The best free Google Maps alternatives for 2022
Google Maps alternatives are navigation apps offering directions, street maps, real-time traffic conditions, and more. Of course, Google’s leading mapping platform has over 154 million monthly users. However, despite being incredibly convenient, Google Maps is one of the spookiest applications on your phone. After all, it knows your favorite hangouts and can determine your work and home address. Another eerie feature is that Google generates a timeline of each location you visit throughout the day.
Thus, discover Google Maps alternatives with means to offer comparable services without gathering extensive data about your whereabouts.
Why try Google Maps alternatives?
Google Maps alternatives are worth your time if you feel uncomfortable with Google’s tactics towards your data. For instance, targeted ads will frequently reflect your recent visits to shops or other establishments.
At some point, Google Maps would aggressively issue review requests once you spend enough time in a particular locale.
Thus, in addition to knowing your every move, Google exploits that information to polish their ads further. While some might prefer the personalized touch, others deem such tailor-made content intrusive.
Google Maps is not the best for your privacy
Overall, here are some of the main reasons for starting 2022 with Google Maps alternatives:
- Google remembers each location you look for via Google Maps. The company knows all your requests, be it directions to your nail salon or the nearest doctor’s office. Google saves each query for a predetermined time and incorporates it into its search engine algorithm.
- Users find it tricky to reject personalized features. Google can seem sneaky when understating settings unfavorable to its business model. For instance, Google offers the chance to opt-out of receiving personalized content. However, by default, Google enables opposite settings and draws less attention to privacy-focused selections. Thus, the use of dark patterns highlights choices favorable to Google.
- Fewer features for unsigned users. Google Maps preserves particular options for users logged in with their Google account. One example is frequently visited places, which you can set only when logged in. Google will also show you notifications like “Explore your Timeline” to tempt users into signing in.
- Google Maps timeline is creepy. Google lets you see your travel routes and means of transport for any day of the week. While looking into your surprisingly accurate movements might seem informative, you are not the only one. Google, and anyone with access to your account, can see the locations you visit. Even if you decide to continue using Google Maps, prevent Google from generating this timeline via settings.
There are many reasons why location data sharing can be problematic, invasive, and even dangerous. Real-time data is incredibly precious, and users admit to feeling anxious about being tracked.
So, can Google Maps alternatives match the quality services you typically receive? It depends on your preferences, but getting directions and recommendations for nearby locations is fairly straightforward.
Which Google Maps alternatives are worth your time
Waze (Android, iOS)
- Free to use.
- Focused on community and the social aspect of driving.
- Real-time updates from users.
- Provides information on traffic jams, road closures, and other hazards.
- Waze is a subsidiary of Google. Thus, you are still stuck with the same provider.
- Maps might include inaccuracies or outdated information.
- Little benefits in remote locations with fewer drivers to report on current conditions.
Waze is one of the Google Maps alternatives, and it also attempts to build a sense of community. The social aspect derives from the fact that you can mark your location on the road and add custom car icons. So, you can see other drivers on the map. It is also possible to notify other users about heavy traffic, car crashes, and road closures.
Therefore, Waze focuses on crowdsourcing, which allows each user to make the map as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
Recently, researchers had discovered a vulnerability in Waze, potentially allowing hackers to identify and track users. The flaw has been patched, but such bugs are incredibly dangerous since they could expose people’s real-time location.
Overall, Waze is for users comfortable with its relation to Google and looking for a unique driving experience. However, if you are only after directions and have no interest in looking at other drivers’ input, you should skip it.
- Free to use.
- Run by a non-profit organization.
- Only limited data about users collected.
- No advertisements.
- Functionality might seem limited after Google Maps.
- Only a web-based version. However, the site works on smartphones as well.
The gist is that if you can get comfortable using a web-based navigation system, go for it. It is one of the privacy-friendly options out there. However, Google Maps have spoiled us, and tools like OpenStreetMap could seem relatively narrow. Nevertheless, OpenStreetMap can surprise you with accurate bicycle or walking routes and route planning.
OsmAnd (Android, iOS)
- Free to use but has a premium version.
- Offline navigation available.
- Skiing and hiking maps included.
- Convenient travel guides.
- The free version offers seven free map downloads.
- Collects specific non-personalized details.
OsmAnd is one of the Google Maps alternatives that might not take too much persuasion. It is one of the applications relying on data from OpenStreetMap. One of the most significant advantages is that it works offline, meaning it does not have to consume cellular data. However, you will need to download map data for specific locations.
Overall, OsmAnd is beneficial for reducing mobile data usage and switching to a less controversial provider. Note that similar to OpenStreetMap, it won’t be convenient for real-time driving updates.
HERE WeGo (web-based, Android, iOS, Huawei)
- Free to use but pay-as-you-grow.
- Alternative route suggestions, speed assistance, and lane assistance.
- Offline maps.
- Public transportation schedules.
- Uses random identifiers tied to users’ personal data that do not identify them.
- Shares non-personal data with its partners.
- May show ads based on your location and behavior.
HERE WeGo is one of the most traditional Google Maps alternatives. It has many features, making it an incredible one-stop-shop for navigation. Thus, it is probably the closest when it comes to matching Google Maps.
Some data collection does happen, but it is likely to be less extensive. Due to its polished look and feel, HERE WeGo will likely be able to win your sympathy. The app also plans to integrate more features beyond navigation from point A to B. These additions will come with the help of new HERE WeGo partners, including Lyft, Booking.com, and FlixBus.
Maps.me (Android, iOS)
- Free to use.
- Offline navigation.
- Navigation for driving, walking, and cycling.
- Bookmarks for favorite locations.
- Collects some general information about you.
- Shares data with its business partners.
- Ads on the app display.
Maps.me is one of the navigation and mapping services that try to go beyond that. For instance, it includes addresses for popular businesses and attractions. You can find such spots in each city you choose. It also lets users bookmark and save locations in the cloud.
Overall, it might not be incredibly privacy-focused, but it still won’t outperform Google Maps. It is an option to try and see whether it works for you.
Apple Maps (iOS)
- Free to use.
- One of the most privacy-friendly Google Maps alternatives.
- Real-time transit information, cycling routes, city guides, and indoor maps.
- Only available to iOS users.
- Does not let you save maps for offline navigation.
Apple Maps has evolved into a fiercely competitive product. However, it is one of the Google Maps alternatives that require a specific operating system: iOS. Thus, Android users will not have the pleasure of trying it.
Speaking of features, Apple Maps lets you view cities in 3D, get accurate transit information, and find nearby places. It has all the traditional variables of the mapping service. Nevertheless, if you are after downloading maps and using them offline, you might feel disappointed.
Apple Maps also gets several things right when it comes to privacy. It does not store information about where users go and search for. Even the data reaching an external server does not associate with your Apple ID. Additionally, the personalized information Apple Maps collects is on your device, meaning you have more control over it.
No need to use Google Maps
Google Maps used to be an application that no other tools matched in functionality and convenience. However, times have changed, and Google Maps alternatives have never been better. You can evade the unpleasant data-harvesting Google performs and still get where you need to go.
If you use iOS, you should go for Apple Maps as your new mapping service. Waze has surprisingly advantageous features, but its relation to Google might discourage you. The best route is to try multiple apps before deciding on the winner.
Overall, remember to always pay attention to apps’ privacy policies. Also, look for reviews and feedback from users who have tried them. You can find insightful details about whether Google Maps alternatives will work for you.