Turn by turn navigation

Find your way with your iDevice


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

  • Free

    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.

  • $59.99

    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.

  • Free

    Scout GPS Navigation, Maps, Meet Ups & 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

  • $19.99

    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.

  • $0.99

    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

  • Free

    MapQuest: Free Navigation, GPS, Maps & 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.

  • $47.99

    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.

Traffic Avoiders

  • Free

    Waze - GPS, Maps & Social Traffic

    by Waze Inc.

    Waze allows users to update traffic on routes from their iPhone. It can help you avoid a traffic jam.

  • Free

    INRIX® XD™ Traffic Maps, Routes & Alerts

    by INRIX, Inc.

    Check out the route your preferred navigation app is giving you, and see if there are any traffic congestions on the way. Intix Traffic is updated regularly, but it's not as accurate as Google Maps, so I'd say skip it for now.

Parked Car Finders

  • $0.99

    Honk - Find Car, Parking Meter Alarm and Nearby Places

    by Math Game House LLC

    Honk is the best way to find your parked car. The app allows you to tag the location of your car and set a timer to make sure that you get back to your parking meter before it expires. The app’s icon features a push notification badge that updates with the time left until your meter expires. It will also ring an alarm on your phone if you don’t get back to the car in time. You can also add a voice or written memo and snap a photo of the place where you parked your car. Honk features a very simple user interface and includes a map that shows the distance between you and your car.

Other Apps