JOSE, Calif. — When it comes to map apps, consumers
are finding plenty of fresh paths to digital navigation
thanks to Google, Apple and a whole host of rivals.
WeGo, Waze, MapFactor, Mapquest, Scout GPS, Maps.Me and
InRoute are just some of the apps that are challenging
Google Maps and Apple Maps, which dominate smartphone
mapping services, by focusing on new and novel features.
and Apple, though, aren’t content to stay in the slow
lane of innovation. Both have added new features to
their map apps in recent months, including enabling
users to add interim destinations to go along with the
ultimate stop on a trip. Google’s changes rolled out
in an update to Google Maps this summer; Apple’s
changes will be included in iOS 10, the soon-to-be
released next version of its mobile operating system.
open the app, enter a destination, tap the corner menu,
and then click add a stop," Google says in a blog
post. "To rearrange the order of your stops, tap
and hold the three-dot menu to the left of Add Stop and
drag it to the position you want."
Apple Maps service has new features that seek to meld
activities and services associated with a trip.
like OpenTable can integrate bookings right into
Maps," Apple says on its website. "Services
like Uber and Lyft can make it easier for users to book
a ride, without ever leaving the Maps app."
while this navigational arms race shifts into high gear,
it’s become apparent the original stand-alone GPS
devices are becoming stranded by the side of the road.
proliferation of smartphone apps has reshaped a market
once dominated by the stand-alone machines, such as
TomTom, Garmin and Magellan. According to market
research firm Berg Insight, worldwide shipments of
personal navigation devices has decreased from 40
million units in 2008 to a projected 11 million by the
end of this year. That number is expected to drop to
just 7 million in 2019 — less than a tenth of
projected smartphone map app users in that year.
consumers are using their smartphones as their primary
navigation and map system," said Ben Bajarin, an
analyst with Creative Strategies, a market researcher.
"Retailers, in a lot of cases, don’t really
promote the stand-alone devices any more."
established map apps from Google and Apple offer a wide
array of features, with the centerpiece being
turn-by-turn navigation. And while the emerging apps
also typically offer turn-based directions, they all
attempt to offer niche features that also can go beyond
the basics of the apps from the tech titans.
Waze, whose service is separate from Google Maps,
emphasizes the social aspects of traveling, and its new
features include improved ways to share your estimated
time of arrival with others. It also provides quick
access to frequent destinations.
can use Waze to find out about lots of things,"
Bajarin said. "It pops up icons to tell you about
traffic, police in your area, gives you suggestions on
alternate routes. It’s the integration of social media
apps also seek to meld the drive with other services.
Scout GPS emphasizes social interaction, including the
ability to message friends and family and share your
location or destination with designated people. Here
WeGo allows you to summon taxicabs or access a
some apps focus on improving the driving experience.
Mapquest, one of the first computer-based navigation
guides, recently began allowing drivers to see speed
limits on the street they’re traveling. Maps.Me has
added navigation elements that take up less space on the
screen, and the speed the vehicle is traveling has been
added. InRoute, designed mainly for long road trips,
offers the ability to add numerous stops — and drivers
can easily select routes that avoid areas with hot
temperatures or hilly terrain.
it makes "cities easier to use," Citymapper is
geared to the daily commuter. In addition to vehicle
navigation, the app has found a way to coordinate public
transit and ride-hailing services so people can plan
service can be especially handy in big cities with major
transit networks, said Michael Tchong, founder of Las
Vegas-based Ubercool Innovation, which tracks technology
wave of the future is Citymapper," Tchong said.
"It integrates vehicle navigation, buses, subways,
trains, Uber, Lyft all in one package. It will tell you
whether the train you are on is running on time."
predict the pace of innovation will pick up even more
for map apps.
map apps could become automated and start working as
soon as you turn on your phone," said Rob Enderle,
an Oregon-based analyst who tracks the tech sector.
"That way, if you’re driving, you don’t have to
juggle a bunch of apps."
map apps also may become more closely attuned to their
users. They might start taking note of what types of
restaurants you visit and only suggest those when you’re
looking for a place to eat, Bajarin said.
unique personalization of mapping is the next
step," he said. "We are on that cusp."
two big map apps for the major phone platforms are the
widely used Google Maps for Android and iPhone and Apple
Maps for the iPhone.
new: The ability to add interim stops to a destination,
as well as estimates for how much time the detour will
add to the trip.
new: Apple upgrades, include an interim stops feature;
users who want a reminder of where they parked their car
can use a pin drop as a target.
are some free map apps that attempt to challenge, or at
least seek to address some shortcomings of, the two
primary programs from Google and Apple.
new: A cleaner and fresh look, with quick access to
frequent destinations; a new way to share your ETA with
new: Users can get speed limits to appear on their
screens, including if you’re in a school zone. The
route ahead is shown in what is called "2.5D"
which Mapquest calls the "Perspective View."
Distance to a location now automatically updates.
new: Now easier to pick a destination and scroll to the
mode of transportation. The app also offers ride-booking
company Car2Go, as well as info on taxi services.
new: Better alternative route calculation; improved
Google searches; the icon highlights when searching for
a point of interest.
new: Although turn-by-turn navigation is available, the
app focuses on social interactions. Among the new
features: You can send messages to friends and family;
drive to the location of friends and family; share your
location, route and real-time ETA; and ask a friend to
pick you up.
New. The navigation elements take up less space; speed
is now displayed; and an autozoom element has been
added; bicycle riders can see terrain data; search
results show hotel ratings and prices.
New: Custom routes that let people avoid the heat on a
summer road trip, or for those towing a trailer, ways to
avoid steep hills; users can also chose routes with a
lot of curves.
New: Travelers can get alerts about disruptions on
transit systems in a city.