Where on earth would we all be without GPS satellite navigation systems eh? Stuck up the jungle without a paddle, that’s fer sure. Or lost in a village without road signs and no friendly police station. But one of the problems with using the leader of the pack, Google Maps, is the fact that it uses data to download the maps as you’re driving. Which can get very expensive if you’re using GPS while abroad and roaming charges kick in.
There are a number of commercial alternatives to Google Maps which will download the maps to your microSD card and thus avoid charges, and of these my personal favorite is definitely TomTom for smartphones. This app delivers a superb all round navigation experience where it counts, especially when taking long journeys across multiple countries where other navigation products fall down. However it is not cheap, you pay for the sophistication, but if you can afford it, it’s definitely the one to choose.
For those on a budget, there is an alternative however, in the form of OSMAnd Maps & Navigation, which is a free map and navigation app for Android which delivers global maps based on the open source OpenStreetMap data. This combination gives a very credible alternative to Google or the commercial apps, and most importantly it can also work offline, so you don’t need an Internet connection.
The app offers full turn by turn voice guidance, and supports waypoints and automatic re-routing if you have to make a detour for some reason. You can save favorite places and display points of interest (POI) using data from Wikipedia. The free version lets you download up to 16 maps, which should be enough for most people, but if you need more you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version.
The app also supports bicycle and pedestrian routing, as well as public transport information and you can save trip recordings if you’re into that kind of thing, which many cyclists are. All in all it’s an impressive package, and for the price pretty unbeatable. The app supports most countries around the world. You can download the Android app directly from here.