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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Putting navigation apps to the test

Screenshot from the Google Maps app.

Navigation Apps are designed to get you where you need to go, quickly and accurately. There are many options available for your smartphone, and Newschannel 3 put three of the most popular to the test: Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps.

The information below has been put together after trying and testing all three apps. To find the perfect app for individual use, you might want to try them all. These comparisons will help you get a head start.


RATING AND AVAILABILITY

  • Google Maps is the #1 rated Navigation App. It’s available on Apple or Android devices.
  • Waze is the #2 rated navigation app. It’s available on Apple or Android devices.
  • Apple Maps is widely used because it comes installed on i Phones and some other Apple devices. It is not available for Android users at this time.


CAPABILITIES:

  • Google Maps is powered by Google’s search engine. The app functions just as much as a searchable map as it does a navigation tool. Before and during travel, the map shows other businesses such as restaurants on the screen. It also gives options for mapping routes for walking, biking, train and taxi.


  • Waze functions less like a map and more as a directional tool. Chris Sligh, an Uber and Lyft driver in Kalamazoo, said, "Waze points you where you to go and then you go." While it doesn't offer as many mapping options, it can give you a heads up to many other things such as road construction or a police officer.


  • Apple Maps works much like Google Maps. In our testing, this program doesn't give you as many "extras" if you're not looking for them. It also had some trouble with exact directions. When we tested all three apps together, this program took us to the wrong location. It was close, but slightly off. The program does keep less on the screen which could allow users to focus more directly on where they're going and less on the app.


REROUTING IN TRAFFIC:

  • Google Maps: In 2013 Google purchased Waze and since has used this program to benefit it's own mapping services. Google Maps gets updates on traffic through Waze as well as its own users. The program will offer you rerouting options if you're approaching an accident or traffic jam. It will also offer other routes of similar or close to similar times as you travel even if there are no issues ahead.
  • Waze, by many users, is considered the leading app for getting around traffic. When you open the app it says, "Waze: Outsmarting Traffic, Together." The app allows users to add content to the app, identifying obstacles or hazards. Reviews say the app is the quickest at giving rerouting options and telling users when an obstacle is about to slow you down. Again, Waze is about pointing you in the fastest direction and sending you there.
  • Apple Maps was released in 2012 and since has received many upgrades. The program is now powered by Siri, and calculates the quickest route to your destination. Some critics say the app doesn't give rerouting options quickly enough. In my experience with the app, it has taken me to wrong locations and told me to take exit ramps that had been closed for months due to construction.


OTHER FEATURES:

  • Google Maps: At some point you might have seen a funky looking Google car driving through your neighborhood with a 360-degree camera. Google's Street View is working to map the world. Because of the amount of time Google has put into this task, there is a lot of extra content in the maps app. Now, you can see photos on the ground from the majority of addresses in the U.S. This data also helps with Google Maps.


  • Waze takes a navigation tool and turns it, almost, into a social experience. By using the app, you can earn certain additions. You can alter the voice that speaks out driving commands to meet your tastes. This includes the voices of some famous people such as Morgan Freeman. Also, you can give your car a character such as a ninja or cat, which other users will see on the map while you're using the app.
  • Apple Maps offers some "Indoor Maps" for major airports and shopping centers around the world to help you get where you need to go. It also allows you to use other apps within the program so you don't have to open them for certain tasks, such as booking a table at your favorite restaurant. They also have "Flyover," which offers interactive 3D views of certain cities and landmarks. Flyover isn't available everywhere, but when applicable, it's a cool addition.


Follow Jason Puhr on Twitter and on Facebook.


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