- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets
Best GPS Apps for Android
Android is quickly becoming an incredibly large market for application developers. Currently, there are thousands of apps in the Market, but there are many more submitted each and every day. Android is a great platform to own because of the amount of innovation that is going into developing applications for it. There are just as many "categories" of applications on Android as there are on the iPhone, and you can surely find an application for any need. So here are the best applications that I have found in the category of GPS.
GPS Applications and Their Uses
There are several variations of a "GPS app" for Android. There are the apps that function as a GPS providing speed, direction, and other details to the user. Then, there is a second class of apps that use the phone's built in GPS to perform location-based actions such as updating Twitter with a status update of your location. I'll be focusing on the first-class (GPS apps that do actual GPS type functions). GPS apps are useful because they replace the stand-alone units you can purchase at the store. One application, which I will discuss first, actually offers excellent turn-by-turn directions, negating the need for an actual GPS unit, and therefore saving money.
Android's Built-In Navigation GPS App
The best application for GPS uses on Android is perhaps one that is pre-installed on the phone: Google Navigation. I discuss Navigation in detail here but essentially it functions in the exact same way as a stand-alone GPS unit. It offers trip planning, time-until-destination reports, turn-by-turn directions, spoken street names, etc. It is quite incredible for being built into a phone, and I have used it for many trips without ever getting lost. Because it is backed by Google's Maps, there is an extensive database of points of interest and the entire app integrates well with the operating system (for example, if you do a Google search in the browser for a store, the results will include a button to open the Navigation app and get directions.).
GPS Test is an application that reminds me of hand-held GPS units for hikers from the late 1990s. It basically displays your data such as position, elevation, location, etc. as well as satellite information. It's an interesting, free download that can offer some interesting information if you're taking a trip or a hike.
Anywhere GPS Text
The name of this app is a bit odd, but nonetheless if you need a simple, no-frills application that can tell you speed, etc., this is a great app. Also, another important fact is that it doesn't need a highspeed or even normal connection to work. All it needs is a GPS signal, which is usually available even when the other networks are not. This makes it great for sailors, hikers, bikers, etc.
This application has a lot more details built into it than the previous ones. It has a very detailed compass, which is surprisingly accurate, as well as the other information we've come to expect such as location, speed, etc. If you want a very detailed view of your position on the earth, this is the app to download.
Crow's Flight GPS Compass
Here's a GPS app for all the pilots. This app allows you to tell the phone where you want to go in terms of a point of interest or address (its backend is Google Maps, so if you can find it on there, you can navigate to it). It then show's the exact direction that that place is, as the crow flies. So you can see direct distances instead of just distances via a road.
GPS Compass Map
This application is interesting because it shows your Google Map location, but it rotates it as you view it according to your bearing. It even has an offline mode so that the GPS can continue to function when you loose your data connection.
This application fits more into the category of using the GPS to do something else, but I decided to include it since it can be helpful. This app tracks your location (location of your phone) and if you get separated from it, you can look up its location for free online. This is a great way to find lost phones or keep track of your kids.
There are many different applications available that use your phone's built-in GPS to show you interesting and useful information. Obviously not everyone will have a need for these apps, but if you are a hiker or an outdoor adventurer type person, you can benefit from using your phone to see how high that mountain you climbed actually was.