GETTING YOU THERE ON TIME WITH GPS APPS

AAA puts the top three GPS apps to the test



Sometimes getting from point A to point B during the heart of rush hour or on a long trip can be a real challenge. Between construction, traffic delays, accidents—even potholes or broken-down cars—picking the best route in a sea of variables can be difficult. That’s why drivers are increasingly turning to GPS apps to get them across town or across the country on time.

Even if you know the streets in your neighborhood, it’s pretty clear that apps like Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps can help you get to your destination on time, or even a little faster than you expected. But which GPS app does the best job of getting you from point A to point B as fast as possible, while providing you with information you need to be an informed driver? We put the three apps to the test to find out which is the best bet for your next trip.

HOW WE DID IT
We sent three test vehicles to the bustling Cincinnati suburb of Liberty Township, Ohio, to see how well each GPS app would get our drivers back to downtown Cincinnati during the heart of a busy weekday afternoon rush hour. 

WHAT WE FOUND
While the three apps finished the drive within six minutes of each other, Waze was the clear winner, finishing two minutes ahead of second place Apple Maps, and six minutes ahead of third place Google Maps. Waze also had the most accurate initial estimated time of arrival, predicting their 3:54 p.m. arrival to the minute.

 

WAZE –             1ST PLACE

APPLE MAPS – 2ND PLACE

GOOGLE MAPS – 3RD PLACE

Start Time

3:17 p.m.

3:17 p.m.

3:17 p.m.

Finish Time

3:54 p.m.

3:56 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

Total Drive Time

37:55

39:02

42:52

Initial ETA

3:54 p.m.

3:52 p.m.

3:51 p.m.

Actual Arrival vs. Initial ETA

No difference

4 minutes off

9 minutes off


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
While it’s important to know which app gets you to your destination fastest, each of the apps comes with its own set of bells and whistles that may be enough to sway you to give it a try. We compare all three apps so you can decide which is best for you.

 

WAZE

APPLE MAPS

GOOGLE MAPS

Ease of Use

Extremely easy to use

Very intuitive and great for less tech-savvy users

Generally easy to use, but the in-vehicle experience is different from the online experience many users may be accustomed to

Search Features

Drivers can search by address or location name

Drivers can search by address or location name

Drivers can search by address or location name

Voice Navigation

Drivers can select from a variety of voices and languages, or record their own navigation. Be advised that some voice options won’t read street names.

Limited voice options. Audio instructions occasionally lagged the vehicle’s actual position on the route.

Limited voice options. Audio instructions frequently lagged the vehicle’s actual position on the route.

Hazard Notifications On-Screen

Since data is crowd-sourced, the app provides on-screen and voice notifications of traffic, accidents, road hazards, construction, police activity, and more.

Limited on-screen notifications (primarily accidents and traffic) are provided, but the notices are small and can be difficult to understand.

Limited on-screen notifications (primarily accidents and traffic) are provided, but the notices are small and can be difficult to understand.

Speed Limit Display

Feature included and generally accurate

Feature available, but not always accurate

Feature not available

Lane Guidance

Feature not available

Feature available, but not always accurate

Feature available and provides visual and voice guidance, but not always accurate

Map Accuracy

No accuracy issues, since maps can be corrected by users

Map was generally up-to-date, but the maps can occasionally be out of date.

Map was generally up-to-date, but navigation may not be aware of closed roads.

Battery Life

Can have significant impact on phone battery if used for an extended period of time.

Minimal battery impacts

Minimal battery impacts

Roadside Assistance

Users can request Roadside Assistance through AAA or other providers directly through the app.

Feature not available

Feature not available

In-App Advertising

Limited in-app advertising, normally only when the vehicle is stopped

No in-app advertising

No in-app advertising