Google is the undisputed master of all things to do with maps, and their GPS navigation software is likewise top of the roost. It’s fast, incredibly detailed and offers the kind of global coverage that most companies (Apple?) can only dream of. But there is one big problem with it. If you are roaming abroad it sucks up data when downloading new map tiles en route, which can turn out very expensive.
On a recent trip to Europe I was sent a warning by my network that I was exceeding my roaming data quota because I used Google Navigation for over 13 hours of driving. We’ll leave aside the stupidity of the network not taking this type of use into account when allocating ‘normal’ levels of data roaming, and focus on a pretty good alternative which does away with the problem altogether.
The NAVFree GPS Navigation freeware for Android offers all the same kind of sophisticated turn by turn voice guided car navigation of the big brands like TomTom or Google, but it also offers the ability to download relevant maps onto your handset, so there’s no need for data access when you’re traveling. The maps vary in size depending on the country or area you select, and because it’s based on Open Street Maps, the maps are constantly being updated by the ‘crowd’ as the public at large are now called.
The design of the program is also top class for a free product, with full 3D, 2D, and list directions, re-routing, downloadable male and female voices, and generally all the functionality you would expect from a full commercial package. The only quibble is the fact that the maps are definitely not as complete as Google, so there are going to be times when you need to refer back to the King in order to get to your destination.
But even with this limitation it means you still save a bunch of money on data downloads, since you’re typically only going to reference local needs. The one thing I do wish ALL of these satnav companies would do is put the Detour button prominently on the front page of the software, so you can do an instant route change if you hit a jam, but most of them instead bury the button – as here – layers deep in the interface. It’s dumb.
Apart from these small niggles, this is definitely a worthy download and I found it to be *much* more accurate than Waze and generally as accurate as Google in most day to day use. For now it won’t completely replace the Google navigation app, but it’s a keeper for trips abroad when cost is an issue.