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Choosing the best navigation app for pedestrians, running under Android and iOS

Updated on Mon, 11/02/2020 - 11:17

Below you'll find the best GPS navigation apps for mobile devices. Let's turn our attention to the features of mapping a walking/ hiking route. The list isn't huge, but we'll update it over time. As always, you can download the mentioned navigation apps via the links below the description. 

Contents:

    The main features of navigation apps for pedestrian

    When you look at reviews of a navigation app and the description of its features, you'll see that often their primary focus is on drivers and public transport users. However:

    • many users use navigation apps when walking;
    • not to mention tourists, athletes, mushroom pickers, hunters and fishers;
    • navigation apps will also be useful for cyclists;
    • unlike automobile routes, pedestrian routes often display paths, sidewalks, and other transportation options rather than roads or highways; 
    • navigation apps from Google Play (for Android) and AppStore (for iOS) don't always offer optimised paths and are often limited to highways.

    Google Maps is a navigation app for walking with support for offline maps

    Google Maps is one of the best free navigation apps which fully supports the mapping of walking routes. It's a great help for tourists when there is a need to build a path for later offline use. 

    A manual on how to create routes for pedestrians in the Google Maps app:

    1. Your Internet must be enabled.
    2. Specify your destination on a map (by clicking on it) via the "Route" button.
    3. The "Go" button is the icon with the image of a person.
    4. My location is "Where". 
    5. Instead of "Where", if necessary, set the destination point.
    6. Google Maps will select the best walking route taking into account the area you're going to.
    7. If there are several options available, you can choose the one that suits you best. 
    8. Besides, the distance and travelling time with steps and turns are also displayed.

    Google Maps developers note that the pedestrian mode is under testing, so there may be some inaccuracies and errors. However, this isn't very crucial for a pedestrian, similar to driving fast in a car, when the app must respond quickly to travel conditions.

    A nice bonus for the mobile version (Android/iOS) users is that Google Maps works offline. It's a useful and often indispensable feature for walking and hiking.

    You can download a map and travel to different countries without having to worry about an Internet connection. However, it's impossible to map a walking route without the Internet; therefore you'll have to use GPS coordinates only.

    Advantages

    Disadvantages

    • Regular update,
    • Free of charge,
    • Partially operates autonomously,
    • Google Maps is convenient as a navigation app for pedestrians and tourists not bound to a region.
    • Alas, without the Internet, its functionality is significantly limited,
    • You can't set the optimal route automatically.

     

    Download the app: Android | iOS

    Yandex Maps with its walking routes across Russia, Ukraine and Turkey

    In 2020, Yandex Maps were improved with a lot of additional features, both for Android and iOS. The developers adapted the app for pedestrians too. Now via it, you can build the routes you need. However, this applies only for users from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey and a dozen other countries.

    Coming back to the topic of our review, here are the main Yandex Maps features:

    • Creating walking routes with time and distance calculation
    • Building alternative routes (via bicycle or public transport)
    • Comparing all routes with the one you chose by time and distance 
    • Mapping a pedestrian route between buildings and other objects.

    A grid of paths, trails, and sidewalks is used to build walking routes. The final way of navigation differs from the highways. As Yandex developers state, drawing up maps of such kind for pedestrians is a process with a complex algorithm. Map updates are done by volunteers.

    Advantages

    Disadvantages

    • You can view maps and track your position without the Internet
    • This navigation app will be useful for pedestrians and tourists in Russia
    • The maximum distance of a route is 50 km
    • You can't set walking routes without online access
    • Doesn't work in Europe

     

     

    Download the app: iOS | Android

    Maps.me is a navigation app for pedestrians with detailed OSM-maps

    It's also another free app. The app is suitable for motorists, cyclists and, of course, pedestrians. It can also be used for hiking, walking and tourism.

    Maps.me offline features are available for all maps. Its navigation is implemented in much the same way as in Google Maps. If necessary, a required map section (city, region) is downloaded, which will be available for offline use in the future. 

    If you often go for a walk, not in the most popular places, you might have already noticed that the Internet isn't available everywhere. So its autonomy is a big pro of this app.  

    Data from the OpenStreetMap (OSM) service is used for creating maps. These maps are often more detailed when compared to the other navigation apps mentioned in this review. 

    The maps are quite comprehensive, which is vital for both hiking and cycling trips. A pedestrian will find necessary or exciting places, and in general, is less likely to take a wrong way. In a small unfamiliar city, the chances to find the right house or at least a street are much higher. 

    How to create a walking route via Maps.me:

    1. Select the destination address – "Here".
    2. Click on the pedestrian icon – "Start".
    3. Maps.me displays the speed, route and travel time and distance.

    Advantages

    Disadvantages

    • OpenStreetMap maps are frequently updated by the user community
    • It contains a full range of features that are unavailable in Google Maps and similar navigation apps
    • Its maps are very detailed with options for displaying layers
    • There is a night mode (turns on after sunset)
    • Alas, the information isn't always up-to-date 
    • High location accuracy location when hiking

     

    Download maps.me: iOS | Android

    "IGH" LITE - a navigation app. for mushroom pickers

    Many people aren't big fans of the excessive functionality of some mobile navigation apps. And such gadgets as Garmin are quite inconvenient for simple tasks, moreover, they aren't distributed for free.

    "IGH" LITE is a perfect app for mushroom pickers and fishermen due to having essential functions for building walking routes. It's extremely easy to use the app. Even the elderly who face difficulties with remembering the way or navigating in the forest will cope with it. 

    First, you need to enable the navigation on your phone and wait for it to connect to satellites. We recommend doing it in an open area so that there will be no interference that prevents from syncing with the satellite.

    "IGH" LITE features:

    • Remembering the initial coordinates on a map, i.e. the place where you have to return to (for example, your car).
    • Saving points with names and descriptions on a map in any form.
    • Mapping a route from your current coordinates to a given point
    • Work in a home mode with voice-over capability

    Advantages

    Disadvantages

    • The app is free (but ads are shown)
    • You can't save maps

    Download the "IGH" LITE app

    F.A.Q.

    Google Maps or Yandex.Location inaccurately indicate location. How can I fix it?

    Try reconnecting your mobile Internet connection. Problems often occur due to a network failure. Move to another place: there might be an ill satellite connection where you are. If it doesn't work, restart your device. Another way is to reinstall or update the app. 

    If you don't manage to fix the issue via the described methods, please report it to the developer. You can do it via the "Leave a review" menu item or Play Store.


    Why are pedestrian maps not as accurate as drivers maps?

    First of all, maps were created for highways. Walking routes were drawn later, and they haven't been made for all areas yet. Moreover, there are highways with sidewalks and highways where people aren't allowed to walk. Cartographers who are in charge of transport routes don't always note pedestrian zones near them.

    In addition to it, walking routes are much broader and more variable than them, so it slows down the process of marking them on a map. Tourist maps for walking trails aren't systematised separately from highways.


    What kind of improvements do the developers plan to make to the Google Maps service for pedestrians?

    From time to time, adjustments are made: changing tabs appearance or adding new ones, equipping the navigation app with quick access to saved placemarks and objects located nearby and improving routes details. Useful functions are created, for example, information about public transport congestion or transport stops are specified. Also, data on train conditions are entered: temperature, availability of seats for women in train carriages. There is an option of showing the level of street lighting in the beta version, which is currently under test.​