I'm looking into getting a new Verizon smartphone. I like many things about the iPhone, but I'm concerned that I'll have to give up a feature I really like about my current phone--turn-by-turn navigation. According to this skattertech chart, the iPhone lacks this feature. Is there really not an "app for that"? (And if not, why? The phone has GPS, so what gives?)

5 Answers 5


The thing is that the built-in Maps app uses Google Maps for the maps, and the Google Maps license doesn't allow a third-party to implement voice navigation using it.

So, Apple's Maps isn't allowed to implement voice navigation, but any other GPS software provider can offer the feature along with their own maps.

Here is a nice review of some of the GPS software available for the iPhone: http://www.macworld.com/article/156720/2011/01/gps.html

Also, that situation could change, since Apple purchased a maps company a few years ago.

  • One question on that link...any reason any of those navigators (besides the AT&T one) wouldn't work on the Verizon CDMA iPhone?
    – devuxer
    Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 4:32

There are plenty of apps for that, especially in the US (where I'm not). There are the apps that mankoff suggests (I use TomTom here in NZ), but I think he left out the best value option: MotionX GPS Drive - they actually do a bunch of different applications, and all great value. Check them out.

BTW, what phone are you using at the moment? What app are you most familiar with?

  • Thanks, @Intuition, +1. I have an LG Dare, which is not a true smartphone (it can do mobile browsing and email, but it's very slow and there aren't many apps for it). Really the only app I've downloaded for it is VZNavigator. I'm looking to do a major upgrade here, though. I use Outlook and GMail, and need to be able to sync with those (including calendar). Other must-haves, besides turn-by-turn nav, are a fast browser and good touch-screen QWERTY keyboard (the Dare's has no error correction whatsoever). Games and video calling would be great, too.
    – devuxer
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 23:45
  • Don't use outlook so not 100% sure about that, but it works perfectly with GMail. Of course, you can sync all of the accounts with IMAP anyway so hopefully that shouldn't be much of an issue. There are about a zillion games available for iOS so I'm sure you'll find something to entertain yourself. I'm quite a Doodle Jump fan myself. Good luck!
    – Ciaocibai
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 23:48
  • Thanks...whatever I get is gonna be way better than what I have now.
    – devuxer
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 23:58
  • You can sync with an Exchange server, if that's what you're asking. If you mean Outlook generically, if it's syncing with your system calendar then you should be fine. Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 0:00

There is an app for that. Look in the App Store. I think the going rate for the GPS apps (Navigon, TomTom, etc.) is about $50 USD.

The built-in Google Maps app does have turn-by-turn (it lists the turns you need to take), but it does not have a voice, and it does not recognize when you have deviated from the suggested route and then re-program itself.

  • Thanks, @mankoff, +1. So, it sounds like there are options. Do you know if TomTom, Navigon, etc. have monthly subscription fees? Verizon's "VZ-Navigator", which has audible turn-by-turn, voice recognition, traffic info, etc. costs $10/month, which is reasonable with a $15 data plan--but not so reasonable when you have to upgrade to a $30 smartphone data plan.
    – devuxer
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 23:12
  • 1
    AT&T's offering has monthly fees, but none of the others do, as far as I know. Navigon, which I use, definitely does not. Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 0:01
  • @DanM - I love Navigon; it's completely replaced having a dedicated GPS unit in our cars. No monthly fees—not even for live traffic updates.
    – Dori
    Commented Jan 17, 2011 at 6:47

The $50+ GPS apps usually include the maps in the download while the free/cheap ones download pieces of the map as required. This is an issue if you are going to drive in areas with poor data coverage. It's not a happy moment when your GSP doesn't have the necessary map section nd there's no reception to get it. On the other hand, apps like TomTom (which I use) are huge (1.2GB) since they include the map so it takes up a pretty big chunk of space on your phone.

Waze is a pretty fun app but is intended to help with local driving more than trip-based navigation. Map accuracy is crowd-sourced so the quality is wildly variable and the routing software isn't designed for long-trips. But it's a lot of fun to use.

Live traffic usually requires a fee but it varies from product to product.

All the apps suck your battery dry at an alarming rate. Power in the car is an absolute necessity.


Yes its true no turn by turn navigation from Apple on the iPhone, etc. However, there are many good free solutions out there and paid as well. One free solution that work currently best for local area navigation is the free Waze gps app. Works good for local under 1 hour trips and provides free traffic re routing too. Has an interesting community aka social networking aspect to it as well. Just note that with this app you are best off copying address from the maps app to Waze to best begin navigation.

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