Smartphones have made the navigation boxes of Tomtom, Garmin and you name it almost superfluous. You can also simply use the Tomtom app or Google Maps. Today we look at five ways to find your way with your Android phone in our 5-app review
Previously mentioned, so now we do it briefly, is Google Maps. The navigation app that is on every Android phone. Some users have been complaining a bit about the app lately, because it has become more difficult to navigate with it. It requires a little more searching and a few more finger taps than before the last update, and that is annoying if you want to quickly plug in a route. Fortunately, Google Maps is one of the few apps able to understand your voice, so you can simply speak in Dutch for example: Veembroederhof 65, Amsterdam. And then Google Maps takes you there, where you are also neatly guided around the traffic jams because the app also offers traffic information.
Google Maps uses your mobile data connection. A lot of data is not burned during a ride of two hundred kilometers. It is good to know that it is possible to use part of the map offline. You then draw a square on a part of the card, and save it on the phone. As long as you drive around in that area, you only have data usage for traffic information or having your voice recognized. But not the constant slurping of map information.
Maps from Google is also useful in a different way. You can view street view photos so that you know in advance what the building or street looks like where you need to be. If you’ve never been there before, it can come in handy. Such a photo of your destination is displayed anyway when you arrive at your destination. Satellite photos are also available, but they are usually a few years older than the underlying road map. Then it can happen that you see a forest on the spot where a road has long been.
Nobody has to install Google Maps with an Android phone: it is already on the phone. But Google has also put it in the Google Play Store.
Waze is a navigation app that uses its own social network. The users of Waze tip each other about obstacles and traffic jams. If you encounter a traffic jam, flash or accident, you can quickly pass it on to all other Wazers via a few taps on the smartphone screen. In this way the users of this app help each other.
Unfortunately, Waze is not very good at calculating routes. It has happened during our tests that the app continued to suggest routes that would mean a big detour. Also, a route once determined is not quickly recalculated if you decide to deviate from the route. In most cases, Waze will try to send you back to resume the original route. As far as we are concerned, this clumsiness is just a bit too common.
Waze is free, and the social component gives the app a nice extra.
Who remembers that TomTom had been available as an app on Windows Phone for a long time long before the company started making its own navigation boxes? We still have it running on an HP RX3715 PDA. Neither the cards nor the software are unfortunately refreshed, but with Android that is different. TomTom took a long time to make the crossing from its own navigation boxes to apps. And for Android the Dutch company took even longer. But the app has been available for a while now, albeit somewhat expensive compared to the two free navigation programs above.
TomTom distinguishes itself from most other apps by three things: excellent traffic information (which requires a paid subscription), offline maps (so no mobile data connection is required for navigation without that traffic information) and good routes that are provided by TomTom IQ routes are called. Measured driving times from destination to destination of hundreds of thousands of users have been analyzed and processed in the app, so that you are always presented with the fastest route. It can be different on Monday morning during rush hour than on a quiet Sunday afternoon. This way you also have the chance to ignore the traffic jams without traffic information.
We think the app seems a bit jerky compared to the real TomTom navigation boxes. But those who are not bothered by it have a very good navigation program. In our opinion, the best there is, although TomTom could have put a bit more work into the ease of use
Navigon is part of Garmin, the world market leader in navigation. The originally German navigator also makes navigation boxes. The Android app looks like two drops of water on the software in those boxes. Navigon offers roughly the same functions as TomTom, but the traffic information is less extensive. On the other hand, the app is more expensive.
The maps are located on the telephone and can be kept there with updates at an additional cost. Mobile data traffic is therefore limited and only intended to collect information about traffic and speed cameras.
Navigon was once assessed by us as an app that is somewhat difficult to operate, but to be honest: after a while you get used to everything. The software offers a lot of possibilities, such as navigating to a parking space, the “home” button and navigation if you leave the car and continue on foot. There are too many options to list. This app is also quite pricey, and really only meant for people who are on the road very often
Sygic is very similar to TomTom and that makes sense because the latter’s maps are used. The map information is therefore perfectly fine and the ease of use of this navigation app is also very good. It is possible – which is also possible with TomTom and Navigon – to add so-called POIs (points of interest) to the software. If you are an LPG driver, you can, for example, add a collection of LPG pumps. Adding things like this to the software is not too difficult.
Sygic’s route calculation is worse than TomTom and Navigon. Sometimes, just like with Waze, you get to see completely incomprehensible route suggestions on the screen of your phone. You will find out quickly if you let the app navigate in a known area. Sygic, however, is a great and cheaper alternative to TomTom, where the app also holds that the maps are stored on the device so that the mobile data costs, if necessary, are nil. Important for people who want to navigate abroad, where a mobile data connection is still very expensive. The cards are not included in the app, which is free in the Play Store. Afterwards you have to buy another European card that is currently for sale for just 34 euros, via an in-app purchase