The IT Guy: Can't find your way around with Apple's new maps app?

theitguy@islandpacket.comOctober 7, 2012 

For those who don't follow the tech industry daily, some folks who downloaded iOS 6 a few weeks ago received an unpleasant surprise when they found the new Apple Maps app had replaced Google Maps on their iPhones and iPads.

While it is nice to finally have voiced-guided turn-by-turn directions built into the device, for those who are used to the quality and accuracy of Google Maps it was a little jarring not to have said quality anymore.

In fact, the street I live on, which has been around since 2006, wasn't in the new Apple Maps. To be fair, it took Google an entire three years to find me as well, which just serves to illustrate how difficult it is to create mapping software.

So why the change? Some say Apple is simply continuing its purge of now-competitor Google's software off its devices. Others say since Google never licensed its turn-by-turn technology to Apple in the first place, preferring to keep that advantage for Android, Apple had to do its own thing to stay competitive.

In any case, at least until Google releases a stand-alone maps app that includes turn-by-turn directions, those of us who live on streets unknown to Apple are on our own. Thankfully, this is where Apple's huge advantage comes in handy -- their large bank of apps. Here are some alternatives:

NAVIGON USA

This has long been my go-to GPS app, as I used their stand-alone GPS units back in the days when people still did that. Let's get the cost out of the way right up front -- $39.95 for U.S. maps is a lot to swallow compared with cheaper alternatives. However, for your money you get a lane assistant, spoken street names, huge POI (points of interest) database, speed assistant, local public transit info and much more.

Also key for me -- the ability not only to download maps to the device (which comes in handy if you hit a cellular dead zone out on the road) but also only download maps of the states you need. For example, if you're driving to Maryland for vacation, you just want South Carolina, North Carolina and the way -- no need to waste your precious gigabytes on data for California or Texas.

WAZE

On the other end of the spectrum is Waze, a completely free turn-by-turn app. Waze is the only social GPS app I'm aware of, as it relies on the community of Waze users to supply new information, such as a new road. It's also great for real time info about an accident at a busy intersection or road construction and that data can be updated in real time for other users. Obviously since the app is free, you shouldn't expect many bells and whistles like with other GPS apps, but in this case you get a whole lot more for your money.

GPS BY TELENAV

If you're looking for something in between, GPS by TeleNav might fit the bill. You still get useful features such as lane assistant and speed trap alerts, but at a fraction of the cost. The app is free to download, but costs $2.99 a month or $9.99 for a whole year of service via in-app purchase.

Morgan Bonner is pre-press manager and a systems administrator for the Packet and Gazette.

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