One of the advantages of owning a smartphone is it’s easier than ever to get where you want to be. No matter where you are in the world, you can pull up a map, see the situation on the ground, and make a plan accordingly. No more Thomas Guide or Rand McNally Atlas weighing heavily on your lap. These days, you have a multitude of digital maps to choose from.
Your phone’s pre-installed map app is probably great, or at least good enough to get you where you need to be. But only if “where you need to be” is accessible by road and you’re not keen to play “alternate routes” roulette. There may be better options out there, as certain apps have a very narrow niche they’re trying to fill. Want to take a train or a bus? Zoom along on a secret shortcut? Make a few specific stops on your way to the office? There are apps for all of it.
We’ve gone through each interface and ranked apps that help you get where you’re going, no matter where that is:
5) Google Maps, The Flexible Backup
Let’s start with the app most people download first thing when they get a new phone, Google Maps. Google Maps is odd in that it’s a jack of all trades and almost, but not quite, a master of them all. It comes with a full suite of tools — live directions, offline maps that automatically download to your phone so you can still navigate without a signal, the ability to track where you parked your car, “two-wheeler” mode, and on and on.
There are specialized apps that do specific jobs better, and you should probably be using those. But for everyday use, and as a handy backup to more specialized apps, you can’t go wrong with G-Maps.
4) INRIX, The Commute Planner
Everybody has those destinations where you go from point A to point B and back again, every day. You go to work, you hit the grocery store, you drive to the gym, you pick up something at the liquor store, and so on. What INRIX is good at doing is analyzing how you get to those locations, and planning ahead to find the optimal route with the least traffic and frustration, every day.
Instead of just mindlessly taking the same route, and being surprised by traffic, you can route around wrecks and get to work on time without having to skip your other stops.