Last night, over dinner, I was speaking to a man named Rick. He is a travel junkie and always captures his memory through his iPhone’s camera. He told me one thing that particularly caught my attention. He talked about the international roaming charges.
Not really the right thing to talk over dinner.
Anyway, you see, when you travel internationally, your cellular network will charge you extra. Receive calls, make calls, use Whatsapp, Facebook, Maps (or anything Internet-related)… you will be charged a lot!
But the problem doesn’t end here. Rick was also fed up with dozens of GPS apps available on the iTunes. Actually, there are too many apps.
And that was the problem for him.
He invested a few hundreds of dollars to download every GPS app available on the iTunes Store. Why? Because he hoped that some of them will work offline. I said he is a cheap guy, and he admits to it.
Long story short, there were two reasons to look for a GPS maps app that works without Internet:
- Heavy international roaming charges
- No reception in many areas
So having a good offline GPS app on iPhone was mandatory. And just when I thought I had the solution, Rick figured it out all.
Top GPS Navigation Apps For Offline Viewing
Now let me ask Rick to complete this post. 🙂
=> Alright folks! Let’s get down to business. With dozens of free and paid apps available in the app store, what we really need is a reliable navigation software that works without 3G or WiFi connection. In short, we need a GPS navigation app that works offline!
Let me list the top 5 GPS apps that comes with this offline viewing feature. Ready? Here we go:
- Google Maps (free)
- Nokia Here Maps (free)
- CoPilot (Paid)
- Garmin’s Navigon app (paid)
- Sygic: GPS Navigation (paid)
Let’s break each of them down:
For years I have used Google Maps and Google Latitude (good to track mobile phones). And I am impressed every time I use it. Google has always delivered what it thinks is the best for users like us. Now, what about offline viewing?
Google Maps app has this feature too! The offline feature works only when you have loaded the Google Maps completely. This is the key.
You cannot go out in the wild, then launch the app and hope that Google Maps will spot your current location. No, that’s not how it works!
Now, if you are traveling by car, which I sometimes do, then Google Maps will never give you turn-turn by navigation details. No fancy voice, no arrows, and no directions. And for me that’s one of the biggest disadvantage.
That said, I always use Google Maps on my mini-trips. For long trips… there is something else.
Nokia Here Maps:
Like Google Maps, Nokia Here offers similar feature. I have no particular reason to recommend this, apart from the fact that it’s from Nokia.
The app* works just fine. But as mentioned earlier, you have to preload the directions with an Internet connection. Otherwise it will never fetch directions unless you are connected to 3G / 4G / WiFi.
Note: Nokia Here maps is removed from the iTunes. You have to use Safari get access to the map.
Now, this is an interesting GPS map. Actually, I highly recommend anyone looking for a *real* and working GPS offline app to get CoPilot. It works without using your data plan. And it works so wonderfully well. You should go with this!
CoPilot has two versions: one is free and limited, while the second is paid and does everything as promised. What really happens when you launch the app is that the current direction will be saved locally on your mobile phone.
Next time as you launch the app you will be able to access that particulate direction.
This consumes the storage space of your iPhone, but so far this is the only best navigational app out there.
Oh, and there is also one year of real-time traffic updates absolutely free. And just like Google Maps, CoPilot also has a turn-by-turn directions and voice feature to assist you during your travel.
I also like the 2D and 3D maps option. CoPilot developers updated the app recently (On May 12th, 2014) and it doesn’t crash anymore (thank God for that!)
Yes, it will cost you $14.99. For a mobile app it does sound a bit expensive, but if you are like me… traveling regularly, then this is absolutely the best GPS navigation app for iPhones! Enough said!
Garmin’s Navigon app:
This was among the very first app I installed on my iPhone. The Navigon app has tonnes of features and lots of in-app purchases to fulfill your needs. But is it worth it?
I don’t want to blindly say “no, it’s not worth it!” But I do recommend Navigon only if you have big pockets. You see, Garmin’s Navigon is a wonderful app but it costs you $59.99.
It’s very accurate, works offline, shows you real-time traffic and has amazing graphics… but all that said, it’s still expensive. If you are a Garmin customer, you will love this app. And if you don’t care about the money, this is my #1 recommendation.
Sygic: GPS Navigation:
Sygic offers a decent GPS navigation for free. FREE? But there’s a catch. After downloading the app, you may want to choose the “maps.” In other words, you have to pay to get access to other maps. For example, North America map pack will cost you $29.99. Europe pack is $38.99 at the time of writing.
There is one more problem with this app. It has a tricky learning curve. When I first purchased the app, it was not easy to understand how it really works. Trying to plan a route was not easy at all and the support team was not super-responsive.
I hope with time the app and their support will only improve. You should check it out though… and see if you personally like it.
Conclusion: Best Offline GPS App Award Goes To…
Okay, so we have listed my favorite GPS navigation apps. But if I had to choose one… just one… app that you should download and install on your iPhone, then what will it be? Which app deserves my imaginary award for its features, functionality, and pricing?
Will it be Google Maps because it’s free and continually updated?
Or Garmin’s Navigon app that costs a bomb?
Maybe it’s CoPilot because it’s cheaper than Navigon?
Well, let me say this quickly: CoPolit takes the award!
I have saved so much money with this one app that I count myself as a “genius.” No kidding. Whenever I see fellow travelers, they always have to talk about the roaming charges. But I am all cool with my CoPilot and Google Maps app.
I am the hero explaining the world that we have offline GPS apps!
If you have any recommendation (I have tried ‘em all but still), let me know. Or if you have questions about any of these GPS apps, feel free to drop your comments and I will answer them for you!