Five free navigation apps for any mobile phone

Nokia may have made a splash with free navigation application for a small handful of Symbian phones but this stuff's been around for ages. If you don't happen to own an N97 Mini, then here are five other free navigation apps for your mobile phone, at least one of which we can guarantee will be compatible.

AndNav2

Platforms
Android

Map Data
OpenStreetMap

Areas Covered
United Kingdom, Germany,  Ireland, France, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Italy & Austria


Since turning from Google's data to the OSM, AndNav2 has been able to offer turn-by-turn navigation to all Android phones. In return it will send back mapping data and improvement details to the OSM. For the user, it means a free service with traffic information, text to speech and hazard avoidance. There's no US coverage but then they do have a rather good alternative.

Google Maps For Navigation

Platforms
Android 2.0 and above

Map Data
Google

Areas Covered
US only


It was a bad day for satnav manufacturers everywhere when Google Maps for Navigation was announced. Live traffic integration, photographic satellite views, superior search, endless POI database and full voice control are just a few of the reasons why. On the plus side, streaming mapping information is not for everyone, especially if you live in rural areas. If and when this service makes it out of the States, it'll probably become the standard by which all the others are judged - unless, of course,Nokia has already got a foothold.

Nav4all

Platforms
All

Map Data
Google

Areas Covered
North America, Brazil, Mexico, Europe, South Africa, Australia & China


Nav4all has about as basic an interface as you can get. In fact, sometimes its navigational advice will just consist of a large arrow. On the one hand this is to make the directions clear but, on the other, it's so the service will work on just about any phone you could possibly imagine - even ones without a GPS receiver (you will need to buy a separate receiver if not though).

Once you've inputted the address of where you want to go, your phone dials the central computer which then downloads the route guidance and hangs up again. The guidance comes in over 55 languages with a choice of 100 voices and the whole thing only needs GPRS to work. There are threats on the site to start making a nominal charge for each use but it doesn't look like this has been implemented as yet. Great choice for the non-smart of phone.

MobileTraveler

Platforms
WinMo

Map Data
Google, Microsoft & OpenStreeMaps

Areas Covered
All


The twist with MobileTraveler is that it's aimed at users who are travelling abroad. If you're thinking on your feet, you can pre-download the maps to your computer and your device or your can take your roaming chances with foreign 3G networks if money is of little object. The database is then good enough to provide you with route guidance to wherever you wish to go and even includes on foot and train journeys in places like Japan that are incredibly well covered. It might not be the prettiest on the block but it has POIs and all the usual garb you'd expect from a paid for service. It's almost enough to actually make you put up with the Windows Mobile OS.

Waze

Platforms
Android, iPhone - some Symbian & WinMo

Map Data
User-generated

Areas Covered
All


Waze may not currently be the most comprehensive navigation service on mobile phones but it certainly has the cutest interface. Looking like a cross between what Pac -Man and Mario might use in their cars, the beauty here is that it's all user-generated. On the one hand it means that it can be highly personalised by adding attachments of photos or giving live warnings of traffic that lies ahead but, on the other, it means the maps are rather thin in all areas outside the US.

Should it really take off, of course, then Waze has the potential to be more up to date and accurate than most other services. The GPS signals of the users' phones are recorded live so that real time traffic information can be gleaned and used to help make your decisions over which way to go. Where the maps are incomplete, the signals also allow you to start mapping uncharted territory or even correct mistakes. It's possibly not the best choice for your prime nav app, but it's certainly worth installing on both iPhone and Android.