Google and Apple are competing in the map space by offering a whole bunch of interesting features. But, do you know that there are some senior players in the scene, improving their services by adding some really cool features?
MapQuest is one of them. It went online years before Google introduced its mapping service. And now, it has gone one step ahead of Google in the iOS map world by offering free turn-by-turn navigation and voice prompt facilities.
We must tell you that unlike navigation-focused apps, the MapQuest app does little to help users look up destinations. There are no buttons for previous or favorite destinations, and no real points-of-interest database.
At the top of the map the main screen shows a free-form search box where users can enter an address or business name. It recognizes short forms too; you can simply type SF if you have no patience to spell out San Francisco. Also, when you enter a letter, it immediately brings up a list of prior searches that started with that letter.
There’s a menu bar at the bottom of the screen with icons for gas stations, banks, restaurants, and other categories. Touch one of these and corresponding icons light up on the map, and any one of these can be set as a destination.
It is also easier to find the cheapest nearby gas station with the app as it has gas station listing that includes per-gallon fuel prices.
The app will not load new maps in areas without cell towers as it depends on active data connection to work. But its standard maps load quickly in 2D mode and you can zoom in to see building outlines.
Once you set a destination, MapQuest calculates the route and then you can start voice navigation which works really well. The interface also shows turn directions in addition to giving voice prompts. It even recalculates if you get off its suggested route.
So those are the pros and cons. However, MapQuest is absolutely free in a world where other app makers charge for features like voice prompts and turn-by-turn navigation.