Just because Google Maps comes pre-loaded on your phone and tablet doesn't mean that it's the only choice for you to use when it comes to mapping. Google has put a lot of time and money into making Maps one of the best navigation apps out there, and has incredibly detailed mapping data and extra features like Street View and satellite imagery. It doesn't, however, have some often-requested features like true offline map downloads and multi-stop navigation. There are several other apps out there that do have these features, though, and many of them are even free. Let's see the alternatives for Google Maps on Android.
Nokia's HERE Maps is probably the leading choice when it comes to a Google Maps replacement on Android. With highly-detailed maps that rival or exceed Google's depending on where you are, as well as a large database of points of interest and now internal mapping of popular buildings, HERE really stands out. Going a step further, HERE lets you download complete maps for entire countries if you wish, meaning you can rely on the maps even when you're in places without a data plan. Since exciting beta HERE Maps has added even more new features, and is worth looking at if you're not satisfied with Google Maps.
Download: HERE Maps (Free)
Although Waze is actually now owned by Google and some of its features have been integrated into Google Maps, the original Waze app still lives on in the Play Store. We doubt anyone would say that Waze is a beautiful app, but the information it provides to drivers is top-notch. You'll get information on gas stations (including prices), rest stops, food, construction, slow-downs, accidents and police activity along your route so you can dodge the slow routes and get where you need to go. Many people will be happy with the Waze data that's now available in Google Maps, but if you want to contribute back or see all of the data Waze has to offer you can keep this one installed.
Download: Waze (Free)
Scout GPS Maps, Meetup & Chat
Scout GPS is an interesting app that offers mapping but also social integration with chat and meetup functionalities built right in. You get OpenStreetMap maps with traffic, points of interest and parking information baked-in, but also have the ability to coordinate with friends so that it's easy to find each other. The idea is that you won't have to switch between apps to let people know when you're on your way or close to arrival, and while not everyone uses their mapping apps that way it could appeal to you.
Download: Scout GPS (Free)
MapQuest GPS Navigation & Maps
MapQuest is often thought of as an early mapping platform that has been fully supplanted by Google Maps on the web, but the MapQuest app on Android is still alive and well with millions of downloads. The MapQuest app offers high-definition maps, solid point of interest listings, multi-point step-by-step navigation and ETA sharing. That's just about all you'd need from a mapping app, and MapQuest has it all with pretty respectable performance to boot.
Download: MapQuest (Free)
MAPS.ME – Offline Map & Routing
MAPS.ME is an app built on the crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap database, and offers its own set of features building on the mapping data. You'll get complete offline map support fro 345 countries and islands, according to MAPS.ME, including offline search and directions. Beyond those basic features MAPS.ME also includes bookmarking, orientation tracking when you move and location sharing. It's also free, which is always great to see.
Download: MAPS.ME (Free)
GPS Navigation & Maps Sygic
Sygic Maps is powered by TomTom, and while the map data itself isn't fantastic the app does offer all of the features you're likely looking for. There's complete offline mapping and turn-by-turn navigation support, as well as points of interest from TripAdvisor, parking spot suggestions, lane guidance, voice guidance and speed limit warnings when driving. Sygic Maps is free to use, but does offer in-app purchases for some premium features like traffic data and access to speed camera locations.
Download: Sygic Maps (Free, In-app purchases)
OsmAnd Maps & Navigation
OsmAnd Maps is another free app that takes OpenStreetMap data and adds in its own interface and features. You'll get point of interest information from Wikipedia, as well as turn-by-turn directions for driving, biking and walking. There's both a day and night view of the app, as well as multiple options for changing the look of the maps. Naturally there's full offline support as well, including the choice of downloading complete maps or just road maps to save on storage space.
CoPilot is one of the more popular paid mapping apps out there, offering full offline support and all of the features of a basic standalone GPS unit you'd normally install in your car. The mapping data is pretty good, but we have to say that performance in the app overall is quite bad compared to what you get from the other choices listed in this article. At $10 for the U.S. and $45 for Europe you'll really need to like what CoPilot does, but it is another option to compare the free choices to.
Download: CoPilot GPS (Free, in-app upgrades)
What's your favorite mapping app?
We've listed eight great options here if you want to take your mapping seriously and haven't found Google Maps to be right for you. But we know there are even more out there that some folks have found to be worthwhile — let us know in the comments what your favorites are, whether they're listed here or not!