5 Apps for On-the-Go Driving Directions
For: Apple iOS and Android devices.
Best for: The no-nonsense driver.
The gist: Just like regular Google Maps (think: easy-to-read routes and live, color-coded traffic conditions), except now it talks. And it does so in the most pleasant, crystal-clear voice of all the apps tested.
Nice surprise: Want to stop for lunch? Check Zagat restaurant reviews right on the app.
Biggest minus: It’s bare-bones basic; other apps on the market offer more exciting features, like clever accents and tips on speed traps.
MotionX GPS Drive
For: Apple iOS devices.
Cost: $3 a month or $10 a year for the app with voice guidance, plus $1 to download.
Best for: The fun seeker.
The gist: The app offers a bevy of voice choices, so you can be told where to go by an amorous older lady or a starchy British man. Plus, you can tell the app to play specific songs while you drive.
Nice surprise: The app takes note of your parking spot, audibly directing you back to your car when you’re ready to roll.
Biggest minus: The membership fee. You can opt for a free, nontalking version of the app, but it’s harder to use while driving.
For: Apple iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices.
Cost: $50 for the app; add-on features (such as speed cams and traffic updates) are $5 to $40 each.
Best for: The driver who wants to leave nothing to chance.
The gist: The basic app will get you from point A to point B, but the coolest stuff is to be found in the extras: one guides you on foot to nearby public transportation stops; another helps you avoid congested roads.
Nice surprise: The “reality scanner” uses your phone’s camera to provide a helpful look at your surroundings—noting, say, which nearby buildings contain ATMs.
Biggest minus: The costs add up, as does the memory usage on your smartphone if you load it with extras.
Scout by Telenav
For: iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone devices.
Cost: Basic app is free; premier package (which includes info on speed traps) is $5 a month or $25 a year.
Best for: The social butterfly.
The gist: Looking for a nearby theme park or sushi restaurant? Use this app, with easy one-touch buttons, to send real-time ETA updates to friends you plan to meet. Then find the right restaurant or bar for your rendezvous.
Nice surprise: A built-in local-events calendar, complete with a section for kids’ activities.
Biggest minus: Drab-looking maps with a faded palette.
For: Apple iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8 devices.
Best for: The clever commuter.
The gist: This community-based app relies on users to provide info on traffic jams, accidents, and more. You automatically contribute data, such as the average speed on a given road, just by driving.
Nice surprise: Waze learns your preferred routes to repeated destinations and guides you using those routes instead of its own.
Biggest minus: The audio sounds like a voice from a 1980s answering machine.