It's been a long time since navigation technology was restricted to an expensive sat nav device - now you can get detailed maps, turn-by-turn directions, and live traffic updates direct to your phone.
Apple Maps and Google Maps may be the two biggest names when it comes to mapping apps, but look a little further and you'll find a few other navigation apps with features to rival them, and a few tricks that they can't manage. Some of the apps here also offer offline navigation, which is great if you're off hiking and need help wayfinding.
Here's our pick of the lot.
Free with a new iPhone or iPad
When it launched back in 2012 to replace Google Maps as the default mapping app on iOS, Apple Maps was met with sceptical hesitation from users. Skip past people supposedly driving into lakes and ravines after listening to Maps (not the app’s fault) to today, and the app is excellent - particularly the Flyover feature, which allows you to view detailed 3D structures to help orientate yourself.
Everything you’d expect from a navigation app is here: turn-by-turn instructions, live traffic info and detailed driving/walking instructions are clear and well presented on-screen. You can trust in Apple to get you from A to B (finally).
You'll probably need an iPhone car mount, so here are the best.
Along with Apple Maps this is surely the most used and most reputable navigation app out there. Before Apple made its own app, Google Maps was on the iPhone from Day One in 2007 and continues to integrate itself well with iPhones – however, there’s no way to set it as the default mapping app.
You can also use Google Maps for offline navigation. Here's how.
If you want to find out how Google Maps stacks up against Apple's own app, read our detailed comparison review.
Waze is a cool alternative to Apple and Google, and its main draw is the community of users it has. If you’re a user, you are contributing real time traffic information to the app, as well given the chance to manually report certain road accidents, police cordons and other journey-ruining stuff.
The app also lets you find out useful things like where to get cheap fuel on your route or more standard functions like automatic rerouting. If helping your fellow driver rather than shouting at them is your thing, then get on board with Waze.
Citymapper doesn't offer turn-by-turn navigation instructions or traffic updates for drivers, so if you've got your own car it might not be ideal.
However, if you live in one of the major cities covered by the app and regularly use public transport, it could be a lifesaver. It compares journey times for walking, cycling, public transport, and taxis, along with fare information and even rough calorie counts.
Best of all, it's updated with real-time service information, giving you info on delays on your route faster than almost any other map app. The only downside? That means it can't cover everywhere, so check your city is one of the ones covered, but if you live in a major metropolis with complex public transport, it's probably on the list.
You can also save journeys and see train schedules even when offline with Citymapper. See Citymapper for details on how to do this.
The Nokia-developed HERE isn’t the most used navigation app in the UK by some distance, but there’s reason to feel it should be. It's another app that boasts offline navigation – you download maps for offline use, as well as get turn by turn directions without an internet connection. This works well, and better than some rivals.
It’s also got a good journey planning function that you can even do on your computer to load onto your phone if you’re planning a big trip on a big screen. HERE is definitely a worthy road companion.
CoPilot Premium for iPhone and iPad
You might be thinking, why pay for a navigation app when there are free alternatives? Good question, here’s the answer: for drivers it’s better and more reliable. If you use your iPhone for navigation when driving, CoPilot Premium stores detailed maps onto your device so you can still use it without a data connection.
There’s also a lot more versatility on offer. Traffic camera alerts, improved junction views for clearer instructions and real time traffic updates make this an app whose features are more than the comparatively simpler free alternatives. The quality of the roadmaps is more akin to those found on expensive in-dash systems.
Sygic GPS Navigation & Maps
Sygic GPS Navigation and Maps is another great option for iPhone that lets you navigate without internet. It offers 3D offline maps, voice-guided GPS directions, points out places of interest, and also driving and traffic data to make your journey safer.
Other useful features include live information about parking availability and pricing, and speeding camera warnings (not that you should be speeding anyway!).
Navmii GPS Offline Navigation and Traffic
Navmii is another great alternative to the mainstream mapping and direction apps for iPhone. It offers voice-guided navigation so you can keep your eyes on the road at important points of your journey. It also has offline maps for those times you stray out of signal’s reach.
It integrates with other popular apps like TripAdvisor for advice on where to eat and stay on the road, and has on-board OpenStreetMap maps that are stored on the phone – so if you run out of data, you might just not get lost after all.