The 5 Best GPS Apps for iPhone of 2023

These apps offer turn-by-turn directions and some even offer directions for walkers

GPS navigation apps provide mapping, search, turn-by-turn navigation, and off-road navigation features. Navigation apps for iOS fall into two categories: those that download maps and those that access maps on the fly.

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Google Maps

Google Maps screens on iOS
What We Like
  • Convenient voice search. No typing required.

  • Highly accurate directions to destinations.

  • Street views for 99% of U.S. public roads.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires an internet connection for most features.

  • Doesn't run in the background. Drains the battery faster than similar apps.

  • Downloadable maps are hundreds of megabytes in size.

Google's years of making Google Maps a priority resulted in an extremely accurate map and points-of-interest database.

Traffic is powered by Waze, which Google owns. It calculates a way around traffic problems, if possible. Google Maps displays icons for construction, incidents (such as car crashes and potholes), and police presence. Color-coding indicates the amount of traffic.

The Google Maps feature list includes address and points-of-interest search using the Google Local Search utility. It offers ratings and local reviews. It also syncs searches and favorites (with a Google login). Choose from several map views: traffic, public transit, biking, satellite, terrain, or Google Earth.

Many languages are available, and you can adjust the voice guidance volume separately: softer, normal, or louder. You can also play voice prompts over Bluetooth if you want to use your car speakers.

Google Maps is free and available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 10 or later.

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Apple Maps

Apple Maps app on iPhone
What We Like
  • 3D Look Around feature.

  • Effective lane guidance and speed limit display.

  • Navigation screen is free of distractions.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't offer map downloads for offline use.

  • Doesn't warn drivers of speed traps or roadway obstructions.

After a rocky launch in 2012 as part of iOS 6, Apple continued to refine its Maps app until it became a worthy competitor of Google Maps on iOS devices. It ships as part of the operating system on iOS, so it's free and instantly available to users.

The app's attractive design provides an intuitive user interface that guides drivers, walkers, and cyclists with turn-by-turn spoken directions. It provides an arrival time by factoring in real-time traffic information and the current speed limit.

Commuters can access real-time transit information in many cities with live arrival and departure times of the user's bus or train. On flights, get indoor maps of airport terminals, including the locations of restaurants and restrooms.

The app's Flyover Mode and 3D city views give a Google Earth-like experience: a 3D city image to explore virtually before a trip. Add favorites, favorite locations, and enjoy proactive suggestions.

Enhancements made in the iOS 14.5 upgrade include a way to share your ETA when walking or riding a bike and, via CarPlay, to share your ETA using Siri.

In addition, safely report a traffic incident hands-free using Siri or CarPlay (in the U.S. and China). Say something like, "Siri, there's a crash up ahead," to report the incident without using your phone.

You can also manually report an incident or a cleared incident using the Apple Maps Report an Incident screen.

Apple Maps is free and available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 6 or later or iPadOS 13 or later.

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TomTom Go screens on iOS
What We Like
  • A la carte downloadable maps with weekly updates.

  • Excellent lane guidance.

  • Speed camera alerts.

  • Apple CarPlay compatibility.

What We Don't Like
  • Free app includes 50 miles of navigation per month.

  • After free trial, a subscription is needed for most users.

  • The iPhone route bar isn't available on CarPlay.

The TomTom GO Navigation app is a sleek combination of the latest TomTom car navigation technology and world-class traffic information. The app displays the best route available based on accurate, real-time traffic information that gets you to your destination quickly. With the TomTom Traffic feature, you always know where delays are and whether a faster route is available.

Lane guidance is a standout feature of TomTom GO Navigation. Never miss a turn again because you're in the wrong lane. Relax while the app's speed camera monitors posted speeds and alerts you to fixed and mobile speed cameras (requires an internet connection).

Choose from a selection of offline maps for your region for those times when you don't have internet access or data roaming to plan a route. The app is preloaded with useful points of interest.

Find destinations faster with Quick Search, which finds locations as you start typing. You can also select locations you find on websites or other apps by copying the URL and pasting it into Quick Search. Or, tap your favorite destination on the map, and you're on your way.

TomTomGO Navigation is available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 11 or later. It's a free app download with 50 free miles per month or a free trial period followed by a 1-month ($1.99), 3-month ($4.99), or 6-month ($8.99) subscription.

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Three iOS Waze screens
What We Like
  • Live, community-based traffic information.

  • Apple CarPlay compatibility.

  • Dynamic route adjustments to avoid traffic hazards.

What We Don't Like
  • Ads on the screen.

  • Only useful for drivers.

  • Not much location information.

Waze is the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road information, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

The app's social layer lets users contribute traffic jam, road hazard, speed trap, and similar information to the overall database. If you opt-in, Waze detects when you are traveling below the speed limit, contributing to real-time traffic data for all users.

The app uses on-the-fly maps, so an internet connection is needed to navigate and communicate with other Waze users to share reported road hazards. Add a photo to road reports or integrate with FourSquare, Twitter, or Facebook.

Waze is free with advertisements and available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with iOS 10 or later.

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Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS app on iPhone
What We Like
  • Searchable trail database.

  • Download topographic and satellite maps for offline use.

  • Measures distance, altitude, and elevation changes.

  • Up-to-date weather forecasts.

What We Don't Like
  • Free level limited to the default map service.

  • Subscriptions are costly.

  • Best features and maps require subscriptions.

Although Gaia GPS started life as a backpacking app, it expanded to all types of outdoor recreational activities. Whether you're into hiking, hunting, skiing, camping, or mountain biking, Gaia can be customized to your interests.

Wherever you are, use the app's Discover tab to find hikes and nearby trails. Bikers can mount Gaia GPS to the handlebars for hands-free navigation, and hunters can distinguish between public and private land with state-by-state hunting information. Skiers find powder and avoid avalanche terrain with Gaia GPS.

This app is so robust, it is used by firefighters, land managers, and search and rescue teams.

Gaia GPS is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 10 or later. It includes a free level, a Member level for $19.99, and a Premium level for $39.95.

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