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Turn by turn navigation

Using the iPhone to replace old navigation units is a highly desired featured for many users. You don't have to rely on the built-in maps app for rudimentary directions, in fact many choices have bombarded the App Store featuring voice-guided turn-by-turn directions to anywhere you want to go. Let's take a look at which apps rival even the high end standalone GPS devices, and which apps need to be detoured away from.

Essential Apps

Google Maps

by Google, Inc.

Google Maps is probably the most comprehensive free maps app on iOS. The app allows you to use Google’s local search to find places to eat, drink, and shop around you. Google’s local search pulls up reviews and ratings of places you find to help you decide whether a place is worth going to. In addition to the local search, Google Maps features full, voice guided, turn-by-turn navigation when you’re driving. You can view walking and public transport routes in the app, too. There is also live traffic information available for select cities within the app. There are swipe based gestures in the app that make the minimalistic user interface very intuitive. Google Maps is what Apple Maps should have always been.

NAVIGON North America

by Garmin Wuerzburg GmbH

If you are going to have one navigation app, this one is it. Navigon wins for best feature set and is updated regularly. The interface is cleaner than most and a recent update added a Google maps search for POIs right into the app. It's the only major brand navigation app to offer real time traffic which automatically rereoutes you to avoid congestion. It's an extra $19.99 for the real time traffic feature (in-app purchase), so make sure you factor that into the price. The MobileNavigator app also fixed the one huge drawback it had and added turn list accessibility via an app update. You can't go wrong with Navigon, even if the UI is not as iPhone-y as Magellan's RoadMate.

Scout GPS, Maps, Voice Navigation & Traffic

by Telenav, Inc.

Scout is a personalized navigation experience for the iPhone. The app allows you to navigate to locations with its voice guided turn by turn navigation. Scout lets you specify custom locations such as your home or where you work so you can easily navigate back with a single tap of a button; there is also a history of all the places you’ve recently visited with the app. Scout also lets you choose places where you can eat and drink, park your car, withdraw money, watch films, and a lot more. You can even view events that are taking place around you. There is also a premium plan included called Scout Plus; if you upgrade to Scout Plus, you can make use of offline maps and view real time traffic details. Furthermore, Scout Plus alerts you of upcoming speed traps, posted speed limits, red light cameras, and assists you when changing lanes. You can upgrade to Scout Plus for $24.99 for a year.

Notable Apps

CoPilot Live North America

by ALK Technologies, Ltd.

For the price sensitive folk, this is the best navigation app with loaded maps that doesn't impact your pocket too much. Nice big buttons make it easy to use while driving (we do NOT recommend this by the way), but the interface does not feel like an iPhone app at all. An in-app purchase ($19.99) gives the app real-time traffic, current nearby gas prices, as well as live search. The points of interest are limited making for a lackluster live search experience. Not a top-tier navigation app, but at a third of the price, it's a worthy alternative.

MotionX GPS Drive

by MotionX™

MotionX GPS Drive has an amazing price, but no maps stored on device. This might be good news for those who don't have the free space on their phone for a 1.5GB navigation app. The maps are updated regularly, but unfortunately the connection requirement leaves this app vulnerable in poor reception or edge connection sites. While the app is inexpensive, you'll have to pay $25 per year for voice guidance. If you don't opt for the in-app purchase, you also don't get any auto-rerouting if you miss a turn, and there is no text-to-speach for street names either. Oh, there is also no landscape mode for the maps. That being said, the price makes it very attractive. But it is only a great solution if you live in a metropolitan area with a constant 3G connection.

Decent Apps

MapQuest: Maps, GPS, Voice Navigation & Traffic

by AOL Inc.

MapQuest from AOL is another free maps alternative on iOS. The app offers voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic information, and gas prices. The app does not include offline maps or support for places to eat and drink other than those in the United States and Canada. MapQuest is ad-supported, these banners can become a bit intrusive when you are trying to navigate around the map. It isn’t the best app out there, but deserves a mention.

TomTom U.S. & Canada

by TomTom

Maybe the biggest name in iPhone GPS and regular updates have kept TomTom a reasonable consideration in the App Store. The user interface is not intuitive and it is downright frustrating since touching the map returns you to the menu screen. That being said, it does feature text-to-speech, allows you to find points of interest along your route, and even lets you do advanced planning. It can't be recommended it for the price since the competition's offerings are better; but it will get you where you need to go.

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