Best free sat nav app
- Street View function lets you see your destination from ground-level
- Multiple routing options: public transport, car, cycle, walk
- Free and available on more than one platform
Google Maps is one of the smallest apps to download onto your smartphone or tablet, at just 13.4MB, but that’s because it doesn’t include maps. Instead, the app downloads them on the go, rather than saving them onto your device. What this means is that you must have at least a 3G connection or be connected to Wi-Fi when inputting your destination – which makes this an app best-suited for motorists who spend their time in the city. It’s also worth bearing that in mind when travelling, as it’ll use up your data allowance.
Like the browser version of Google Maps, the search function of the mobile app accepts any input – postcode, place name or full address – but it can be slow to load the maps sometimes, even when you have full signal. It’ll make suggestions if you get the spelling wrong, or when there’s more than one town with the name you’re looking for, which can be useful when you’re in a hurry.
The display is simple and the audio instructions are clear, and it has recently been given an update so you get lane guidance when on the motorway. Features-wise, it has Street View and traffic, but misses functions like safety camera alerts and speed limits. However, the app’s database is a lot better than that of Nokia Here and Apple Maps, and it accurately located our chosen destination to within 10 metres of its true position. The directions will also run in the background, so you don’t need the app open to hear where to turn.
The app is available for Android and Apple devices, but what’s really impressive is the number of different options it includes. There’s turn-by-turn navigation for in the car, as well as pedestrian guidance, cycle routes and public transport. Each of these work seamlessly with each other, so you can see how long it’d take via foot, bike, car, bus or train before setting off.