Maps, Navigation & Directions (a name stripped out of all creativity) is another free navigation app trying to offer a couple of unique features that should make it differentiate from the competition. The name of the game in the app is huge POI (Points of Interest) base that is accurate and up to date, offering users a selection of POIs divided into eight groups, such as food, sleeping, transport, services, public places, or health.
The best thing about the feature is that, even in small countries, the system works excellent showing plenty of useful places that can even be of use for natives, not just tourists. Want to find the nearest bike store? Not a problem. Thinking of making some home repairs? The app can lead to a hardware store. The system is simple, categories are nicely done, and as the most important thing, data is up to date.
On the other hand, Maps, Navigation & Directions isn’t really up to date when it comes to GUI (graphic user interface) and performance. The user interface looks like it came from 2012, the presentation is humble, to say the least. On the bottom, you can find a couple of icons (like search, navigate, explore, and map type) that show all of the features. No settings menu, no options allowing you to tweak the home screen. Also, the app suffers from noticeably sluggish performance; scrolling the map is slow, zooming takes a while for the data to be pulled. The app just lags and developers have to make it work faster in order to be competitive with other free mobile navigation solutions.
The maps used are pulled from Google and from OpenStreetMap project, and the funniest thing is that you can’t actually choose which one to use. Sometimes, the app will pull map data from one source, at other times from the other, and there’s no way of picking just one. A huge minus. Also, if you want to download offline maps then forget about using this particular app. The lack of offline maps is understandable since the app’s main feature is its huge selection of POI, which can be showed only when online. On the other hand, if you’re traveling, without access to mobile internet, and without Wi-Fi connection, forget about using the app.
Navigation features are quite rudimental. You can’t choose a destination by simply holding your thumb on a map, you must enter search mode, and then manually type a destination. Not all is bad since the app can guide you to a particular POI just by tapping on its icon on the map. After all the app is based on various POIs, but developers could’ve included a feature allowing you to pick any point on the map as a destination, not just POIs.
Navigation doesn’t have voice guidance, no option to calculate route based on different variables (like selecting the fastest route, or a fuel saving one), and there’s just a top-down view when navigation is on. As we said, navigation feature is pretty rudimental as its meant to be used only for POIs. You can choose a classic map layout as well as satellite view, traffic view, public transit (which shows all available public transport lines), as well as bicycling and hiking layouts. There’s also an Explore button present, allowing you to browse public webcams, nearby places, as well as Wikipedia entries. There’s also an option to use Google StreetView, but most users will use StreetView feature while in Google Maps anyway.
Overall, Maps, Navigation & Directions can be helpful if you’re on a trip and want to have a cup of coffee, find out about nearest stores, or just want to refill your car’s gas tank. We have to say that POI selection is the best one we saw ‘till now.
One the other hand, the app is just awful when it comes to navigation features. No quick destination selection, no offline maps, no voice guidance. Simply, if you want a free navigation app, look elsewhere. No matter if you have Android or iOS device, there are plenty of excellent navigation apps supporting all features not to be found on the Maps, Navigation & Directions. It’s simple, the app is made to be used as a handy POI glossary for tourists, or natives living in huge cities, where you can find a new coffee place every day, or don’t know that there’s a laundry just around the corner. If you need a free POI glossary, the app can be handy; if you desire for a free navigation app, just skip this one.