These days, it’s no longer necessary to lug around your purpose-built portable sat-nav in order to find your way around. Instead, there are now plenty of reliable sat-nav apps that can do the same job right from your iPhone. With prices ranging from zero to hundreds of dollars, it can be a little confusing to decide which one delivers quality without an exaggerated price tag. This guide will go over the top 5 sat-nav apps for the iPhone, ranking them based on price, reliability, ease-of-use and accuracy, as well as other factors.
ALK CoPilot Live Premium – $8.99
ALK has certainly earned its stripes when it comes to sat-nav apps, having been in the business since the very first iPhone hit the shelves. The CoPilot Live Premium is the ninth version of this product, meaning that the company has had a chance to significantly improve the app since its first incarnation.
The design of the app is aesthetically top-notch and easy to use. Taken a wrong turn? CoPilot Live is also particularly quick at rerouting and getting you back on track. The app will also pick up on the latest traffic incidents while you are on the road, changing the route where necessary. We also like the fact that you can drag waypoints, similar to Google Maps, if you prefer taking a slightly different route to what the app suggests. It also does particularly well to find local eateries and places of interest. This is due to the fact that it connects to Google and Yelp for its local business information, using other quality services to fuel their own app. Very clever on ALK’s part and they have integrated this functionality beautifully.
ALK’s customer and technical support is some of the best in the business, and the price of purchase also includes free updates for a full year. Considering the price point and quality, this is one of the top choices when it comes to sat-nav apps.
Garmin Streetpilot – $39.99
Garmin is one of the top names when it comes to the traditional portable sat-nav models, but it has also released a quality iPhone app as well. Featuring things like Google Street View and Panorama View 3D, this app is certainly worth a look.
For users that already own one of the Garmin Nuvi portable sat-navs, then this application will be comfortingly familiar. The interface is intuitive and simple to use, continuing a strong tradition in the Garmin family of products. The app takes on very little memory, you get free map updates and the app will reroute according to any traffic alerts it picks up. The maps are also downloaded as you go, meaning that your iPhone will not use precious memory space to download the entire United States roadmap to your device. The app has performed incredibly well on the road, suffering little to no lag when retrieving maps while on the road.
You are also given the option to buy the Urban Guidance add-on, which means that pedestrian routes will include public transportation as part of any route calculations. You will no longer need to do this manually, as Garmin will take buses, trams and subways into account. We like that Garmin has kept the overall cost of the basic app relatively low, meaning that any additions can be purchased only when necessary to each individual user.
Overall, Garmin’s entry to the sat-nav apps market is a solid choice. It’s intuitive, the company is a trusted name and you can purchase add-ons as necessary, bringing the price of the basic application down. For most people, it’s all you need anyway.
Sygic GPS Navigation – Free
Sygic boasts to be one of the most downloaded offline navigations apps on the market, and it’s not difficult to see why. The one selling point that stands out from the rest is that it offers free lifetime updates. You simply select and pay for your geographic location (e.g. United States) and you will get maps for your choice for as long as you want. This is a top deal that alone makes the Sygic worth considering.
Sygic has packed its app with a boatload of features as well. In addition to the aforementioned free map updates, you also get real-time traffic alerts (and automatic route changes to accommodate these), spoken directions, and speed limit alerts. It doesn’t stop there. It also gives you a couple of unique add-ons that you don’t see with many other GPS apps. Are you ever frustrated that you can’t change the viewing options on the maps? Sygic lets you have full multitouch access, making it easy to get an overview of your route. You also get weather information as you go along!
TomTom USA – $35.99
It’s no surprise that the TomTom’s interface is smooth and looks absolutely fantastic, in no small part due to the company’s extensive experience in traditional sat-navs. It’s also a great option for those that don’t want to rely on data services while using the app, as everything comes with it the minute you finish downloading TomTom USA.
If you are thinking of doing a cross-country road trip, this is an excellent choice. It also helps you find emergency services, such as hospitals and roadside assistance, whenever you need them. Rated as the best by many independent review websites such as Gizmodo and Cnet.com as well as being recommended by new car dealers such as Penske Automotive and Jardine Motors as the best choice for customers.
Overall, a robust and affordable product from a trusted brand means that the TomTom is a solid choice for anyone looking for a sat-nav app.
Navmii – Free
Navmii is unique compared to the other apps on this list in that its maps are built from crowd-sourced data sources, meaning that a global community of over 850’000 contributors are constantly improving the application with the latest road and traffic information. This means the app goes from strength to strength as its user base continues to grow, giving you a distinctive advantage over apps that use commercial map data.
The downside of this app is also perhaps its greatest strength: the very fact that its basic offering is free means that you can get started straight away without having to take out your credit card. However, if you are looking for an app that is fully loaded then the add-ons can start adding up quite quickly. It’s up to you to decide whether you can get away with picking and choosing only a couple of extras, or just shelling out for one of the fully-stacked products reviewed above. Depending on how many features you are looking for, the more expensive products may be cheaper in the long run.
The apps we have reviewed in this guide are the best in the business; there is no question that each is a top-notch products in its own right. Depending on your exact needs and budget, there is something for every consumer.