Is Google Maps the best navigation app

The 5 best navigation apps for 2021: For Android and iOS

For mobile phones, tablets and smartwatches

Today the cell phone is often used as a navigation system. We'll show you the five best navigation apps for Android and iOS and give you practical tips and tricks.

When looking for a good navigation solution or a map service, you will be overwhelmed by the range of apps. Hundreds of paid and free navigation apps or online services vie for your attention and each is of course the best. Many programs are similar in terms of functionality, but there are also serious differences.

Some navigation apps for iPhone and Android only work online, others offer, for example, a lane assistant or the ability to search for petrol stations or restaurants along the route. We have selected the five best navigation and map solutions for you, focusing on mobile apps, because in most cases you always have your smartphone with you.

All map services at a glance

Here you get to the download category with all route planners and map services.

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In the following, we will show you the five best navigation apps for 2021 as well as important tips for finding the right navigation app.

5th place: Waze

Waze relies fully on the community. If you use the navigation app, you can actively become part of the user community and report traffic jams or accidents, for example. Thanks to the hints, the app can help you avoid traffic jams. Unfortunately, there is no lane assistant, and offline navigation is also missing. But Waze is free and offers many setting options. You can use the app on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

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4th place: Magic Earth

The Magic Earth navigation app is free and offers attractive functions. The app shows you additional destinations such as petrol stations or parking spaces on the map and identifies permanently installed speed cameras. You can also choose from different map styles, including a terrain, satellite or 3D view. The navigation also works offline, the app is compatible with Android and iOS.

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3rd place: TomTom GO Navigation

Another heavyweight among mobile navigation solutions is TomTom GO Navigation. The app offers everything you would expect from a navigation system, including lane assistant. Part of the application is an excellent display of traffic jams, accidents or obstructions and it is very easy to use with large buttons. The settings are varied, you can also download all maps and use them offline. You can try TomTom GO Navigation for free for the first 30 days. The app then uses a subscription model. Use will then cost you € 12.99 per year, € 8.99 for six months or € 1.99 per month.

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2nd place: Here WeGo

Here WeGo is one of the best navigation solutions for smartphones and tablets and is completely free. The app works online and offline, offers you many setting options and shows both traffic and speed warnings. A lane assistant is also integrated. You can use Here WeGo on iOS and Android.

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1st place: Google Maps

For us, Google Maps is the clear test winner. The service is available to you free of charge on all platforms, both as an app and as an online service, boasts a wide range of functions and is extremely up-to-date, especially when it comes to the traffic situation. The app is not only suitable for drivers, but also for cyclists and pedestrians. What else Google Maps offers and why we chose the service as the test winner, we'll tell you below.

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That's why Google Maps is the test winner

For us, Google Maps is clearly in first place. The top dog among the map services shines with topicality and reliably informs you about traffic jams or road closures and at the same time offers the opportunity to bypass them. In navigation mode, you can always choose from different routes and navigate by voice or only receive warnings of dangers and delays, which is particularly useful for commuters.

You have the option of being guided to your destination by car, bike, on foot or by public transport. Of course, you can also enter intermediate destinations in case you have to go to the flower shop quickly before visiting the parents. As with all common programs, you can choose between a map, satellite and terrain view, and the current traffic situation can also be displayed.

A lane assistant (2D) is included as well as an area search, with which you can search for restaurants, cinemas, snack bars or other localities, among other things. Google also scores with this: The service now shows you the times of the day shops, restaurants and the like are most visited. This is how you avoid long queues. This function is currently also being expanded for local public transport.

Google has also made its app offline-capable so that you can use it anywhere. In addition to the navigation function, Google Maps is of course also suitable as a classic map service. You can measure distances, download and save map sections or look at locations in the satellite view.

The application also works in conjunction with smartwatches. So that you can use Google Maps optimally, we have explained the most important functions for you in a separate overview. Google Maps is available free of charge for iOS, Android and as an online service.

Bicycle sat nav and hiking apps

A great navigation app and route planner especially for cyclists and hikers is "komoot". You can use the app online for free after you have also registered with the service free of charge. You download offline maps by region, they cost a low single-digit amount, you can also purchase them at a reduced price in a complete package. Komoot can be used wonderfully for bicycle navigation and as a hiking app, but the application also offers you even more exciting options.

So you can plan hiking, mountain or cycling tours, where you can choose your fitness level and determine whether you are out on a racing bike or mountain bike, for example. A suitable route will then be suggested to you according to these criteria. Special routes for e-bikes are new in the area. You can also discover tours from other users as well as tips from the editorial team.

Your routes can be tracked with the app, and it also shows you important data such as speed or distance covered while you are driving. Komoot runs on iOS and Android and works just like Google Maps with a smartwatch.

In addition to the one-time purchase of regional packages, the tour app now also offers a premium version that requires a monthly subscription. Additional functions are activated, including special maps for hiking or mountain biking and the planning of tours lasting several days. You can find out who Komoot Premium is for in the linked guide.

If you don't like Komoot, there are a number of good alternatives. For cyclists, we have tested navigation apps for Android and iPhone for you. We also looked at special bicycle navigation devices and give you important tips for your bike tour. If you would like to take your smartphone with you as a companion on hikes, we will show you the best apps for iOS and Android for hiking via GPS.

Navigation apps for motorcyclists

Route planners for motorcyclists are rather few and far between in the world of apps, and bikers usually use the right navigation device. One of the most popular applications was certainly Navigon Cruiser, but Navigon has since left the navigation app business. A good alternative is "Calimoto".

The application was launched in 2016 by a three-person start-up from Berlin and does a lot of things right. You can plan and record your tours, create a circuit, navigate of course and be warned of dangers such as speed cameras. The planning of routers also works via your computer - here you can also see the tours you have taken.

The 10 best touring apps for motorcyclists
The 10 best touring apps for motorcyclists

Calimoto is free of charge in the basic functions, you also get a free card, for example Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, but sometimes only half a federal state. You get more functions as a premium member: Here you get a hazard warning and a route planner for even more winding routes.

The app also offers a precise preparation of your tours in the form of statistics including acceleration, lean angle and various other parameters. The premium version costs 5 euros per week or 40 euros a year. You can also activate all cards for around 70 euros, even without a premium subscription.

Offline navigation: save mobile data and the battery

Many navigation programs now also offer an offline mode and thus navigation without the Internet. This of course saves mobile data and also saves your battery. Another advantage is the navigation in areas with poor cell phone reception or in a non-EU country in order to avoid high roaming charges.

Offline navigation: With these apps you can navigate without an internet connection
Offline navigation: With these apps you can navigate without an internet connection

You simply download the required map material in advance via the WLAN. So make sure that you have enough free space on your smartphone or tablet. Depending on the card package, several gigabytes are sometimes required.

Find the right navigation app

When choosing the right navigation software, the first question that arises is the platform: Do you want to use the program on your smartphone in the car or do you sit down at your PC and plan the whole thing in the classic way from home? You should also know what the program should do.

Would you like to be warned of traffic jams or excessive speeding or do you place more value on a sensible lane assistant and an area search function? Is a simple route description or a city map sufficient? The big top dogs do not take much of the range of functions, only purchase versions still offer one or the other advantage such as a full 3D lane assistant or a speed camera warning.

Is it worth buying navigation software?

The answer is very clear: no! Gone are the days when the functionality of free and paid applications differed significantly. There are great free navigation solutions out there. The map material of the large companies is always up to date, and traffic information is also very up-to-date on your device. Google Maps has done real pioneering work here and provided consumers with first-class data free of charge.

The advantage of paid apps are only subtleties such as a 3D lane assistant or a speed camera detector - if you absolutely need these things, then it is worth using payment software such as TomTom, but you should be aware that in most cases you will have one Pay a mid double-digit amount or take out a subscription. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are an exception here: You can only find really good software in this category as a paid version.

But one thing is certain: buying a real navigation device is no longer absolutely necessary these days, the apps do an excellent job - there is also no need for manual map updates. By the way, if you need a gasoline consumption or fuel cost calculator in addition to the destination navigation or are looking for the cheapest gas station in the area, we also offer you the appropriate apps and programs for this. You can also find suitable parking space finders for your motorhome or camper with us. So that you don't run out of juice during the tour, you should consider equipping your smartphone or tablet with a power bank. Alternatively, there are car chargers for a 12-volt connection for a few euros.

Improve GPS: How to calibrate your compass

If your position is not displayed correctly on the map or the compass is spinning, you usually have to briefly calibrate the compass on your smartphone. Apps also register this and then show you hints, usually with illustrated instructions.

Compass calibration

This is how you calibrate the compass on your cell phone and improve location.

In order to calibrate the internal compass on Android devices and bring the GPS signal back into line, you have to briefly pick up your smartphone and perform a loop movement - the shape of the movement is reminiscent of a lying 8. You do this in the In most cases three times or until your phone vibrates briefly. In the following gallery we show you how to proceed using sample screenshots.

You can also find the option to calibrate the compass in many navigation apps, such as the Google Maps alternative HERE We Go. The app even shows directly when the compass needs to be calibrated. The process remains the same: an eight-shaped movement.

Apple's iPhone and other devices with iOS also have a pre-installed compass app. This requires calibration during setup and the system usually works. If there are problems, restarting and opening the compass app will help. A red point then appears there, which by means of movements fills a circle with white fields. Once turned and moved a little, the compass should work properly again.

Cell phone use while driving: what is allowed?

If you use your mobile phone or tablet for navigation in the car, the question naturally also arises: is that actually allowed? In a separate guide, we explain the legal situation to you and tell you when you can use your cell phone in the car and what penalties threaten if you breach it. A little tip: If possible, simply use the voice control of your smartphone, so you will be less distracted.

Speed ​​camera warning in the car: are speed camera apps legal?

In the Google Play and App Store there are many different speed camera apps that warn you of fixed and mobile speed cameras. More and more providers of navigation apps are also integrating this function into their applications. In our speed camera warning article we explain to you whether you can use speed camera apps in the car.

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