Best GPS Apps: Get Where You Need to Go with Ease

Reach your destination quickly and safely with these top GPS apps

TheDrive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

Planning a road trip to a place you’ve never been before can be a hassle, especially if you’re in a new city. Using one of the best GPS map apps can help you reach your destination quickly and more efficiently. With the ability to monitor traffic, road conditions, and the weather, the most popular GPS navigation apps will get you where you need to go. Here are the top map apps to direct you from one point to another without getting lost.

  • Best Overall
    Magic Earth Navigation and Maps
    Summary
    Summary
    This GPS app comes with both a 3D view and a satellite option and is able to add points of interest.
    Pros
    Pros
    You will find a turn navigation system with a heads-up display and lane guidance. It alerts you of any oncoming road signs, traffic stops, changes in the speed limit, and traffic warnings.
    Cons
    Cons
    It is an Android phone-based app and might require Google Play, so iPhone users are out of luck. It also has a lengthy download time, due to its 33.5MB, and could take a few minutes to fully install.
  • Best Value
    Maps.ME - Offline Maps and Navigation
    Summary
    Summary
    This handy and fast GPS app provides instant access to detailed 3D maps of every country and includes enhanced graphics.
    Pros
    Pros
    You don’t need an internet connection to use it. It comes with bookmarks and an import and export feature. It even has an option to send a pin of your location.
    Cons
    Cons
    If you plan on driving from one state to another, you will have to bring up a new map of the state once you enter it. You also need to be exact with the names of locations, including punctuation. It also has a large 61MB download size.
  • Honorable Mention
    GPS Offline Custom Map Navigation
    Summary
    Summary
    As both an online and offline GPS app, the GPS Offline Custom Map Navigation app is able to set custom estimated time of arrival markers and comes with a live street view.
    Pros
    Pros
    It’s quick to download and has a voice guidance navigation system. It also comes with a route tracker to find the shortest possible route to your destination.
    Cons
    Cons
    It was last updated in 2018, so it may not have the most up-to-date maps. You will also need to make sure you have at least 8.2MB of space on your device.

Benefits of GPS Apps

  • Never get lost. With the convenience of a GPS, you will always know where you are. You can easily pull up the app and locate the nearest highway or motorway if you find yourself off the beaten path. 
  • Get detailed directions. Simply winging it by choosing a general direction may get you where you want to go, but it might not be the most convenient or simplest route. Typing in your exact destination will ensure you reach your destination quickly and efficiently.
  • Avoid distractions. You won’t be distracted by constantly searching for directions if you use a top-rated GPS app. Several, if not all, are fitted with the ability to speak aloud the directions, so you aren’t forced to look at a map or printed directions.
  • Track your trip. If you want to know exactly how far you plan to drive, bike, or hike, you can chart the journey on the GPS app. It can also be used to track how many calories you burn during a bike or run. 
  • Use them for hiking and other activities. GPS apps are largely used in vehicles, but they are also great for monitoring your journey when walking, biking, or camping.
    Provide entertainment. Some GPS apps give you the option to listen to music. They can either come with their own songs or you can upload your own tracks.

Types of GPS Apps

Navigation

The basic and most common types of GPS apps are those devoted to navigation. They will provide you with the best routes to take you to your destination, notify you of any traffic alerts, and include voice navigation for extra convenience. You can find a wide selection of these for both iOS and Android devices.

Speedometer

A speedometer GPS app comes with all of the navigational features you need while also acting as a speedometer. This function allows you to see how fast you are traveling and is better suited for cyclists, hikers, and runners. While it does also function in a vehicle, you already have the built-in speedometer in the car. It can also alert you of upcoming speed changes on your drive.

Tracking

A tracker GPS app allows you to pinpoint and track a device if it ever goes missing. If your phone has this type of app installed on it, you can use another device with the same software to locate it. Many can also be synced to other devices to show you where they are at any given time. This is helpful for parents who want to know where their child is. They can even be used on animal collars.

GPS Apps Pricing

  • Free: The majority, if not all, of the best GPS apps, are free to download on your smartphone. They come with all the basic features and functions you need to ensure you don’t get lost or stuck in traffic.
  • Paid: The price you will pay for some GPS apps varies by only a few dollars. A few will be around one dollar while others can be up to six dollars. These have extra features that make them accessible on smartwatches, while others work as enhanced speedometers.

Key Features

Traffic Information

One of the top features of a GPS app is its ability to monitor live traffic data in your area to let you know of any slowdowns. This is especially useful if you commute to work and home or drive in a new city, state, or country. If there is any type of traffic accident, closure, or hazard, the GPS will typically alert you with either an audible message or red text on the screen. Real-time traffic updates keep you informed within seconds of something happening.

Data Usage 

An app can use a lot of data when it is up and running. If you use it on your smartphone, then you will either need a data plan or a WiFi signal to ensure it functions properly. If it is on your GPS device, then you don’t need to worry about data usage unless the device itself needs that or WiFi to function. Many GPS apps can be used offline, which avoids using data altogether.

File Size

You want to consider the size of the app before you download it. The larger the file the more space it will take up on your device. If you need an app right away, you should download it before your trip. Depending on the size and the manner in which you download it (WiFi versus data) it could take a while before it is loaded and updated.

Other Considerations

  • Convenience: A GPS app should be convenient to use and easy to operate. If all you need it for is to get from one place to another, then you should be able to simply enter the address of the destination. From there, the app can even make it simpler by finishing the address for you so you don’t have to type it in fully. Many even allow you to enter the address with a voice command.
  • Battery Life. While the app itself doesn’t have a battery life, it will drain the power on your device. You can always keep the phone or GPS unit plugged in during use to ensure it never runs out of juice. However, if you take it running or camping, a GPS app can drain the battery life quickly.

Best GPS Apps Reviews & Recommendations 2019

Best GPS Apps Overall: Magic Earth Navigation and Maps

Magic Earth Navigation and Maps
Amazon

This GPS app comes outfitted with both a 3D view and a satellite option for a better and more detailed view of your destination. The app is also able to add points of interest, so you can instantly click on the screen to bring up an interesting place to check out. It also comes with a turn-by-turn direction system with a heads-up display.

In addition, it comes with lane guidance to direct you to the quickest and least congested route. It alerts you of any oncoming road signs, traffic stops, speed cameras, and warnings. Plus, if you need to take it out of the car, it has both pedestrian and bicycle navigation. You will also get minute-by-minute traffic updates and an offline map feature.

It is an Android-based app and might require Google Play to function, so Apple users are out of luck with this one. It also has a lengthy download time and could take a few minutes to fully install, which is odd because it’s only 33.5MB. It also may delete offline maps when it updates, but you can get them back by downloading them again.

Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

Best Value GPS Apps: Maps.ME - Offline Maps and Navigation

Maps.ME - Offline Maps and Navigation
Amazon

This handy and fast GPS app is designed to get you to your destination as promptly as possible. It provides instant access to detailed 3D maps of every country no matter where you are in the world. With its enhanced graphics and interface, you will be able to identify the exact buildings as you come across them to know exactly where you are.

One of the most beneficial things about Maps.Me is you don’t need any access to the internet to use it. Aside from the initial download and connecting it to a service to update it, the app works offline to get you anywhere. You can even bookmark your favorite places and import and export any map you need for easy access. It even has an option to send a pin of where you are to anyone else, so they can find you easily.

One downside, however, is if you plan on driving from one state to another, you will have to bring up a new map of the state once you enter it. It will not automatically switch to the next state. You also need to be extremely precise when you type in the name of a location, so make sure to enter every punctuation mark accurately. As a note, you will need about 61MB of space on your device to download this app.

Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

Best GPS Apps Honorable Mention: GPS Offline Custom Map Navigation

GPS Offline Custom Map Navigation
Amazon

As both an online and offline GPS app, the GPS Offline Custom Map Navigation app is convenient and simple to navigate. You can set custom estimated time of arrival markers, or waypoints, to alert others of when you will reach your destination. It also has a live street-view so you can see exact street names and various locations around the world for anyone who likes to travel.

As a bonus, the time it takes to download is super quick, so you can use it within a minute or so. For ease of use, it has a voice guidance navigation system, so you can keep your hands free. You can also access the apps route tracker feature to find the shortest possible route to your destination.

As a note, it was last updated in 2018, so it may not have the most up-to-date maps. However, this doesn’t take away from its functionality. You also need to make sure you have at least 8.2MB of space on your device. However, that’s just for the initial download of the app. To save offline maps, you will need to accommodate more space on your phone to ensure they can be saved to it.

Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

Tips

  • Before you embark on your journey, be sure to update the GPS app. This will require a WiFi or data connection and ensures you get the most updated road map possible.
  • To make sure you get the correct address, double check what comes up on the screen. There are several addresses in different states that could lead you in the wrong direction.
  • You can avoid paying for any app and download one that doesn’t cost anything. Free ones come with all the basic functions you will need to get from point A to point B.
  • If your GPS app doesn’t function properly, make sure the location feature is enabled on your device.

FAQs

Q: How do I improve the reliability of a GPS app?

A: The GPS may not be able to locate a satellite or signal to properly function. If you use the app with your smartphone, try walking around until you find a good signal. Then you can take a screenshot of the route to your destination and use that until your GPS finds a signal again.

Q: Can a GPS plan a route in different countries?

A: Yes, it should be able to locate any major destination in any country. You may have to download a map of the location before you go there to ensure you get the most up-to-date view. 

Q: Does a GPS app have a power-saving mode?

A: You will have to check with the designer of the app. While some are equipped with ways to save battery life, others may not. You can turn off the screen to get a little more juice and still listen to voice directions.

Final Thoughts

For one of the best navigation apps that won’t leave you lost or stuck in traffic, consider the Magic Earth Navigation and Maps

You can also check out the Maps.ME - Offline Maps and Navigation as another efficient and easy-to-handle GPS app.

Do you have a favorite GPS app to help you get around? Let us know in the comments below.