Does your family have summer vacation travel plans? Then you know whether going across town or across the country, navigating to your destination has never been easier. Bulky maps that seemed to never unfold properly without a struggle are no longer necessary. Advances in mobile technology and the availability of GPS-based smartphone apps—now help lead us where we need to go, identifying the most direct routes while diverting from potential traffic headaches.
The use of navigational smartphone apps continues to rise in popularity, with 47% of vehicle owners using a smartphone-based app while driving, according to a recent J.D. Power survey. Combine this popularity with the availability of many high-quality free navigational apps, and it’s easy to see how helpful these tools can be.
- Google’s free app, Google Maps (available at iTunes/Google Play), is one of our favorite GPS/mapping mobile apps. Beginning with a welcome screen that shows current location in satellite, terrain or Google Earth views, users then input their destination through search or a convenient feature, “Explore Nearby,” which lists restaurants, shopping and businesses in other categories in and around a specific location. Google Maps also identifies delays along the way through traffic alerts, with faster alternate routes suggested. Other options allow bypass of specific transportation venues such as toll roads, expressways and ferries—and also offer street views of destinations. For non-drivers, the app also offers public transit, bicycling or walking directions.
- Scout by Telenav (iTunes/Google Play) is a free app focused on road travel, built upon features and functions available through standard stand-alone GPS devices. Its “My Scout” option establishes settings for frequently accessed addresses and preferences for maps (with options for 2-D or 3-D views), navigation, alerts (such as for red-light cameras and speed traps) and audio. Similar to Google Maps, Scout finds routes that match preferences for specific types of transportation venues, provides updated traffic conditions and finds nearby businesses. A unique Scout feature: users can text destinations and estimated arrival times to other mobile numbers or designated recipients from their contact lists. Recipients receive a link, from which they can login and track your “real time” arrival.
- Waze is a free app (iTunes/Google Play) recently purchased by Google. It now shares some functionality with Google Maps, such as search capability and navigation. However, it offers a major differentiator: real-time traffic, accident, construction and police information reported by other users as it happens—a valuable aid for nimbly avoiding potential hazards and delays. Waze’s Share Drive option connects users to each other within the app, and preferences save your favorite routes for ongoing reference. It also enables voice commands for hands-free operation.
While these apps will certainly make your travels easier, be mindful of accessing these tools when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi. The strength of your smartphone’s cellular signal can greatly vary by area when you’re traveling. When possible, try to connect your devices to a Wi-Fi network. This includes your in-home Wi-Fi connection, powered by Frontier. Prevent data overages by downloading travel apps and loading maps before your travels using your home’s Wi-Fi connection. Don’t forget to fully charge your devices before hitting the road!
With apps downloaded through your Frontier high-speed Internet connection, your smartphone becomes an essential navigation aid to make your travels faster and easier, whether for business or pleasure!