Apr 13 AT 11:06 PM Jeff Uberstine 75 Comments

Ultimate GPS showdown for Android

I am always on the hunt for the newest and greatest apps and GPS services are no exception. Are phone based GPS apps really better than personal navigation devices? I believe they are. Phone based GPS systems have the ability to do much more complex tasks that would be impossible without a wireless data network. With five different GPS apps available to Android, which one is best?

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Note: To make this easy I have listed the apps below in order from my highest recommendation to lowest recommendation.

Google Maps Navigation

Google Maps with navigation is available for Android 1.6 and higher. This suite has proven itself and is currently the most popular GPS app for Android 1.6 users and above. It includes many features that no other GPS apps are able to provide, such as Street View and Satellite views. Another nice feature is that it integrated with Google Buzz, which allows you to view "Buzzes" right on the map, at the location they were posted. Google Maps also features reviews on many of the points of interest.

Pros:

  • Most Points of Interest
  • Live Traffic
  • Offers a street view of your destination
  • Satellite views
  • Maps are very detailed and up to date
  • Free

Cons:

  • Maps are not stored on the device so if you lose cell phone reception and leave the route it caches, things can go very wrong.
  • The text to speech engine can be hard to understand at times
  • No way to display your current speed
  • Can only navigate you to one place at a time, you cannot do multi-destination routing

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CoPilot

If you do a lot of traveling and often travel off your planned routes CoPilot is for you. CoPilot's software works on maps that are downloaded to the SD card on the phone. The larger storage of a SD card allows you to fit the maps for all of North America on the phone. CoPilot also has a nice interface that is easy to use while driving. If you are used to a conventional GPS system like a Garmin, CoPilot is the closest you will come in terms on interface. I also prefer the voice alerts much better on CoPilot than on Google Maps. Copilot does everything you need in a GPS app, even thought it may not include some of the fancier features like Street View.

Pros:

  • Maps stored on SD card
  • Live features such as weather, traffic and fuel prices
  • Most driver rriendly UI
  • Supports multi-destination routing

Cons:

  • Price, the app costs $29.99 USD but is only a one time fee
  • Requires an SD card with at least 2GB of free space

Waze

The best way to describe Waze is GPS mixed with Google Buzz and Twitter. People who use Waze are called "Wazers". Every Wazer is shown on the app, so when you are driving you can see other people using the app near you. Wazers can post anything from speed traps to car crashes on the map (you can even include pictures). You also have the ability to message other people on the map inside the app. In areas with many Wazers the maps works great and sometimes even has more up to date traffic then Google Maps. The Waze app also turns driving into a game by letting you drive over virtual objects which give you points. There is even a leader board for this point system. Currently I wouldn't trust the app to navigate me to places of importance, but it makes driving much more fun. I believe that in a few years time this app will be very popular and become more accurate as more people begin to use it.

Pros:

  • A very social GPS app that can integrate into Twitter
  • The ability to see other people around you using the app
  • Report traffic and even take pictures of the incident and post it to the Waze Map
  • Driving becomes a game, which makes trips fun
  • Free

Cons:

  • GPS maps are not very accurate in places with few or no Wazers
  • Does not always take you on the best route
  • UI needs improvement
  • Occasionally crashes or lags
  • Waze doesn't allow routes longer than 200 miles

Wisepilot


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WisePilot is another GPS app for Android. Honestly I feel this app doesn't set itself apart from any of the other GPS apps enough to justify a $69.95 per year price tag. Yes, it does get you to point to point. It does have points of interest and voice alerts, but so do the free apps along with CoPilot. The one thing that it does do, is it lets you manage all your routes online. This can be a very nice feature if you are planning a trip. You can map out an entire trip from start to finish, including places to eat and the gas stations you will have to stop at, all on their website.

Pros:

  • Manage trips and favorites on their site via MYWISEPILOT

Cons:

  • Pricey, The app costs $69.95 per year
  • UI not as polished as I would like
  • Doesn't set itself above any other GPS apps

Telenav

Telenav was the first big thing for GPS apps on Android. Many G1 users began to use this app before Google Maps integrated navigation. Telenav gives you access to over 10 million points of interest, gas prices, traffic and much more. Although it was once the most popular GPS app, it has now fallen to the bottom of the list. Due to its high price tag and lack to support all devices, Telenav has earned itself my least favorable GPS app of the group.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Audible directions that make sense

Cons:

  • No support for more recent devices
  • Most expensive app at $69.99 per year

Conclusion

Out of all the GPS apps I reviewed, I am still partial to Google Maps Navigation. For me this app does exactly what I need it to. It functions as my yellow pages and also gives me reviews on places I might go. I don't travel much out of town, but if I did I could see how paying for CoPilot would benefit me and I would recommend this option to anyone who needs the maps to be stored locally. CoPilot also has several features Google Maps does not offer such as fuel prices and multi-destination routing.

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Jeff is a contributor on Android and Me. He loves electronics and everything about them. Some of his hobbies are android, computers and cars.

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  • stalker

    awesome.. I like that.

  • http://Website Kam

    Where is Sygic???

    That is one of the best !

    • Jeff Uberstine

      it wasnt available for the phones I tested on :-(

      • http://www.costaricaretireonss.com George Lundquist

        I am trying to find an APP that shows GPS coordinates ESPECIALLY ALTITUDE.

        • http://Website James

          You want GPS-Status it gives you altitude and coordinates as well as orientation.

        • juneilao

          yeah bro..
          Me too… This is the MOST important thing to remember to application developer or maker… Show me your coordinates.. Longitude, latitude and altitude . . .

    • http://Website Miguel

      A search for “Sygic” yields no results in the Market. I personally think that if an app is not available in the Market, then it doesn’t deserve to be reviewed in this comparison. The average user is going to depend on the Market to find these apps.

      • samuel

        u r wrong sygic is now on market already

  • http://Website Haggie

    Don’t forget MapDroyd which has downloadable maps so you don’t need a cell signal. I ride my motorcycle on alot of backcountry canyon roads that are miles from a cell tower.

    • http://Website Miguel

      MyDroid is essentially an app containing Maps. It is not a reliable “Navigation” app. It would be the same as carrying a paper map on your person.

  • http://Website Alex

    What? No love for iGO?

    • http://Website Miguel

      “iGo” isn’t even available in the Market.

  • http://Website Kristoffer

    Living in Europe, without access to paid apps and still on Android 1.5 on my HTC Hero, most of the reviewed apps in this test is not an option for me. However, I have tried out nDrive and Navigon on my phone, and I liked them both. They are available for free in the appstore, with free trial of the maps for a limited time. When the trial period expires you get the option to purchase the maps from within the application. I was a bit surprised that these applications were missing. I would love to see them compared with the applications you tested in this article.

    • http://Website kerry

      TeleNav is looking to change that, through the use of a device that will show you images to places in your area that have been tagged.

      Actually, garmin had already conceptualize this on their GPS brand although the unveiling ot ‘it’ is not yet visible.
      Cheap GPS Guide.

  • http://Website moombe

    Sad you forgot or could not test Navigon. It’s really a very nice one, very good map quality, true view for exists on higways, etc.
    You should give it a try, it’s free to 90 days or so.

    • http://Website Miguel

      Why is it not available in the Market then?

      • http://Website Jack

        It is available in the European Market. Believe it or not the world doesn’t revolve around you only.

        • http://Website sandt

          irony owns you

  • http://Website Zed

    You really should spec where these apps are available and what countries their maps support in a review. Android covers much more than just the states.

  • http://Website Garth

    You forgot to mention the “con” that Google Navigation is only available in the US.

  • http://twitter.com/Stefing Stefing

    Google Maps Navigation is not available outside the US.
    (Outside the US is where most of the Earth’s humans live)

    • http://Website gcims

      it’s inside the USA where most of the MONEY is…..

      • http://Website Yui714

        You mean where the most debt is? xD America is a joke.

        • http://Website Manui

          It’s obvious from you comment where most of the IDIOTS are. And it’s not the US.

    • http://Website Wolfos

      It is.
      It’s just not a standalone app anymore, it’s included in the latest version of google maps.

    • 2zar

      google maps are available and work perfectly in India…..

  • http://+1forNavigon britmic

    After CoPilot wouldn’t install on my Nexus One, I found Navigon and glad I did :)

    Navigon is simple (perhaps limited for some) but does the trick for me – can navigate to addresses in your Contacts, too.

    • http://Website Kristoffer

      I have tried Navigon on a friends iPhone and it has a lot more features. I have also borrowed a friends “physical” Navigon GPSr a couple of times and that – of course – has even more features. I guess (and hope) that the Android version will catch up with the iPhone version soon. Personally I really miss some basic features such as estimated time of arrival to destination, and traffic information (re-routing in case of congestions, road works, accidents and such).

  • http://Website peto

    there is also http://www.sygic.com

    with maps:
    Europe
    South-East Asia
    North America
    Brazil
    Australia + NZ
    HK-MC-TW
    Colombia
    Russia
    Gulf Countries
    India

    • http://Website mauriceh

      It costs 62.99 EUROS, or $85 US Dollars!

  • http://Website Guido

    You forgot to mention NDrive, I use it on my milestone and it rocks, latest version runs really light and fast, maps are so up to date !

    • http://Website Raj

      Does NDrive have:
      1. speed alerts
      2.. School Zones
      3. Camera alerts

  • http://Website Miguel

    Good review. I don’t fault the author for sticking to apps that are available only in the Market. Most of the alternatives mentioned in the comments are apps that geared towards international users anyway.

    Most of these types of comparisons incite many people to gripe about dozens of other products no being included in the comparison. Engadget conducted a comparison recently of different phone OS navigation apps and people were howling about all types of different apps excluded, including the iPhone Map App.

    Which is fine of course, since I like to hear about alternative options from other users anyway.

  • http://Website Miguel

    Interesting article in my local paper today that tries to explain delays in GPS map updates etc:

    http://www.projo.com/news/content/FROM_DOT_TO_GPS_04-14-10_QBHTOGM_v37.3cebae0.html

  • http://Website Tony

    If only Google would integrate Places with Google Navigation, then it would be close to perfect for my uses.

  • http://Website Gregory

    I am currently using CoPilot Live 8, iGo MyWay & Navigon. I removed Google Maps through root because if my 3g cuts out while driving around I would be lost. Better to have maps cached to my SD card with no ads knowing full well that I don’t have to worry about my signal and data plan.

  • http://Website zztop

    Can’t understand what good one finds into sygic. Ndrive? Another non-keeper. I’ve tried Ndrive, and uninstalled it on the same day. Can wait until Garmin comes out with some app for Androids. So far – GOOGLE rocks !

  • DistortedLoop

    First gripe with the article, these aren’t “GPS” apps per se, they are “navigation” apps. Maybe the two terms are starting blend but there is a difference. There are dozens of GPS type apps that don’t provide navigation or traffic, some that provide traffic and directions but no turn-by-turn, etc.

    Next gripe is that you failed to address what I think is a must on any modern network connected navigator/GPS: the ability to RE-ROUTE you based on live traffic conditions. The problem with Google Maps is that even though it has live traffic built in, it doesn’t do anything with it other than display it. Google Maps even warns that it doesn’t let traffic conditions affect selected route.

    I’ve used Navigon, TomTom, and Co-Pilot on the iPhone. On that platform, Navigon was clearly the best, and last I checked, Navigon and Co-Pilot actually do provide re-routing. Navigon on the iPhone is so good that I actually use it, despite the much smaller screen, instead of my car’s built-in non-network connected (ie., trafficless) navigator. Co-Pilot was a close second, but if I recall correctly, there were issues with the maps not being up to date in many areas.

    If you know your route (and alternates) and traffic is your biggest concern (it is for me usually) rather than directions, there’s a great free app called Inrix Traffic! that has live and forecasted traffic conditions for both highways/freeways and large surface streets. The Android version is hobbled, but they claim they’re working on bringing the cool iPhone features (not free) to it. The killer feature is that you can select your current location and destination and Traffic! will tell you what the fastest route there is. You can even build your own custom routes to be considered. I can’t wait for them to bring the Android version to parity with the iPhone.

    Thanks for the review, though, Co-Pilot looks worth a quick check to see if it offers anything more than the free Google Maps.

  • http://Website Floyd

    I tried CoPilot on your article’s recommendation and had trouble installing it and ended up paying twice for it. Certain software features advertised did not work and I was unable to get any response from their tech support. Finally after a week I get email from them saying that they don’t have to refund the extra $30 that I paid for the program because I had activated it. I would not recommend this product or this company.

  • http://Website mauriceh

    Co-pilot does not seem to be getting great reviews.
    Taking a look at reviews at androlib site:

    http://www.androlib.com/android.application-comment.com-alk-copilot-marketplace-na-full-jwFB.aspx

    typically:
    “after Droid update to 2.1 rendered this GPS useless”
    or:
    “After update to android 2.1 on motor droid doesn’t work in landscape view now and it is locked that way with distorted screen.”

  • http://Website Brico

    Does Copilot need internet connection to work, and give turn-by-turn directions?
    If not which app can?

    • http://Website Dave John

      No, CoPilot does not need an internet connection barring your initial download(s).

      The software runs on your phone accessing maps stored on your SD card.

      You can download different voices when you install the software if you want.

      It gives turn-by-turn voice guidance and I highly recommend it.

  • http://Website Airborne

    How about iGO & Navigon?

  • http://Website LongWalk

    Any GPS apps that would be good for hiking?

  • http://www.turboirc.com/tgps Michael

    I just ported Turbo GPS to android.

    Take a look
    http://www.turboirc.com/tgps.

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  • http://tiptail.com Cynthia

    I purchased CoPilot for a trip to Denmark (I live in the USA) as it claimed to have GPS only functionality so I would need data, which would probably have given me a huge phone bill. However, CoPilot took days to install, with major help (not good help, mind you) from their support. And at the end, it corrupted my MicroSD card, and wouldn’t reinstall, and now they will not give me a refund for the awful software. My review of copilot… DO NOT GET IT.

  • http://Website manuel

    weird, in this same site at http://androidandme.com/2010/09/applications/copilot-live-offers-offline-turn-by-turn-for-a-price-giveaway/ the aouthor says voice navigation is better in google than in copilot…

  • http://Website Sauce

    You can also import and export trips to/from CoPilot from/to Google Earth to plan trips with many waypoints/destinations. It also has quite comprehensive route-planning preferences.

    Would be perfect for me except I can’t get it to give me any spoken instructions and the menus don’t quite display properly on my phone. Hopefully they’ll issue updates to address compatibility with new devices because until then I’m having to use the more basic Google Maps Navigation.

  • http://Website Dewed

    CoPilot Live requires 2GB storage, but only if you download the whole US. You can pick and choose which maps to get. You can get just a certain city, or a single state if you want. I just get the state I need. You do have to be connected to internet to download the maps (ie wifi). Maps are free. They offer a free version of CoPilot Live for 30 days. You can continue to use it for free after that, with less features.

  • http://tsawer.net aymen

    I used Copilot in Toronto/Ottawa/Montréal(Canada) and Paris(France) really I was amazed and very satisfied with its reactivity ! I recommend It
    I use it with my HTC desire

    • http://Website Spudp800

      I agree, I have ben using this on my x10 both on 1.6 & now on 2.1 (following the long overdue upgrade!) And I have had none of the issues above … I would recommend this app without hesitation … Like the idea of waze so testing that at the moment too.

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  • http://Website 703

    Nothing can touch Ovi Maps for offline navigation.

    • boyes melvin

      You’re totally correct. I have moved on to android, but keep my Nokia in my car to use Ovi Maps offline navigation. Nothing on android touches it. and Ovi maps is free!!!

  • http://Website Charles Gary

    CoPilot is actually only $5 for just the USA maps.
    http://www.alk.com/copilot/android/default.asp

  • http://Website Dave John

    CoPilot…. I recommend it over any other SatNav I’ve used… including the one built into my Ford Mondeo (I’m based in the UK by the way).

    It is responsive, accurate, clear and concise.

    I have a rooted HTC Hero and have changed the ROM a number of times (now running Elelinux 7.0.0-RC1 v0.8.1 – Android version 2.3.2). Each time I have reinstalled CoPilot without a problem… it is SUPERB!!

    If this can run on a “good, old Hero”, I don’t understand why there are so many of you struggling.

    GET IT NOW!!!!

  • http://Website Jessie

    Hey,

    I am a fashion photographer and travel across eurore and china with my Moto Droid. I have jsut bought an incredible Android app ‘GeoTask Alert System’ which allows me remember everything during my travel using google maps. I now never forget to carry passport, mouth freshners, currency denominations, travellers cheque, photo book….almost everything I need is on google maps….Realy awesome…

    Just for all you people for what a great way to use google maps…
    http://tinyurl.com/4wzdus7

    Enjoy !!!

  • http://koowie.com Koowie

    I find Co Pilot to be very good.

  • http://Website tbgeek

    i know google map is good for navigation, but i am stuck on how to use it well in my google android phone

  • http://rushome1@gmail.com clarence c

    This is good

  • http://Website Satvic

    CoPilot 8.2xx worked out great on my 6 month trip to Seville, Spain on my Nexus One. Being on a prepaid plan with no internet (cut off any mobile data usage with Cyanogenmod OS – mobile & data service in Spain is ridiculously priced) I was using CoPilot for walking around town and for my trip to the ocean. After using stand alone Garmin unit in a car I for many years I was so spoiled that I found CoPilot interface very strange an illogical, had to locate and read the online manual to figure out how to set the settings right, way to route through multiple way points, optimize & save your trips it does seem to offer more features than a $300 garmin unit. In the end, I’ll be very happy to return to my Garmin unit but CoPilot will remain on my SD card for all the over seas trips. Make sure to bring your $5 high end Walmart car charger with you or you’ll pay 10€ for the cheapest chinese knock off … and don’t forget to turn off CoPilot when you’re done, or it’ll drain your phone in under 2 hours :)

  • http://alfredofacebook manuel gomez

    Me gusta de la buenisima

  • roger

    What about hiking and OHV?
    All the above apps are useless as soon as get off the streets and step foot on a hiking trail or riding a fire road through the mountains. Useless useless useless.

  • http://Website Jan

    Hi People, Being a strict Linux user I just purchased the Samsung I9000 after I dumped the Nokia E7. I am very impressed with the software you can download with the Samsung. However I am NOT impressed with the GPS system on the Samsung. That software does not talk to you and that is very dangerous when you are driving a car. My question is is there a way around that problem? Alternatively is there GPS software which is equivalent to that one on the Nokia E7??

  • adhie ceepee

    ada yg bs bantu map copilot 8 yg asia g????

  • Aeneas

    Does anyone know of GPS navigation software for Android phones which does Not require any realtime Internet interface (which wastes money unnecessarily), and has text-to-speech ?
    The maps should be installed into the flash memory of the phone permanently, and the phone should use text-to-speech voice to direct the driver.
    These products listed here are useless in this respect.

  • Bubba

    The us is the best country that’s why Google. Only supports the us

  • 2zar

    MORONS google maps are available and work perfectly in India…..

  • Angyork

    Which app will let me navigate off line — apart from initial mas download? By saying offline, I mean no data needed to all of a sudden in the middle of nowhere, ask to go to an address I have never been to before. I use Navfree and it needs a connection to find the co-ordinates for the new location.

    I am thinking of getting Co-pilot and just want to know if it suffers the same fate?

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  • Lorne duncan

    Maybe you guys should learn the difference between GPS and Sat Nav.