Android GPS app advice ??
Hello Folks.
We presently use the HERE app on our Android phone for help with navigating (by car) to places when we need to go to someplace that we are not familiar with.
The HERE app has become rather annoying in that it has been wildly incorrect at times and, that it says it works totally offline when it really doesn't seem to - and it also requires logging into their site a bit too often for our comfort.

We are considering upgrading to something which may be a better GPS app, but frankly have no idea what may be better for our needs as there are so many to choose from - so it seems best to ask for advice from others who may have more experience in such matters.

As we are only concerned with GPS usage in the car for travel, these are the important things that we prefer to have in using a GPS:

- Offline maps stored & used from the phone's memory;
- Able to function with the GPS sensor only;
- Clearly spoken turn-by-turn instructions;
- The ability to send its audio output via bluetooth;
- Map sources that do not require subscriptions and/or periodic payments.

Hopefully these desires are not too outrageous ??
We're fine with buying a good GPS app, but would prefer to avoid anything that wants to be paid again & again.

I have posted here before about using other stuff and will be tinkering with that as time allows, but in the meantime we do need to have something that will help us not to get lost when we are out & about & outside of our local area.

Thanks for any helpful replies and/or pointers.
Ken in Regina
I've tried a number but ALK's Co-Pilot is my preference for in car navigation. It has everything you listed if you buy the version with lifetime map updates.

Wonderful info - I'll have a look at that one !!

On my Android tablet I mainly use OruxMaps, which is free. But I use it with topo maps and imagery that I make myself, so it won't do what you want.

I use iOS for everything else, and have been very happy with the Garmin StreetPilot Onboard app. It is virtually the same as their Nuvi devices. Unfortunately Garmin does not offer an Android version. Too bad because it would be a good fit for what you want.

Now I also have the Navigon app for iOS, and they have an Android version. I don't use it much, but that is because I like the StreetPilot app better, and there are a few user interface things I don't care for on Navigon. But you might check it out and see what you think. It works offline with no problem.

I had a look at the iGo app recently (I used the iOS version, but there's also an Android version). You get a 24 hour free trial, so you could check that out. I wasn't so crazy about it myself.
Forgive my ill-informed question but why not Google maps?

I am just back from touring in northern Germany on totally unfamiliar roads and there I found Google maps to be quite valuable. This was in addition to the rental car's built in navigation system.

I had (unusually) the foresight to take along a cheap windscreen sucker/phone hugger that allowed me to pair my Android phone through the car's A/V system which produced at times some amusing interplay between robotic ladies. The car, a Mercedes, has an awful user interface but a huge and highly visible screen but it did not allow destination entries as finely-tuned as I would have liked. For instance, you could enter almost the smallest hamlet imaginable and the system would route it. However, I never figured out how to enter something like a museum which might entertain more people than live in the afore-mentioned hamlet. Therefore, I had to use Google maps on my Android. Also, the in-car sat-nav gives you one route, take it or leave it, substantially on a "trust-me" basis whereas Google at least gives you some options. This produced occasional conflicting directions coming out of the same speakers; one in a semi-nasal flat North American accent and the other in much more appealing BBC-tonalities.

Except for the audibles, Google was almost always better than Mercedes. Even the Peugot I rented in Italy a few months ago had a better sat-nav than the Mercedes.

Another advantage I found in using Google maps was that I could build an itinerary (using good old AutoRoute on my laptop) in advance, then manually enter the stops in my Google calendar in the proper sequence and the just click through the calendar entry to activate Google maps as I completed each leg. I tend to over-program and then pare-out lower priority stops on the hoof with an eye to our overall progress. Should I wish to abort an intermediate destination, I would just proceed to the next calendar entry and the route leg is quickly calculated.

But now I am intrigued: Is there something better for me than Google maps?

I still haven't seen anything better for complex route-building than S&T/AR, however. Too bad the data base is getting stale. See sample day route attached.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 8-04-16.pdf (243.9 KB)
Ken in Regina
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
Forgive my ill-informed question but why not Google maps?
The first two items in his list of criteria are:

- Offline maps stored & used from the phone's memory;
- Able to function with the GPS sensor only;

Yes, silly me.
Thanks for the replies folks !!
We live in a very rural area - and when we REALLY need the help of a GPS is when we are trying to locate a destination that is usually at the end of a very twisty, mostly unmarked route (street & road signage in nearby NH is practically non-existent - who needs road signs anyhow ?!?).
When we've gotten lost the worst has usually been in places where there are big hills & thick tree cover around sufficiently as to pretty much disable GPS reception - and there has certainly been zero data access in such places.

Hence my quest here.

ATM a bit of a side-track has been at the forefront of my activities;
We are presently switching to cellular services MINUS the monthly bills and I am also helping a friend to do the same with his.
This means sourcing, rooting, cleaning, configuring & provisioning Android devices for a while...
When this very present need is fully satisfied, I will then be giving the GPS subject my attentions once again.

Originally Posted by vtsnaab
When we've gotten lost the worst has usually been in places where there are big hills & thick tree cover around sufficiently as to pretty much disable GPS reception
A device like the GLO on your dashboard might help with that
Thanks for the background, VTS. Yes, I can appreciate what you are saying about GPS signal capture problems. Cellular coverage may also be a problem in the same areas. Boyd may be on to something.
Cellular in rural Vermont is iffy at best alot of the time - in NH - a joke, mostly - and it has always been in NH that we've gotten lost !!!

$100 Bluetooth GLONASS receiver - wow.

Maybe one day when I somehow find a sack of 20's someplace I can get one.

The best alternative to google maps is still "Here" (recently rebranded to "Here We Go" which I guess is the best they could come up with to salvage the existing bass-ackwards name without changing it altogether).

Here's scheme allows the entire US & Canada (or individual states/provinces) to be downloaded and stored locally, and the app itself can be put into an "offline mode" which limits POI searches, but works fine for mapping & navigating to addresses. In this respect, it is very similar to CoPilot.

Unfortunately Here stopped making the "hi-fi" (TTS street names) voices available some time ago, and the "standard quality" voices are markedly inferior to google nav's excellent voice directions. Last time I updated Here, it still worked OK with the old Hi-Fi voices, but unless you downloaded when they were available (or know somebody who did, like me), then you're SOL. In this blog post, some commenters revealed that the old Hi-Fi voice files still work, and provided links for users to get them, but Here put an end to that, saying they don't "support" those much better Hi-Fi voices. Read some of the latest comments on that post, and you can see how frustrated users are about having Here try to force this retrograde step.

Here really screwed the pooch on this one, even as google nav's voice directions have steadily gotten better. IMO, great voice directions are one of the most important functions, because it allows the driver to keep his eyes on the road.

That's not Here's only screw up. As the comments to this blog post attest, Here has yet to provide any way to use to plan routes that are seamlessly accessible on a mobile device. They screwed this one up even worse than google, which does not come close to what S&T had a decade ago.

Here was bought by a consortium of automakers, who may be moving toward with-holding the best and most useful features from a free Android app, and making them available only in their in-car version.

A couple years ago, I extensively tested most of the other alternatives, including mainstream products like Navigon and TomTom's Android app, along with less well-known contenders, like Sygic and some others I don't even remember off the top of my head. Most in that last group just outright stank. Navigon and TomTom were OK, but certainly a big step down from google maps for local search, and not as good as google's current voice guidance either. Both Navigon and TomTom had some pretty big limitations in their interfaces too, I guess due in part to their standalone PND heritage. A lot of little things you'd take for granted as being a breeze in google maps were quite a chore in either one of those.

FWIW, the current version of the Android google maps/nav app does allow large maps to be stored locally, although they try to update automatically via WiFi every 30 days. I'm not sure if the existing local maps keep working if the update is not successful.
Hello Again at long last.
We have HERE on both a phone & a Nexus tab & it used to have good voices as I recall, but we've not used either in a while; the phone is too dinky to be much use & always lost GPS very easily & the Nexus is a repaired one that likes to shut itself off randomly & usually at the worst times.
I'm not fond of using Google-based stuff really, and hopefully someday soon I'll find some way to put our motley collection of stuff together somehow to have decent GPS reception on a bigger than 2.5" display for those times when we're wandering the back roads of NH with little or no clue of how to get theya from heya !?!

Happy Holidays to All !! About