Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/182965/how-to-get-navigation-directions-even-offline-without-buying-a-gps/
Dedicated GPS devices are going the way of the dodo, and for good reason. That smartphone or tablet you have can be a capable GPS with turn-by-turn navigation. This works even if you don’t have a data connection.
For Android devices with GPS (practically all of them), you can just tell it to find directions while you're at home and connected to WiFi (with GPS enabled, of course). Then when it starts showing you the way, means the path is downloaded (including all the voice nav and other fancy stuff) and you can go out and use Maps without mobile data.
I bought a dedicated GPS long before a smartphone. I will keep using it until it becomes outdated (I don't get map updates) because mobile data is expensive and I'd prefer not to pay for it.
Yes. AND the display on my dedicated GPS is a hundred times easier to see while it takes me, step by step, through unfamiliar cities. Besides, I get free updates. Costs me nothing to run it.
But, you don't have to pay for mobile data with the Offline apps. It is super easy and always available. I use CoPilot. Lots of maps and cheap. I have owned two dedicated gps units, TomTom and Garmin but the 7 inch screen on my android is a heck of a lot easier to see and I can easily check for local sites and add them to my route without confusing the unit or losing the route. Bad thing about setting a route with Google Maps is if you really want to use the costal route and get off the course set in your hotel room Google Maps will sometimes just re-route to the fastest route which is seldom the coastal route. Also, how easy is it to zoom out with a dedicated GPS. Hit the plus sign a hundred times? Two fingers on the screen on my Galaxy and I zoom to exactly where I want to be. Drag the route to a new side trip with Android and you are on your way. Smartphones and Android tablets are much, much better for changing routes on the fly. I gave my TomTom to my 88 year old mother and she loves it but she still uses a push-mower too.
Consider CoPilot or TomTom for smartphones.
I bought CoPilot for my Android phone for like $5. It stores the maps on the device and doesn't require a data connection. Updates are free, and CoPilot can update over WiFi.
I also bought the TomTom app for my iPhone, about a week before I sold it, and while it was a bit more pricey, it was absolutely worth the $40.
Not all smart phones have a gps receiver. I traveled to Canada for the weekend once, and I did not get data while I was there. There was phone service, but I was roaming. The phone actually could display the map, but it took ten to fifteen minutes to find my position, and responded very slowly to everything. The phone in question was a Motorola Droid Maxx (I do not recommend!). Once I got about five or ten miles back into the states, it worked normally again. While in Canada, my TomTom stopped working as well, which is something I still don't understand.
From what I was reading, a lot of devices with GPS capabilities do not have a GPS receiver, but instead, rely on assisted GPS detection. It uses a combination of data, mobile services, and WiFi to determine where you are.
The trouble with these free apps is that they all use open source maps, which, in my experience, are bloody hopeless. Errors and omissions all over the place.
I use Navfree, here in UK. I also have used Navfree in France. I would not buy another dedicated SatNav, as they are too expensive, and you see on the screen is a arrow on a non descript road. With my iPad and Navfree, I get point to point navigation, without a data connection, and I can "see" whats around me in the way of rivers , built up areas, and other feature. Highly recommended
Assisted GPS is a legit GPS. It simply uses cell tower data to get an approximate fix on your location before using GPS timing to narrow it down.
If you've ever used a stand-alone GPS receiver, such as the first or second generation Garmin or Magellan units, those do indeed take a long time to start up: it could take 5-10 minutes to get a good GPS fix.
As to your TomTom, did it have a Canadian map base installed? Also, did you drive there with the TomTom turned on, or did you toss it in a suitcase and pull it out when you got there? These days, most portable GPS units use their last known fix to try to shorten the acquisition time, and if you move many miles from the place the GPS was shut down, it takes a long time to acquire a new fix. (The same thing happened the first time you turned it on, but you probably don't remember, because you were doing the other setup tasks for a first time user.)
In the US, all mapping starts from the TIGERS mapping data, which is actually compiled by the US Census Bureau.
And the TIGERS data is terrible. All of the commercial GPS vendors spend a lot of time finding and fixing errors in the TIGERS data before releasing their map data to the public. My TomTom actually had a way to submit changes to the map data, which I used a couple times, because it thought a path I took every day was a dead end.
I drove there with the TomTom turned on. I think it has the Canadian maps installed, because it had absolutely no problem computing the directions while I was stateside.
As for what you said about the assisted GPS, sure it works in a pinch, but no one is going to deal with it for an extended period of time. Every function was so unbearably slow including browsing the map and computing directions. In fact, I had to ask someone for directions, even with a GPS and a cell phone in my car. That wasn't too hard, because I was on my way to a hockey game (eh?), so I asked someone who was wearing a Canucks jersey.
I think I made it on tv that night, because I was wearing my Tampa Bay Lightning jersey, so if you were watching, that was me!
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