How to get satnav for free!
If you've got a smartphone, there are lots of ways to get satnav absolutely free! And while you're at it, never pay for an Ordnance Survey map again.
In the last few years, big companies have been battling it out to grab the biggest share of the online mapping and directions market.
The battle has brought two great, free innovations:
- Free smartphone satnav applications that outclass many dedicated satnav terminals.
- Free Ordnance Survey maps. If you’re a walker – not a driver – skip to the bottom to learn how to get free walking maps online.
You can get driving directions with full turn-by-turn, spoken instructions on your Android smartphone via Google Maps Navigation. It comes built-in to the Google Maps app.
Navigation is just like satnav, but in many ways better – with voice search, the ability to look for local businesses just like Google Maps, and a superb user interface. And because it connects live to the internet, you always have the latest maps and data.
Before you try using it, two extras are essential: a decent data contract (or you’ll need a second mortgage), and an in-car charger, as Navigation hoovers up battery. A car dock isn’t a bad idea either.
If you want an app with an option to download directions and use them without a data connection, there's NavFree. This app uses OpenStreetMap, which is a free, open, collaboratively edited map of the world – the Wikipedia of maps if you like. That collaborative approach can cause some problems. For instance there are reviews that say it sends you down one-way or dead-end roads. If you want maps outside of the UK and Ireland, you'll need to pay to upgrade.
GlobalNavigator uses Google Maps, while NavFree and MapQuest both use the open source OpenStreetMap.
For just £1.49, you can buy Skobbler's GPS Navigation 2, which rates more highly than many of its free competitors.
If you have a new Nokia smartphone, you'll find Nokia Drive pre-loaded onto it. This is another completely free navigation service and what's really useful about this app is you can download your route in advance, so you don't need a data connection.
Telmap Navigator has only been made free relatively recently and is getting good reviews. Just be aware that you will need a data connection to download maps and the effect this may have on your usage allowance.
Ordnance Survey maps free
Note, if you print them, make sure you use a decent colour printer so you know if you're on the right track...
Are there any great free apps we've missed? Let us know in the Comments box below.
This is a classic article that has been updated