make sure that you’re always aware of disruptions or traffic that could delay you. If you’re a regular commuter, alongside the up-to-date travel info, you also get updates on projected traffic during your usual commute times, as well as any alternative routes that might get you there quicker. It’s not much good when you’re out in the sticks, but there’s no better app for both the city-slicker and city-visitor.
Waze isn’t just a navigation app — it’s a collection of drivers working together to ensure that as few people as possible get caught out by traffic and incorrect map data. Waze is constantly updated by the millions and millions of users using it to get from one place to another, funneling data about travel times, traffic, and even fuel prices back to Waze, to help other users. You can add friends to your app and see them on your map, so you know exactly when they’re going to reach you, and the community is constantly making sure that the maps used for navigation are up-to-date. It also works with Android Auto in your car and is definitely worth a try if you commute every day. Even though both are owned by Google, it can be tricky to choose between Waze and Google Maps, so we recommend trying out both to find the right one for you.
Yep, MapQuest is still around, and it’s actually in the top 10 navigation apps, according to Apple. Like Waze, MapQuest tries to compete with Apple Maps and Google Maps to provide the best turn-by-turn GPS navigation. It adds layers such as food, gas, hotels, and shopping to give you an idea of what is nearby. When you click a location — like a restaurant — you can access more details including Yelp reviews and quick access to its website. When getting directions, MapQuest will show you the driving route and walking route and also features updated live cameras so you can view conditions before you hit the road. Similar to Waze, it is a great alternative navigation app when you want to try something new.
Komoot isn’t a navigation app for drivers — it’s made specifically for anyone looking for an outdoor adventure. Whether you’re road cycling, hiking, backpacking, or mountain biking, Komoot helps you plan out and navigate the great outdoors. You can create your own outdoor experience with the planning tool and when you are ready to go, the turn-by-turn navigation and offline maps keep your adventure on track. Komoot generates sport-specific, topographic routing, giving you the freedom to choose how you want to navigate. Plus, once you’re finished, you can save your journey and share your experiences with your friends.
Now here’s a true all-in-one option. DriveMode isn’t really a navigation app, it’s more a handy interface laid over the top of your phone while you’re driving. But what an interface! DriveMode thinks of itself as a safety app, and uses large screen buttons and voice commands to ensure that you’re able to access the information you need, when you need it. You can reply to text messages with your voice, as well as skip songs on your music player, or quickly find new directions. It’s compatible with a lot of the best music and maps apps around, including Spotify, Google Maps, and more — and it even syncs up with Google Assistant. If your car isn’t smart, then DriveMode can make it seem like it is. Unfortunately for iPhone users, it’s Android-only for now.