GPS devices can be big and bulky, slow to start up, and expensive — plus their suction pads rarely stick to your windshield. The good news: You don’t need them anymore. Plenty of free and premium (i.e., paid) navigation apps for your mobile phone will help you get wherever you need to go. Here are a few of our favorites.
Google Maps. The Google Maps app for iPhone works best when you’re on foot or have a passenger to narrate, because it doesn’t provide voice instructions to go with the satellite image of your location. On Android phones, however, the app includes a text-to-speech function, making it a fine substitute for a more expensive GPS device. On both platforms, you can use Google Maps to find nearby businesses and their street addresses, which is a handy tool if you’re searching for, say, the nearest pizza joint.
MapQuest for Mobile Web. Yes, MapQuest is still around, and it works on iPhones. The mobile app lacks some more sophisticated features, such as real-time traffic information and street-level views, that other GPS apps have, but it provides voice-narrated turn-by-turn directions, which is usually all you need when you’re behind the driver’s wheel.
Hop Stop. Whereas most GPS apps won’t help you take the bus or subway, Hop Stop will. This handy app walks you through public transit maps to help you find the quickest route to your destination. If you’re walking, it even tells you how many calories you’re burning en route. Hop Stop is available for Windows, Apple, and Android platforms.
MotionX-GPS Drive. This iPhone and iPad app offers just about everything a traditional GPS device does, from live traffic maps that announce traffic accidents and congestion to turn-by-turn voice guidance. The app costs $1 to download, plus a $25 annual subscription fee.
MobileNavigator. Part of Garmin, Navigon’s MobileNavigator app (pictured) offers a wide array of sophisticated GPS features in addition to turn-by-turn directions, including weather reports and forecasts, parking assistance, speed limit warnings, and even personalized routes planned according to your driving style and the time of day. Available for iPhone, Android, and Windows, the app costs $60 for the North America (full) version, or $30 each for its three regional editions.