Best alternatives to Google maps on Android smartphones

If you don't like Google Maps for some reason and want to try some different navigation, we have listed some of the best apps that give you top notch navigation.

By Vishal Mathur Published Date
21 - Mar - 2014
| Last Updated
28 - May - 2014
Best alternatives to Google maps on Android smartphones

Navigation apps can be quite handy when it comes to searching for routes to different destinations. These apps can help you save time and money.

But there are two things that will bother your mind in the beginning - which app should I download? And are these apps better than a standalone GPS navigator? Here we help you with an answer to both of these questions, valid as they are.

How they work? The basics

Before we get into the details of each app individually, we need to give you an idea of what a navigation app should ideally bring to the table. First, and most important, is the maps and the navigation. Here, you get two varieties of apps - ones that offer offline navigation, and ones that don’t. The former will download the maps onto your device's internal storage, and doesn’t need 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity later during navigation. This is a huge bonus, saving you on data costs every time you use the app. The apps that do not offer offline maps have the ability to offer additional info like live traffic updates.

Also, it is very important for a navigation app to offer proper address search, trip settings and also an updated listing of landmarks and establishments. Outdated data, either from the map provider’s end or because of your laziness in not updating, could be quite dangerous while driving.

And a very important thing that you should keep in mind - all navigation apps tend to heat up the phone considerably and drain the battery very quickly, while in use. This could have a detrimental effect on the smartphone’s hardware, battery life and longevity. Use these apps only when very necessary, and always fiddle with them with the car safely parked on the side, with the hazard lights switched on.

Sygic India Navigation & Maps
Download here

There are those who swear by Google Maps, but those of you who would prefer an app made by professionals in this domain, the Sygic navigation app for Android getting a price slash from Rs 1399 to "FREE" is a great news. It is by far the best GPS navigation app that we have tested, with excellent offline maps, lane guidance and voice navigation. Sygic for Android continues to use the MapmyIndia maps, with gorgeous 3D maps of certain cities and landmarks. The app's ability to download and store maps for offline use means that you can use it on a phone with no connectivity to the Internet. You can download maps for specific regions across India, which makes the downloads easier to manage, quicker to download and take up less space on the device storage. The interface feels a tad overwhelming at times, but once you do get used to it, it feels quite nicely laid out. In case you haven’t already downloaded this, you might just want to, and keep it on the phone for emergencies.

ANS MapViewer Android (India)
Download here 

The real underdog, amidst all the well known names floating around is the ANS MapViewer Android (India) app made by Ayana Navigation Solutions. The app is available for free, and offers the ability to make quick route calculations. The 3D Maps don’t look as good as Sygic, but we don't mind that, because these maps guide you well enough, including lane guidance which is very helpful in fast moving traffic. Quick search is a neat feature to have, when planning your drive path. The interface isn’t the most modern, when compared to the rivals, but the ability to use navigation even without a data connection is something that will be useful if you get lost in some far-flung area. However, this is not to be confused with the ANS Navigator Android (India) app, which additionally offers traffic updates and address search, but costs Rs 1,399 to download. We would recommend downloading the MapViewer app first, and if you are comfortable with it, then certainly consider upgrading to the full fledged navigation app.

Maps by MapmyIndia
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MapmyIndia is perhaps the first name that comes to mind, when it comes to navigation devices. And that brilliance has been smoothly transferred to smartphones as well. The MapmyIndia navigation app recently got a complete makeover, and the redone UI with the dual color combination of red and white looks absolutely gorgeous which also enhances readability on a cleaner background. Maps are not exactly 3D, but get the job done nonetheless. You additionally get a fairly well laid out set of features that will not confuse someone who may be using a navigation app for the first time. The app does not offer off-line maps, but compensates for that by offering traffic updates on the route you may be traveling.

Tom Tom India
Download here

After being very impressed with the Tom Tom VIA GPS devices, it was somewhat a certainty that the smartphone experience will be equally competent. And it is! Tom Tom has been updating the India specific navigator with new features, bringing the UI experience quite close to the standalone navigators. The maps on the phone’s screen look exactly like they do on a standalone Tom Tom Via devices. Within the city of Delhi and the National capital Region, the navigation is very precise. The lane guidance is something that is very useful, and comes fairly well in advance. The only worry is that in a market full of very competent navigation apps that are available for free, the Tom Tom India app costs Rs 2,050 to download. Perhaps, you may download this for the familiarity bit, but the price certainly needs a re-look.

Vishal MathurVishal Mathur