If you are among those who has been very disappointed with the new maps on iOS 6, you are in very good company.
Fortunately, there are a number of free apps out on the iTunes App Store that will let you find your way around town, without paying anything more than data charges.
They might not be as good as Google Maps, but while we wait for a Google Maps app (will one ever come?), they should be more than handy for all ye looking for a spot of navigation without paying a penny for the app itself.
Perhaps the best free navigation app for those in India, Navfree claims to operate on what it says is “map data created by a community of thousands of users around the world.” Yes, we know that may not sound too reassuring to some people, but the app does work rather well for well-known areas. It gets data from OpenStreetMap and also has the massive benefit of working offline (it is a 157 MB one time download, that said). It comes with features like navigating to an address, points of interest, the option to send location to your social networks also to tweak to night mode, if need be.
Global Navigator Free
Its interface might not set the world on fire, but there is no doubting the utility of this handy app. Actually, the app lets you choose from a variety of maps - including Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Bing Maps, and Google Earth - as you make your way around town. You can save routes and do local and global searches, but do so online if you have unlimited data connection, because this app heads to the Web to pull apps. You will need to upgrade to the Pro version if you want offline browsing. Still, if it is just a quick navigation fix you are looking for with lots of maps to choose from, then this is not a bad option at all.
PD Maps Worldwide Edition
Another app that works by letting users access a number of mapping services through its interface, PD Maps can summon up maps from OpenStreet, Yahoo!, Google, Bing, Panoramio and a few others, and in a rather innovative twist, lets you choose not just the mapping but also the routing service. So one could actually choose to see a map in Bing and opt for Google’s routing service, which is neat but not recommended, as it does take forever to load even on a 3G connection. Which incidentally is something we need to warn you about - there is no offline navigation here (unless you are willing to pay for it), so be ready to dole out data charges every time you go navigating.
It is called the social GPS app by many people and remains one of our firm favourites among free navigation options. Although it first made waves because it allowed users to share traffic data with each other, alerting people to jams on the way, and also to swap messages in the process, Waze is also a very nifty navigator in its own right and works very briskly too. It comes with social media connectivity as well as the ability to join or create driving groups to find out what’s happening on routes you frequently use. The spellings of some Indian locations can be a bit weird but we love the speed with which the app works and its social angle. And it is totally free - no hidden print - with maps that get updated fairly regularly.
We can hear the howls of protest from those who have used this nifty little app in the past. Yes, Glympse is not classically a navigation app - it is designed for the user to be able to share their location and travel route with a select group of people. But it DOES have a navigation aspect. If you are sent a person’s location, you can use the app to get directions to either that location or their destination, using Google Maps online. No, not classical navigation as we know it, but very very handy for those occasions when you have to see a person rather than visit a place and do not know where they are. Just make sure both of you have Glympse installed on your devices.
If you are really yearning for the Google Maps experience, well, it is just a URL away. Point your browser to http://maps.google.com and you will be able to see Google Maps in all their glory and get navigation options that include walking, driving and public transport. No, it won’t work as smoothly as it did through the native app but if you have a decent 3G connection, it will work well enough to be useful. Just add it to your home screen and get Google Maps back on your iOS in Web app form. Handy until the real Google Maps returns, yes?