Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
By Apple’s own admission, its new Maps app on the iPhone and iPad is a crummy stand-in for the beloved Google Maps.In fact, in Tim Cook’s apology to customers, he recommended a handful of mapping apps that are strong alternatives to Apple’s own weak product.
So, which one should you be using? We took a look at each to see how they stack up.
What We Like It: The Google Maps web app provides most of the same form and function we were used to in the previous iOS version.
Recently, the app implemented Street View. Additional features include walking and public transit directions, multiple layers for data like traffic, information on places with business information, ratings, and reviews.
What We Don't Like It: It's a web app, so having to always open up searches in the browser can be annoying. The new Street View feature opens up in a new tab instead of the same window where the map is, which is also a bit annoying.
What The Experience Is Like: Overall Google's web app experience is pleasant. While it isn't as smooth as the former stock app it definitely is a suitable alternative until Google can get an app into the App Store. Users can take advantage of favourite places if you simply sign in with your Google account.
Price: Free by directing Safari to maps.google.com.
What We Like: MapQuest has been around for a long time. The company has an excellent reputation in the online consumer mapping world.
The MapQuest mobile app provides users with free voice-guided, turn-by-turn GPS directions, including live traffic support. MapQuest recently added live traffic camera views so you can keep an eye out on traffic ahead of the road. Besides just helping you get around, the app also does an excellent job of keeping you informed about your surroundings. There is a gas price indicator, layers for food, airports, coffee shops, and more. MapQuest users can also take advantage of walking directions.
What We Don't Like: When we entered a Manhattan address, MapQuest wanted to take us to Brooklyn. We also don't like how we can't view different layers like satellite and hybrid view. MapQuest's iPhone app still doesn't take advantage of the iPhone 5's larger screen, so you'll see black bars on the top and bottom of your maps. The interface isn't as robust as Google Maps, and the graphics could use some improvement.
What The Experience Is Like: Using MapQuest is a pleasant experience. Overall, the app got us where we wanted to go. Except for the slight New York City boroughs hiccup, directions were pretty accurate. We particularly enjoyed the voice-guided turn-by-turn directions.
What We Like: Telenav is very easy to use. The app allows you to store locations for home and work, making it easy to navigate from a new location. You can also add other favourite places, view recent navigations, easily locate airports, and access contact information.
GPS has a neat 'Places' section, which lists ATMs, Food/Coffee shops, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, and a host of other places.
What We Don't Like: For $9.99 per year, users can upgrade to gain features that a free in other apps.
The upgrade brings voice-guided navigation, real-time traffic, speed and red-light camera locations, car connect, lane assist, posted speed limits, etc.
Price: Free (upgrade to the pro version for $9.99 for one year or $2.99 for 30 days.)
What we like: The Navigon app is like using the a full-fledged turn-by-turn GPS. It's very similar to the dedicated units that people use only in their cars. Navigon has recently updated its app to support what it calls 'Urban Guidance,' meaning it can guide you using public transportation options such as subways, trams, buses, and water taxis. You will be guided to a transit stop by foot and you're able to look up detailed information on what service to take and where to get off.
You can also expect the normal, turn-by-turn voice guided navigation.
An excellent perk to Navigon is the fact that it won't use your data plan. The Navigon maps app is a fully downloadable file, providing users with offline maps. The lack of data usage, for some, could justify the high price.
What we don't like: $49.99 is a steep price for any app. We understand that Navigon has a huge amount of experience and technology in the GPS world, but it still hurts paying that much for an app. There are also a plethora of money-draining app add-ons that range from $5.99 all the way up to $39.99.
We've also heard that many users experienced issues when updating the maps.
What the experience is like: Navigon's directions and maps are very accurate. Time and time again the app got us to exactly where we wanted to go without any hiccups. We especially like the offline Maps and how using the app doesn't heavily eat into our data plan.
Rating: 4/5 (if you can get over the steep introductory price).
What We Like: Live crowdsourced traffic data is awesome for commuter-warriors.
Why We Don't Like: This app is most useful for drivers, not those who get around by walking, biking, or using public transportation. This isn't so much an app for seeing where a location is as it is for seeing the best way to get somewhere specifically by car.
What The Experience Is Like: You get a cool bird's-eye view of your area. Other Waze users appear on the map and when they report incidents like a speed trap, a traffic jam, or nice clear roads, the map updates to reflect it.
What We Like: It has a vibe very reminiscent of Google Maps, perfect for directions, searching the web, and even oddly includes daily deals.
What We Don't Like: It crashed a couple times while we were doing simple things like getting directions from point A to point B. With 'forward' and 'back' buttons, it felt a little too much like we were browsing the web.
What The Experience Is Like: Very comparable to our beloved Google Maps, actually. Search for an address, check out satellite imagery, and figure out where you're going.
What We Like: You can get the voice of Kitt from 'Knight Rider' to announce your driving directions as an in-app purchase. The GPS navigation also works with bicycle-specific instructions, which we're very partial to.
What We Don't Like: Once again, the app's primary purpose is navigation, not for casual browsing. Additionally, it was unable to find my parents' address.
What The Experience Is Like: It's your in-car GPS in an app form.
What We Like: You can save maps for offline use, a feature normally reserved for pricey mapping apps.
What We Don't Like: It's a web app, so you have to fire up Safari. We're more partial to dedicated apps.
What The Experience Is Like: Once again, very comparable to Google Maps.
What we like: MotionX GPS Drive and just GPS both provide accurate directions for an affordable price.
MotionX GPS Drive is always up to date. The app supports real-tme and predictive traffic-based routing; pre-loaded maps for offline use; Facebook and Twitter integration; a parking spot marker, and more recently the app has been updated to support speed limit and lane assistance. For $9.99 a year, users can enjoy voice guidance.
MotionX GPS can be used for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and more. The app has been around for four years and still continues to be updated. The accuracy is excellent and the app provides users with Wikipedia information, Facebook integration, coordinate information, and much more. We love how the maps are downloaded to your device instead of having to rely on your data plan.
What we don't like: As is the case with several other apps, MotionX is best for driving, not browsing your city.
MotionX GPS Drive: 3.5/5
MotionX GPS: 4/5
MotionX GPS Drive: $0.99
MotionX GPS: $0.99
Is it a terrible surprise that the best Google Maps replacement is Google Maps? We think not.
But it does have the drawback of being a web-based app with Street View opening a new tab. Overall the Google Maps web app has a lot of the things we're used to like detailed information about places near us, walking and transit directions baked in, multiple layers, and everything else we were used to.
If you really would like to use a dedicated app instead of Google Map's web app, we prefer Bing over the rest.
And don't forget, Google is working on a standalone Google Maps for the iPhone. It should launch by the end of the year.