Google Maps is one of those mobile applications most of us have used at one point. It’s popular for a reason: it actually does what it’s supposed to, and it’s free.
But Google Maps still comes with a cost. The app is notorious for collecting a tremendous amount of user data, so much so that Google has faced serious pressure from regulators around the world to modify it.
The good news is, there are other similar apps that actually respect your privacy and won’t compromise your security. Here are five alternatives you could try out.
OsmAnd is rather unique, as far as navigation software goes. For a start, it is open-source. The app also works completely offline, which doesn’t just save users from roaming charges when abroad, but also ensures greater security and privacy.
The maps on OsmAnd are regularly updated, while the app itself has a lot of useful features, such as voice guidance, traffic warnings, re-routing, and more. It also has foot and hiking trails, as well as biking paths, which is great for those who enjoy outdoor activities.
OsmAnd’s monetization model is not based on data collection, so the app has a premium version, or rather various different premium versions. Users have the option to subscribe on a monthly basis, or make a one-time purchase. With that said, OsmAnd can also be used for free.
2. Sygic Maps
Founded in 2004, Sygic is a Slovakian corporation that specializes in navigation software. Its products may not be as popular as Google Maps, but Sygic was actually one of the first companies to offer navigation apps for smartphones.
Sygic provides various navigation solutions, including professional navigation for fleets and automobiles—Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, for example, use Sygic’s products. But the company’s mobile app offers a lot, including offline navigation, TripAdvisor recommendations, travel guides, and so on.
The free version works great, and one can argue that it is in no way inferior to Google Maps. However, the premium one (based on a subscription model) includes offline 3D maps, speed camera alerts, real-time traffic information, sign recognition, and even things like information gas price updates.
3. Apple Maps
It is a widely-known fact that Apple devices are safer and more private than those using the Android operating system. The same can be said for Apple’s software products, which collect a minuscule amount of data compare to those developed by Google and other tech giants.
That’s one of the reasons Apple Maps is a far better choice than Google Maps, if you care about protecting your privacy. In fact, as the company states on its official website, Apple Maps only collects personal information “submitted through Ratings & Photos or Report an Issue.”
Apple Maps may not be as powerful as some other similar applications, but it works just fine and has sleek, intuitive design. The problem is, of course, the app is only available on iOS devices.
However, there is an easy workaround if you’re using Android.
If you’re on Android and want to use Apple Maps, all you need to do is access the DuckDuckGo search engine through your browser—DuckDuckGo’s map system is actually powered by Apple Maps.
Download: Apple Maps for iOS (Free)
4. HERE WeGo
If you’re a millennial or older, you definitely remember old Nokia phones—everyone owned one in the early 2000s. What most people don’t know is that Nokia had its own mapping software. It went through several iterations and name changes over the years (it was actually called Nokia Maps at one point), and rebranded as HERE Maps in 2012.
In December 2015, Nokia’s HERE was sold to a consortium of German automobile companies. Soon after that, it was rebranded as HERE WeGo. The HERE WeGo app is now available on all major play stores, and actually does a pretty good job getting you from point A to point B.
More importantly, HERE WeGo respects user privacy in a way Google Maps does not. Unsurprisingly, it still collects some personal information, but this can be disabled in the settings menu.
Navmii uses a combination of artificial intelligence, crowdsourcing, and open data to generate maps. It is suitable for both individuals and businesses, and used by companies such as Jaguar, Shell, Land Rover, and Philips. Navmii offers different solutions for automotive navigation, truck navigation, and mobile navigation.
Available on both iOS and Android platforms, the Navmii app contains ads and includes in-app purchases, which is certainly something to keep in mind. However, the vast majority of features can be used free of charge, so this won’t be an issue for most users.
It is possible to opt-out of data collection, so make sure you do that if you’re not comfortable with Navmii accessing your data. All in all, Navmii is a capable mapping and navigation app that doesn’t violate user privacy in a major way.
It’s Time to Ditch Google Maps
Google Maps is useful, powerful, accurate, and easy to use. But if you want to keep your privacy, you should avoid it. OsmAnd, Sygic Maps, Apple Maps, HERE WeGo, and Navmii may not be perfect, but they are certainly great alternatives.
And if you’d like to additionally boost your privacy, consider downloading other security-focused apps. Whether you’re using an iPhone or Android device, they can make a real difference.