Lost? These apps can help

Disappointed with the new Apple Maps? Here are some free navigation app alternatives that have been found to work well in India
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First Published: Tue, Oct 02 2012. 06 53 PM IST
Navfree GPS Live India
Navfree GPS Live India
Updated: Tue, Oct 02 2012. 07 22 PM IST
Are you among those who have been very disappointed with the new maps on iOS 6? Fortunately, there are a number of free apps on the iTunes App Store that will let you find your way around town, without paying anything more than data charges.
These apps may not be as good as Google Maps, but a Google Maps app may not come for months or even longer, so unless you’re willing to spend a bundle on a paid app, these are the best bets for iPhone/iPad users.
Navfree GPS Live India
Perhaps the best free navigation app for those in India, Navfree claims to operate on what it says is “map data created by a community of thousands of users around the world”. Yes, we know that may not sound too reassuring to some people, but the app works rather well, at least in cities. It gets the map data from OpenStreetMap and also has the massive benefit of working offline (it is a 157 MB one-time download), so you won’t run up a hefty data bill using it. It comes with features like navigating to an address, points of interest, the option to send location to your social networks and switch the display to night mode, if need be.
Global Navigator
Its interface might not set the world on fire, but there is no doubting the utility of this handy app. The free Global Navigator lets you choose from a variety of maps—including Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Bing Maps and Google Earth—as you make your way around town. You can save routes and do local and global searches, but the catch is that the app requires an Internet connection to work.
Not only are searches done online, but the app also pulls map data from the Internet instead of saving it to your device. That can add up to a lot of data, so you might want to avoid this app unless you have an unlimited connection. That said, the app has a lot of maps to choose from, and works well, so if data isn’t an issue, this is a good bet.
PD Maps Worldwide Edition
Like Global Navigator, PD Maps also works by letting users access different mapping services. PD Maps can summon up maps from OpenStreetMap, Yahoo!, Google, Bing, Panoramio and a few others, and in a rather innovative twist, lets you choose not just the mapping service but also the routing service. That means you could actually choose to see a map in Bing and opt for Google’s routing service, which is neat but not recommended, as it does take forever to load even on a 3G connection.
Which is, again, the drawback of the app—offline navigation is not possible, so you’re using data every time you look up a route. The plus over Global Navigator is that the interface is easier to use.
It is called the social GPS app by many people and remains one of our firm favourites among free navigation options. Although it first made waves because it allowed users to share traffic data with each other, alerting people to jams on the way, and to swap messages in the process, Waze is also a nifty navigator in its own right and works very briskly too. It comes with social media connectivity as well as the ability to join or create driving groups to find out what’s happening on the routes you frequently use.
The spellings of some Indian locations can be a bit weird but we love the speed with which the app works and its social angle. And it is totally free—no hidden charges—with maps that get updated fairly regularly.
Those who have already used Glympse know that it’s not a map app in the traditional sense. Instead, Glympse is a location-based social network—users can share their location and travel routes with selected people.
Which is where the navigation aspect comes in—if you’re sent a person’s location, then the app can give you directions either to their current location or to their destination (if they shared their route with you), using Google Maps data.
So the app isn’t useful if you want to—for example—find a route to India Gate. But if you’re meeting friends there, and one of them has Glympse on their phone? Problem solved. It’s a great app for when you need to meet up with friends in unfamiliar locations, which is a pretty handy feature.
Google Maps
If you are really yearning for the Google Maps experience, well, it is just a URL away.
Point your browser to maps.google.com and you will be able to see Google Maps in all its glory and get navigation options that include walking, driving and public transport. No, it won’t work as smoothly as it did through the native app, but it’s still handy.
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First Published: Tue, Oct 02 2012. 06 53 PM IST
More Topics: Apple Maps | Google Maps | Waze | Glympse | Navfree |
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