Five Alternatives to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps

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I lived near London, England for nearly two years. I now live roughly as near London, Ontario (yes, such a place exists) from my haunts in southeast Michigan. Apple Maps, Cupertino’s new substitute for Google Maps — which no longer exists on the iPhone as of iOS 6 — thinks the former is in fact the latter. Really, see for yourself.

That’s an embarrassing mixup, albeit, I’m assuming, an easily remedied one. When you confuse one of the largest cities in the world with one that’s only a few hundred thousand strong and located 3,600 miles on the other side of the pond, chances are you’re going to hear about it. A few tweaks and presto, fix-o. For all we know, it’s already done and we’re just waiting on the inevitable iOS 6 update, comin’ round the mountain any day now.

(MORE: New Maps App Is a Rare Apple Flub)

But word on the street is that the problems with Apple Maps extend much deeper, that in addition to getting the odd major city wrong, the app is riddled with shortcomings like out-of-date road information (more so than Google Maps), a tendency to evaluate destinations by their names, e.g. Madison Square Garden, an arena, is labeled a “green space” because of the word “garden” in its name and an occasional inability to find locations the app ought to know about at all.

Apple’s new map app is also missing Google’s Street View and public transportation maps, which those of us in tech-dom knew going in, but which won’t soften the blow for what I’m guessing amounts to a majority of buyers, who no doubt ordered or bought an iPhone 5 assuming Apple’s new Maps app would be at least as robust as Google’s.

Making this all a million times worse, of course: You can’t download a Google Maps app the way you can YouTube (another M.I.A. casualty of Apple’s iOS 6 update). According to a Guardian source, Google has a Maps app in the offing, pending Cupertino’s seal of approval, but The Loop’s usually reliable Jim Dalrymple reacted to this rumor with a resounding “nope.”

I can’t personally verify any of these flaws, because my wife’s iPhone 5 just arrived on Friday (my carrier upgrade date isn’t until early October) and I won’t be traveling anywhere of consequence for another week, but if you’re one of the afflicted, here’s a list of map app alternatives and workarounds to tide you over until either Apple rectifies these issues or Google releases (and Apple approves) a downloadable version of its iOS mapping tool.

Keep using Google Maps in iOS 5. Hey, it’s an option if you’re not buying an iPhone 5, and one I’m reading a lot of people vote for on iOS-related message boards or in story comments. Don’t upgrade to iOS 6. Just wait. There’s no rush, and frankly everything else in iOS 6 is incrementally better — the closest thing to a Siri-caliber shift this time was arguably Maps. Apple’s under worldwide pressure to make Maps better, and it will, you can count on that. With sympathy for iPhone 5 buyers, who’ll have to live with a bit of map-wonkiness or find alternatives (see below), those of us with older iPhones have the luxury of adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

Google Maps in a browser. The most obvious workaround, if you’re determined to use Google Maps, is to bring it up in your iPhone’s browser. It’s not as elegant as the standalone Google Maps app, constrained as it is by the browser’s framework, but it’ll get the job done in a pinch. If you want a shortcut so you don’t have to first launch the browser and type in the maps.google.com URL or hunt for its bookmark, you can “Add to Home Screen” from Safari’s menu. (Sadly, Google’s own Chrome for iOS browser doesn’t support adding a shortcut, or at least I can’t see how to.)

Bing. While you can just as easily access Bing Maps in your phone’s browser, Microsoft has a standalone Bing app for iOS (free, of course) that includes a top-menu-level Maps option and the option to find locations using Bing’s search box, get map-based to-from directions and access public transit information.

Waze. Forget workarounds for a moment, Waze is just a cool idea all its own: Free, crowdsourced mapping, so you can get person-on-the-scene traffic updates, information about traffic jams, accidents, road hazards, gas prices, speed traps and more based on the number of people using the app in your area. Of course that means it also has the downsides of crowdsourced data: inaccuracies, accidental or otherwise, and a dearth of information if not enough people are using it. Worried about people driving solo updating Waze by typing on their phones while driving? The app includes a voice command option that’ll let you report traffic and navigate from one point to another.

TomTom. To be honest, I rarely used Google Maps on my iPhone 4, pre-iOS 6. For short hikes where I needed to jot down an address and get the lay of the land, sure, but mostly I depend on TomTom to get from point to point or locate endpoints like hotels, restaurants, gas stations, bookstores, etc. TomTom has it idiosyncrasies — what GPS app doesn’t? — but in my experience, it’s at least as reliable as my dash-mounted Garmin (and you get map updates automatically, without having to drag in your unit, connect it to your computer with a USB cable, then run a proprietary check-and-sync utility). The only downside: It’ll set you back $40 for the base TomTom app, plus $3 per month or $20 for 12 months to access traffic reports.

That’s my list. It’s also a fraction of what’s available on the App Store, so let me know which map apps you prefer (or just don’t like about my picks) below.

MORE: New iOS 6 Maps: The Data Seems to Be Messy

51 comments
Alessandro Canepa
Alessandro Canepa

The funny thing is that the TomTom app does not work on iOS 6! So it does not make a good maps replacement... ;-)

Chris Tietgen
Chris Tietgen

MotionX GPS Drive is better than any of those. It only costs $1 and you can purchase voice turn-by-turn, as needed, for $3/month or luck into a $10/year plan.

Jon Brooks
Jon Brooks

Glad I'm not so easily lost . . . .  This actually explains a lot . . . .  :-|

mgm1455
mgm1455

Apple should probably give iOS 6 Users a free TomTom map app for a limited time until the Apple Maps are fixed.

D.Smithee
D.Smithee

lol--Tom Tom...I just think that's funny. I mean, isn't the iPhone supposed to be the end all of devices for making our lives easier? Nice, Apple. 

Andrewlh
Andrewlh

my sister has a tomtom.  after maybe 3 years, it still thinks the bridge she commutes into DC over every day doesn't exist, and tells her she's in the middle of the river

AniaMonaco
AniaMonaco

The Mapquest app isn't bad either. It's certainly not as pretty as the Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation app on Android, but it is pretty reliable and, best of all, free.

sneakerking
sneakerking

I am so disappointed that I upgradedto iOS6.  I always used the "streetview" option on the googlemap app.  Now that option does not exist for me.  The 3D feature of the apple phone app does not excite me!!

Fit_to_be_tied
Fit_to_be_tied

They'll have the maps fixed for the new iPhone in no time. Just be patient. Life will go on.

Archana Acharya
Archana Acharya

Whatever you do, DO NOT, I repeat , DO NOT get TeleNav. I spent 10 dollars getting the application and it kept taking me to the wrong place 8 out of 10 times. It is not that I live in a village, it is Houston to cry out loud! Reporting the problem did not do any good either. Find anything better? Let me know!

SeanConnery007
SeanConnery007

  In other news Steve Ballmer apologiizes for:

1. Vista2. ME3. XBox 360 RROD4. The Zune5. The Zune HD6. The Kin7. Microsoft car OS8. Throwing all those chairs.

Then I woke up.

joewaylo
joewaylo

Another contender is Navigon. Though you have to download everything at home first due to the massive installation, you get Navigon's maps with some iOS 6 maps artwork embedded.

mike0404
mike0404

When the Nokia Lumia 900 first came out in April, some phones had a problem connecting to GPS.  Nokia had a software patch out in a week and gave every Lumia owner $100 to make up for the error.  The Apple fanboys crucified Nokia for this, claiming that the entire phone was junk.  Fair is fair Apple, where is YOUR $100 credit, and where is your software patch?

OB123
OB123

To the author:  You should not recommend TomTom as a $40 app when TomTom is the basis for the Apple iOS6 maps app (along with Yelp! data and others).  You would be kind to correct this before someone goes blowing $40 on your recommendation to have a second copy of a sub par mapping service on their iPhone!

Hi69
Hi69

Yeah I have an alternative. HTC One X. Out since May and still better than the Iphone.

sg10
sg10

MotionX is the best map/GPS on iPhones. Not sure if it works in other countries but it works beautifully in the US.

BinaryTruth
BinaryTruth

Easiest alternative: stick with the old OS and don't update.

Joseph Benfante Jr.
Joseph Benfante Jr.

instagram keeps crashing right after i take a photo on my iphone 4s after uupgrading to ios6

Hi69
Hi69

that's because instagram sucks, unless you really love 70's looking pics

konadreamer
konadreamer

There's really nothing special about the iPhone 5...basically it's just a stretch version of the 4S.  Major new headaches await i5 users like a new docking connector which obsoletes many accessories or moving the headphone jack to the bottom of the phone...which means all you business types that like to use wired headsets will have to turn the phone upside down in your pocket if you're going to use the included headphones.  Good job, Apple!  I think you've convinced me to get the Samsung Galaxy S 3!

David Nine
David Nine

So you'll get a Galaxy S III which is a stretch version all-around to 4S (i.e. - big for handheld phone), has a different adapter so you'll need new accessories for it, and is concerned about which way a phone sits concealed in your pocket. Thanks for playing the "I'm not a troll!" game.

TheMovingFinger
TheMovingFinger

It is a testament to Apple's marketing and PR skills and near-total domnance of the mindspace in matters smartphone that this map lapse is seen as a mere inconvenience by every tech writer I have read so far. Would the tech commentators be as kind had Nokia, for example, blundered similarly. I have read some very scathing reviews on Lumia920 recently when an objective one would have done. It seems Apple can do no wrong at the moment. There was a time when GM enjoyed a similar dominance of the mindspace........

havasu46
havasu46

How about buying a Nokia Lumia 900, 800 or 710 now or waiting for 30 days and buying a HTC 8X, 8S, Nokia 820, 920 or Samsung ATIV all of which run Noki's Drive, Maps and Transport for WP7 or WP8 on or off line. Let's see that's 8 alternatives.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

To those of you about to go up a freeway off ramp or about to "turn left" off a cliff or into a canal, isn't it good to know that your experience will contribute to Apples ongoing improvements to "Apple Maps".

Of course you could have avoided the whole thing by simply sticking to "Google Maps".

You might want to consider contacting an attorney now, just to be ready.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

To those of you about to drive the wrong way up a freeway on ramp or turn left off of a cliff or into a canal, isn't it nice to know that Apple appreciates your feedback and that your deaths will result in improving the sparkling new "Apple Maps".

Of course you could have avoided all this by sticking with Google Maps.

May I suggest that you contact an attorney now just to be safe.

shak23
shak23

Mapquest is great app just like SDA1111 was saying. It gives you turn by turn directions or even walking.  

Wderry
Wderry

The author implies that the ios 6 maps and audible turn by turn navigation only works on iPhone 5. It works fine on the iPhone 4S as well. Siri is a pre-req. I have used it a couple of times so far on my 4S and it has been fine.

Lara Clinton
Lara Clinton

I wish I knew all this before seeing the IOS6 update on my phone and naively thinking, "Oh boy I have to right now!" A parade decided to ruin my usual route home in my new city and I couldn't get the side roads to appear and help me reroute :|

zaglossus
zaglossus

No big deal. Just hold off buying or downloading IOS6 for awhile until they work out the problem. You can wait, can't you? Seemingly a lot of tech hipsters can't.

doudidude
doudidude

You cite TomTom as an alternative, but Apple actually uses their data in the new app: you can see it in the lower right corner of the map (you have to lift the corner to see the options and just above that you see 'Data from TOMTOM')

SDA1111
SDA1111

Mapquest, available as a free standalone app on iTunes has always been accurate and comes with turn by turn nav. It's better than any of the options listed here in my opinion / experience.

Aria Sel Gia
Aria Sel Gia

Yes, but it does not work offline.  No data, no map.

urr_qasdim
urr_qasdim

 But it covers only the USA. What would the rest of the world do with Mapquest?

pJwdAISY56
pJwdAISY56

Mapquest is the very best by far!!! 

jimmy kraktov
jimmy kraktov

I've used Mapquest many times for turn by turn directions, and you're right. The maps I got from my queries were all flawless. Very easy to use.

Gaurang Shah
Gaurang Shah

Use Map quest it has spoken directions and its free 

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

They should never have replaced Google maps with Apple Maps this early in the debug cycle.

They are using their customers for quality control of a very immature product.

We PC users are used to this, Apple users are not.

Shame on Apple for giving its customers a half baked product.

The IPad Mini is going to be the really big deal this Christmas in any case.

Lets just hope they don't screw it up by, say, making it too expensive.

Ender Wiggum
Ender Wiggum

"...0n the other side of the pond."  Well done, sir.

eliking
eliking

6. Buy an Android phone, where Google maps works great and has turn by turn navigation :D

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 I'd paraphrase: buy an Android device for maps and the rest and an iPhone6 to show off