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Maps to the Rescue

We often ignore the potential of mobile services that are free to use - mapping apps, for instance. Google Maps, Waze, Sygic, and NaviMaps offer much more than turn-by-turn voice navigation.
twitter-logo Nidhi Singal        Print Edition: March 1, 2015
Maps to the Rescue

We often ignore the potential of mobile services that are free to use - mapping apps, for instance. They offer much more than turn-by-turn voice navigation.

Turn-by-turn Voice-guided Navigation

Gone are the days when you had to roll down your car's window to ask for directions. Google Maps is the best when it comes to providing accurate directions. It also supports voice prompt that eliminates the need to look at your phone's screen again and again. NaviMaps, a paid feature, on the other hand, offers real-time turn-by-turn voice guidance in 10 regional languages apart from English.

Offline Maps

Offline maps are useful when travelling to remote areas where Google Maps, which needs the Internet to work, won't be handy. Sygic and NaviMaps work brilliantly in the offline mode, but you need a lot of space to store maps from these heavy apps. For instance, the Sygic app is 43 MB but its India map is a space guzzler at 669 MB. Similarly, MapmyIndia has divided India into four parts - North, West/Central, East and South - that together take up almost 700 MB.

Live Traffic Update

If you are trying to find out how much time it will take you to reach your destination, try Google Maps. It shows the traffic movement by using colours - green means no traffic delays, orange is for a medium amount of traffic, red means traffic delays and dark red stands for slow speed or jams. This service is available in 20 cities. NaviMaps and Waze also offer live traffic updates.

Alternate Route

All these apps help calculate the shortest possible route. But, what if you are stuck in a jam and want to take a different road? In such a case, the 'alternate route' feature comes in handy. It works best when used with live traffic update as it shows how much time you will take to reach the destination using the alternate route as well. With Google Maps, the alternate route is highlighted. NaviMaps claims to offer three alternate routes (in offline maps).

Save Favourite Place

If there are places you visit once in a while, you can add them to favourites or save the location. The next time you plan to visit them again, you can simply select it from your saved places.

Explore Local Businesses

Maps also have a search feature. If you are looking for something specific, say coffee, just type it in the search bar and all the nearby coffee houses will be highlighted. Points of interest like hospitals, restaurants, pumps, etc., are categorised. NaviMaps even offers local house address for a few cities.

Verdict: The best mapping solution is, undoubtedly, Google Maps that not only offers turn-by-turn voice navigation, but its traffic information is also accurate. And most importantly, it is free. But it works only when you have an Internet connection. The paid apps, too, have some advantages such as offline mode and regional voice guidance, but the user base isn't as big as that of Google Maps.

Share Location

Gone are the days when one used to share one's address. Today, the new way of sharing an address is to pin the location on the map. It is pretty simple. With Google Maps, you can simply touch and hold the location to drop a pin and then share it over WhatsApp, Facebook, email, etc.

Tips

1. No point of paid mapping software when you can get the best ones for free.

2. In remote locations, try accessing data using maps that can be used in offline mode.

3. GPS and navigation drain thebattery quickly, so either use it wisely or carry a battery pack.

4. Turn off location services and GPS when not in use.

5. Always check live traffic before starting your journey for the best/shortest possible route.

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