The 7 Best GPS Apps for iPhone of 2020

These navigation apps work on your iPad, too

GPS navigation apps are among the most popular apps for iOS devices. These 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.

Some GPS apps download a map and points-of-interest database to your device, which saves mobile data and battery life. Other apps download maps as you drive, bike, ski, or hike. These on-the-fly maps take up less memory on the iPhone and are easier to update. However, continuous GPS usage decreases battery life.

GPS navigation apps are either traffic-specific navigation apps or recreational activity apps. Traffic navigation apps include highway maps, turn-by-turn directions, and points of interest for drivers, walkers, transit riders, and bikers. Recreational activity GPS apps specialize in off-road uses, including hiking, biking, and sailing.

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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 available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 10 or later.

Cost: Free

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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 is free and instantly available to users.

The app's attractive design provides an intuitive user interface that guides drivers or walkers with turn-by-turn spoken directions. It provides arrival time by factoring 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, users get indoor maps of airport terminals, including the locations of restaurants and restrooms.

The Flyover Mode of the app and 3D views of cities give users a view that is similar to that of Google Earth—a 3D image of the city that can be explored virtually before a trip. The addition of favorites and collections of favorite locations, along with proactive suggestions, are bonuses.

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

Cost: Free. Included in the operating system.

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TomTom GO Navigation

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 (internet connection required).

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.

Cost: Free app download with 50 free miles per month or a free trial period followed by 1-month ($1.99), 3-month ($4.99), or 6-month ($8.99) subscription.

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Waze

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 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 to 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 available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 10 or later.

Cost: Free with advertisements

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AT&T Navigator

Three AT&T Navigator screens on iOS
What We Like
  • Accepts spoken commands.

  • Cache maps and points of interest for offline use.

  • Gas price search capability.

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than similar apps.

  • Only for AT&T customers.

  • Uses location data when not open, affecting battery life.

The AT&T Navigator traffic app operates on a subscription payment model. The app is free, but a $9.99 per month subscription fee is required to use it. The amount is billed to your AT&T mobile bill. It's available only for AT&T customers, although the Verizon VZ Navigator app is similar.

Like most traffic GPS apps, AT&T Navigator speaks turn-by-turn directions and provides traffic detection and avoidance information. It accepts voice input and provides instant route options. Although it is designed for online use, users can download maps for large parts of the country (the eastern U.S., for example) for offline use.

AT&T Navigator is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 8 or later.

Cost: Free download with a monthly subscription fee of $9.99.

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Verizon VZ Navigator

Three VZ Navigator screens from iOS
What We Like
  • Roadside assistance based on GPS position.

  • Day/night mode.

  • Simulated views of major interchanges and exits.

What We Don't Like
  • Monthly fee does not include data.

  • Constant use of GPS drains the battery.

The Verizon VZ Navigator, available only to those with Verizon as their carrier, is available with a monthly $4.99 subscription fee that is billed to the Verizon account. The VZ Navigator traffic app is known for its extensive 3D imagery that includes 3D maps of major U.S. cities. It also features audible traffic alerts and real-time traffic updates. Its SmartView feature lets you select from multiple views, including list, dashboard, 3D, virtual city, and sky views.

VA Navigator recognizes voice address input and integrates with Facebook. It offers gas price search information and supports messaging to share your location. The app supports Spanish as well as English.

VZ Navigator is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 8 or later.

Cost: Free 30-day trial followed by a $4.99 monthly subscription.

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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 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.

Cost: Free level, Member level is $19.99, and Premium level is $39.95.