When was the last time you drove to a new destination without the use of handy smartphone apps? Can’t remember? Yeah, neither do we! Google Maps, Waze and Co. have become an integral part of our lives. They’re cheap, convenient and almost always available – until you run out of data. But hey, there’s a solution for that, too! More about that in a moment. The most difficult part about using navigation apps is finding one that best suits your needs. We’ve done our homework and created a compilation of the best navigation and GPS apps to get you to your destination!
For us Aussies, navigating the roads is an essential part of our day-to-day life. With the majority of cities quite spread out, driving long distances for work or to visit close friends and relatives is quite normal. Not to mention, that the car offers one of the best ways to experience the vast landscapes of this beautiful country. But all this driving definitely requires some assistance from a reliable, user-friendly navigation system that gets updated often.
With many older car models not having built-in navigation systems or up to date ones for that matter, phone apps are the way to go. There are various apps for you to choose from, some paid, some free of charge, but which ones are the best? Which ones are compatible with Android and Apple devices? And most importantly, what navigation systems are best for different situations? Whether you’re travelling through the outback with your 4WD, navigating around busy urban centres or trying to find a new way around suburban neighbourhoods, there’s an app for that!
Continue reading to find out more about the navigation and GPS apps that are worth your time and money!
The Best Navigation Apps for Android and Apple
In-built navigation apps such as Apple Maps and Google Maps, are fantastic tools for anyone looking to optimise their daily travels “to a T”. Both will store information about your home, place of work and daily routine, they’ll remind you when you have to leave for an appointment and even remember where you’ve last parked your car. If that isn’t handy?
Who doesn’t love a good online map with clear visuals and simple turn-by-turn navigation?
Google Maps is a free to use navigation app that syncs with your Google Calendar and Gmail invitations – telling you exactly how long it will take you to get to a meeting or date and when you have to leave to arrive on time. Google Maps also gives you real-time traffic updates and works with voice command, so you can keep your hands on the wheel while Google finds the nearest gas station for you.
Available for both Android and iOS, Google Maps has a lot more to offer than merely helping you navigate the world – although, if you just want to do that, Google’s navigation app is a fine choice. Google Maps allows you to follow your favourite businesses, explore new places and will make suggestions based on your past activity.
Are you wondering what your next travel destination looks like in real life? With Google Street view you can explore landmarks in 360-degree street view with augmented reality. Or maybe you just want to check out what your hometown looks like from above? Google Maps is the most popular navigation app for a reason!
A navigation app that works on iOS and Mac only – sorry Android users, Apple Maps is the default navigation tool on all Apple devices. It comes pre-installed and ready to get you where you want to go. With real-time traffic information, turn-by-turn spoken directions and lane guidance, it’s easy to understand why we love Apple Maps.
It syncs with Apple Watches, which comes in pretty handy if your phone is running low on battery or you’re exploring new destinations on foot. The Apple Watch shows a simplified version of next turn instructions and will give you different haptic feedback when it’s time to turn left or right. Just like Google Maps, Apple’s navigation tool allows you to link to your Apple calendar and will proactively notify you of how long it will take you to get to your next destination.
If you don’t enjoy Apple’s minimalistic app design, Waze might be more your thing: Heavily animated and featuring bright colours, sounds and cartoon characters, Waze adds a little bit of entertainment to every car trip. You can link Waze to your Spotify account and skip tracks without ever leaving the navigation app. Drawing on user-generated data, Waze warns you about upcoming accidents and road closures, speed cameras and traffic congestions.
Like Google and Apple, Waze offers real-time traffic updates and suggests shortcuts and faster routes where appropriate. Other unique features that got us hooked, include showing the nearest parking spots close to your destination and reminding you to check the baby seat before you leave the car – which can come in handy after long road trips, particularly for new, exhausted parents.
Best GPS Apps for Offline Use
Depending on where in Australia your travels take you, you are likely to find yourself without phone reception now and again. Particularly when you decide to leave urban centres behind, cell phone coverage can quickly become spotty. Having a navigation app that works with GPS only, can be extremely useful in those cases.
An offline map that’s available around the world, maps.me (formerly known as MapsWithMe) gets you to your destination safely, whether you’re exploring locally or adventuring abroad. Maps.me is free to download, works on iOS and Android phones and is updated regularly. Since it doesn’t use data, it helps to conserve your phone’s battery power – another major plus when you’re out and about or on the road.
How does it work? Before you take off, make sure to download the map of your target area, or the entire country if you wish. To include all the routes in offline mode, simply select the option “Download Map + Routing. Et voila! You’re ready to roll!
Yet another navigation app that works in offline mode thanks to GPS location tracking, Avenza Maps is commonly used for hiking and biking. Many maps are available for free, others will have to be purchased from the in-app Map Store. A subscription service is available for anyone who prefers unlimited custom map imports. For users of Apple and Android devices who love to go off the grid, Avenza offers real-time position tracking and directions – even when offline.
Best Navigation Apps for 4WD
Navigating the outback is an entirely different experience. 4WD owners are used to taking the roads less travelled (quite literally) – which often translates to there not being cellphone reception. The most adventurous souls amongst us need navigation apps that can keep up and are equipped to help them safely navigate off-road tracks.
If you love camping, caravanning, and four-wheel driving, the Australian navigation tool ExploreOz Traveller can be yours for $59.95. The ideal choice for your 4WD adventures, the app can be used online and offline, serves as a map, tracking and navigation tool.
An award-winning 4WD navigation app, Mud-Maps clocks in at $99.99. But with offline capabilities that need no reception, and more than 2,500 detailed 4WD tracks and topo maps, you’re sure to get your money’s worth. Compatible with iPhone and Android devices, Mud-Maps provides Australia-wide coverage and covers 4WD hotspots in detail.
Hema 4WD Maps app
If you’re after offline mapping and looking to plan routes and record tracks, the Hema 4WD Maps app is for you. At $99.99, it has a hefty price, but Hema has led the way in terms of mapping for years and is a reliable partner when it comes to outback adventures. The 4WD app offers offline navigation, topographic information and allows you to plan your routes. Like Mud-Maps, it covers you Australia wide.
Before you go …
We know you’re keen to test these navigation apps in real life, but before you go off on your next adventure, make sure to read our handy guide on surviving in the outback without phone reception and check to see if your vehicle is in tip-top shape!
Here at Novus, we specialise in car windscreen replacements and repairs and service ADAS systems. Don’t hesitate to contact the team at Novus online or give us a call on 13 22 34, to get your vehicle into top road trip condition.