So, there’s a bit of a brouhaha over iOS 6 switching its maps provider from Google Maps to TomTom and other Apple sources. Yes, the 3D flybys in the maps are pretty, but the lack of details once had in Google Maps and loss of transit directions is a backbreaker for some. Sure, Google Maps has a mobile website that can be added as a web app, but maybe it’s time for something all new. Unless or until a separate Google Maps application is released, here’s four fine alternatives for mapping and directions.
Transit directions are notably missing from iOS 6 maps. However, for those needing to get around, HopStop provides valuable directions. Supporting many major North American cities, just choose the starting address, destination, departure/arrival time, and preferred method of transit, and the app provides helpful directions, including alternate arrival/departure times for buses and trains. It even includes some transit options that Google Maps doesn’t, such as suburban Pace buses in the Chicago area.
This app uses OpenStreetMap data to power its maps, relying on the free user-supported data supplied to provide reliable up-to-date information, similar to Wikipedia. It uses this data to provide a free turn-by-turn navigation solution. The hook is that data on traffic, accidents, speed traps, and more, is all provided by people also using the app. Simply driving around with the app open can help intelligently detect where rough traffic is based on slower speeds. Waze can even find cheap gas along routes based on user-submitted reports.
This app offers over 7800 maps of cities and places all over the world, which are all downloaded direct to one’s device. So, where data service is spotty or nonexistent, this app still provides valuable street data along with various locations and landmarks available offline. It’s perfect for the iPod touch and wifi-only iPad. The maps are curated by the development team, including their CEO who wears a sweet hat.
Long before there were Google Maps, there was MapQuest. While The Lonely Island declared Google Maps “The best”, who’s got an app on the App Store now? MapQuest does! Find important places and get turn-by-turn directions using their main app, or use their “Local” app to find the best restaurants and bars based on crowdsourced information. MapQuest is a survivor, and will be around to give us directions when all that's left is Twinkies and cockroaches!