While others have reported their woes with iOS 6 maps — some are downright hilarious — there’s hope. There are plenty of third-party iOS apps that mean you don’t have to use the new Apple(s AAPL) Maps app to get around town. While Google(s GOOG) hasn’t released a standalone Maps app for iOS 6, you can still use its web app for basic navigation. But if you still want turn-by-turn navigations, here are some great alternatives to the Apple Maps you can find in the App Store.
Waze is an extremely popular and free alternate navigation app. It allows real-time traffic updates from other users and can provide you search results directly from not just Yelp, but also Bing(s MSFT), Google, Yellow Pages and Foursquare, as well as your own contacts.
Waze relies on your data connection for some maps and real-time traffic updates, but can pre-load some data via a Wi-Fi connection to protect your mobile data plan. Short, sweet and to the point and for the price of free, it’s your easiest way of moving away from iOS 6 maps. (Waze is listed in listed in the iOS 6 Map app’s copyright notices, but Waze has not publicly described their integration with iOS 6 maps, and its CEO has his own opinions about Apple’s maps.)
This free app gets around the problems of data connections by allowing you to pre-load major parts of the U.S. for $9.99 via the Scout Plus in-app purchase, but as of this writing it’s free. For quick navigation to popular places like a Wi-Fi hotspot, an ATM, or a gas station, the app has easy-to-use buttons. The app also has voice recognition via structured commands (not natural language like Siri). Ask it to “Find Coffee” and it finds a local coffee shop. Very cool.
This app is 99 cents and uses Bing data instead of Google or Apple Maps. For $9.99 a year you can add turn -by-turn directions delivered via voice. Similar to Waze, the data can be partially cached and if you drive within the same area repeatedly that usually isn’t a problem. MotionX adds some additional features such as the ability to check you into places on Facebook(s FB) (and navigate to recent check-ins) as well as walking directions. Similar to Scout, buttons in the app provide for easy navigation to popular destination types.
Navigon was recently purchased by Garmin and is simply an outstanding app. Unlike Apple’s iOS 6, this app uses Navteq maps (instead of Teleatlas/TomTom). What the premium price buys you is the ability to load all the maps on your iPhone or iPad. If you only travel in certain regions you can buy regional version for $29.99. One unique feature I like about this app is that you can pick and choose which states to pre-load to save time and space on your iPhone, and the maps include additional information about your destination, such as local parking and points of interest. For locations that aren’t in the points of interest, direct searches of Google within the app are supported but you must have a data connection to use that feature. No filtering of reviews either, all the Google reviews are there for you to read.
In-app purchases extend the functionality with such features as Live Traffic ($19.99), Public Transportation ($2.99) and Speed Trap/Red light camera info ($4.99)
This GPS program loads all the maps at once but is the truest representation of a traditional GPS and is identical in function to my Nuvi; I had absolutely no learning curve. Similar to Navigon’s app, in-app purchases support Traffic ($19.99) but safety camera alerts are built in.
Bonus Function: Use your old iPhone as a standalone GPS
Got an old iPhone 3G or 3GS lying around collecting dust? That 3GS can’t do much these days and has little resale value now, but if you hate the iOS 6 apps, especially if you upgraded to an iPhone 5, these premium apps work great to turn an old phone into a standalone GPS.
I tested this with my 3GS; all I did was log onto the App Store via Wi-Fi and loaded the Navigon USA and maps for my state. No SIM card was in the phone. Then I brought it in the car and away I went with an inexpensive standalone GPS. Talk about a great use for old tech! Now that your 30-pin connector in your car won’t work with your iPhone 5, this is a great way to get turn-by-turn directions and avoid the annoyances of the iOS 6 maps.