Even if you’ve lived in your city your entire life, there are bound to be roads and routes with which you are unfamiliar. You also might not be aware of all the alternate ways to get from Point A to Point B—knowledge which might be necessary if traffic is backed up because of an accident or if roads are closed due to construction. As a rideshare driver, it is important that you know how to get around and how to get your passengers to their destinations quickly and efficiently.
Some rideshare drivers have GPS devices in their cars, but many find it more cost-effective and convenient to use navigation apps that they have downloaded onto their cellular phones. When it comes to GPS apps, you have several options. Deciding on the app that is right for you will depend on a number of factors including the type of phone you use, how much (if any) money you are willing spend, and which apps interface you find the most intuitive to use.
So without further ado, let’s first take a look at the best GPS apps for Uber and Lyft drivers, then take a look at the best phones to actually drive those apps.
First in our list of the best GPS apps for rideshare drivers are the free navigation apps. While somewhat limited on rideshare-specific features, these apps provide quick, easy, and accurate directions to and from a rider’s location.
1. Google Maps
When it comes to free GPS navigations apps, Google is frequently referred to as the standard bearer and many competing apps see it as the one to beat. This GPS navigation comes preloaded on many Android phones, and several iPhone owners have found it to be superior to the Apple Maps that came loaded on their phones.
Compatible with: Android and Apple wireless phones
Pros: This is the established industry standard for free wireless GPS mapping systems. It features one of the most sophisticated mapping tools available. Some of its many benefits include a clean interface, indications when you are nearing your exit, the ability to reroute in the event of heavy traffic, and the visual display of all lanes on the highway. Also, Google acquired Waze in 2013. While these two apps are still separate and different, this has enabled Google Maps to rely on great real-time traffic information as provided by Waze.
Cons: Google Maps does not have a night-mode feature, so at night, unless you manually reduce the brightness of your phone’s screen, it may serve as much of a distraction as it does a helpful tool. Also, this app is not as compatible with wearable devices as the Apple Maps are. It can also be slow to load at times and uses a lot of system power so it can drain your battery quickly.
2. Apple Maps
iPhone loyalists tend to prefer Apple offerings over other options.
Compatible with: Apple iPhone
Pros: This app is compatible with wearable devices such as the Apple watch. Users wearing these devices can receive notification via a series of vibrations which will allow them to know that a turn is coming up, and which direction they will need to go.
Cons: When Apple Maps was first introduced, it was buggy, filled with user-interface problems, and often gave inaccurate directions. Much has improved since then, but many users who switched to alternate GPS navigation systems are wary about coming back. And while Apple has been working hard to improve this system, so too have its top competitors.
Get this app:
Google Play / App Store
Not available on non-Apple phones
Many people love this app because it helps them avoid heavy traffic situations.
Compatible with: Android and Apple phones
Pros: Waze encourages and relies on engagement from its community of users. They share information pertaining to traffic backups, speed traps, and road closures, and Waze uses this real-time information to offer alternate routes to those who are using the app for navigation. This app even allows users to update maps to improve accuracy. This app also allows users to find community-recommended restaurants and close-by gas stations featuring the cheapest fuel prices.
Cons: Some people find the maps cluttered, particularly on the small screen of a smart phone. Also, in less populated areas, the information offered may be less accurate or useful, though this is not typically a problem in locations where ridesharing services are popular. This app also uses a lot of data resources, so unless you have it plugged into a car charger, it is likely to drain your battery very quickly—even when it is just running in the background.
This app is built into the Uber Driver App you are already using.
Compatible with: Any smart phone running Uber’s Partner/Driver App.
Pros: Many Uber drivers rely on the Ubernav system while working. This tool relies on data from several different mapping systems, including Google Maps, Bing Maps, deCarta, and TomTom in order to provide the most complete and accurate mapping system it can. Also, since Uber drivers are already logged into the Uber Driver app, it offers the convenience of not needing to alternate between the Uber app and a third-party navigation app.
Cons: Only drivers with Uber have access to this navigation system. When this navigation system was first introduced, it was buggy, difficult to use, and often failed to provide the most efficient navigational routes. Since then, however, Uber has worked hard to improve this system’s accuracy and performance, and today it is the top choice of many Uber drivers.
Get this app:
Google Play / App Store
Available directly within the partner app
“We’ll get you there.”
Pricing: This app is, for all intents and purposes, free. However, you will need to put up with ads, which can be distracting and annoying and can slow your system down. By purchasing the premium version for a mere $2, you can avoid this irritation; so many people opt to do that. You can also purchase a number of different upgrades to customize this app to your specific wants and needs.
Compatible with: Apple and Android phones.
How it works: Navmii GPS World (also referred to as NavFree) is headquartered in London. They are proud to have launched the first free navigation app on iPhone. This app offers users a free navigational tool with the option to customize the user experience for small fees.
Pros: Navmii features voice-guided navigation, which allows you to drive without taking your eyes off the road to glance at the map. Because the maps are downloaded and stored by the app, you can use it offline which may be necessary in spots where you do not have a solid data connection, or if you are trying to conserve data usage. Users can also purchase additional add-ons such as celebrity voice navigation or live traffic updates.
Cons: Some users find the quality of navigational images to be somewhat lacking in quality. Also, because individual maps must be downloaded, you may use up data if you do that without a Wi-Fi connection.
“World class navigation for cars.”
Pricing: 7-day trial period: Free
Premium license for North America: $62.49
Premium license for the entire world: $99.99
Premium + Traffic license North America: $99.99
Premium + Traffic license for World: $124.99
Compatible with: Apple and Android phones. You must have a built-in dashboard infotainment system for this app to work in your vehicle.
How it works: This app runs on your android or Apple phone and displays its results on your car’s dashboard infotainment system . It is continually being updated as new roads are built and traffic patterns are changed. It is supported by all of the latest car models produced by major manufacturers but owners of older vehicles may not be able to use it.
Pros: This app features 3-D maps, which many people find to be more intuitive when navigating unfamiliar roads. Also, because it works using the infotainment system on your dashboard, your navigation view-screen is larger and easier to see than the smaller screen of a smart phone. This app includes many features that free navigation systems often do not, such as live traffic information, automatic re-routing, dynamic lane assistance, speed camera warnings, points of interest, and route planning. Another unique benefit of this app is that it can continue to run, even when you are offline.
Cons: As far as navigation apps go, this one is rather expensive. However, the cost is a one-time fee and includes updates for life. Also, if you keep your eye open for sales and promotions, you may be able to purchase this product for as much as 70% off the listed price.
“Award winning navigation.”
Pricing: Free 7-day trial period
$4.99 per month
$29.99 per year
$59.99 for lifetime service
How it works: This app was created by a development team in Germany and was originally designed for navigation throughout Europe. Since then, they have opened their system to North American and the world. Its navigation feature is designed to provide the fastest route to your destination.
Pros: This app can work online as well as off so that you can continue to navigate even when driving through dead zones. It also enables uses to find the lowest-priced fuel in the area as well as free-parking close to their destinations. It is exceptionally good at finding points of interest and specific locations.
Cons: For its price, the app should work better than it does. Some users complain about navigation directions that are impossible or downright dangerous. Additionally, this app is really rather expensive; and many of its features, such as traffic updates and transit directions must be purchased at an additional fee. Most people seem to find the free Google Maps app comparable or even better in many regards.
Now that we’ve talked about GPS apps for Uber and other rideshare drivers. Let’s take a look at the actual device you’ll be running them on. Nearly all smartphones on the market today include some type of GPS receiver, however, not all hardware is created equally.
Some of the best GPS enabled phones feature enhanced capabilities including:
- A-GPS: This is short for Assisted GPS. It is fast and tends to work better at finding and using satellites than basic GPS receivers do.
- GLONASS: This is short for Global Navigation Satellite System. It is a Russian satellite-based navigation system. Phones equipped with GLONASS have access to more satellites which makes them faster and far more accurate at pinpointing locations.
- BDS: This is short for BeiDou Navigation system. It is a Chinese satellite-based navigation system. Phones equipped with GLONASS have access to more satellites which makes them faster and far more accurate at pinpointing locations.
If you have an older, outdated phone, you may consider to upgrading in order to get the best performance out of your navigation app. If so, you may want to consider one of the following options:
Samsung Galaxy S7/Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Two great phones from an industry leader.
Price: Galaxy S7: $675 to $700; Galaxy S7 Edge: $790 to $800
Operating System: Android OS version 6.0 (Marshmallow)
GPS capability: GPS Capable with A-GPS, GLONASS, and BDS
Screen size: Galaxy S7: 5.1 inches; Galaxy S7 Edge: 5.5 inches
Unique Features: This phone features a sharp and vibrant screen that can make GPS navigation a bit easier on the eyes. Both models feature larger screens than their S6 predecessors, and the screen on the Edge is larger than on the standard version, and therefor easier to use for navigation purposes. This phone also features water resistance and a long-life battery.
Possible Downsides: The S7 is water-resistant, and this is good. However its water resistance may be part of the reason that its speakers are of somewhat poor quality. Many users complain that one speaker phone, the sound is weak and tinny. This may be a bit annoying if you are relying on spoken directions while using your GPS system. Also, some people fear overheating and exploding batteries. This was a problem with the Galaxy S7 Note, not the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, so you shouldn’t have to worry about that with either of these models.
One of the top android phones on the market.
Price: $500 to $690
Operating System: Android OS version 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
GPS capability: GPS Capable with A-GPS, GLONASS, and BDS
Screen size: 5.3 inch screen with Quad High Definition (QHD) diplay
Unique Features: The LG G5 comes in four different color choices: gold, titan (charcoal), silver, and pink. However, not all color choices may be available with all network carriers. Additionally, this phone features LG’s first all-metal unibody phone; however, unlike many other unibody phones this phone still enables battery removal and replacement and includes a microSD slot and a “Magic Slot” proprietary connector, making it a top choice among those who prefer the unibody design.
Possible Downsides: This phone has a rather unconventional design that people seem to either love or hate. Be sure to test it out in your hands before you make a purchase to ensure that you are among those who love it.
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
A must-have phone for Apple-product enthusiasts
Price: $630 to $650
Operating System: iOS 9.0 (can be upgraded to iOS 9.0.2)
GPS capability: GPS Capable with A-GPS and GLONASS
Screen size: 5.5 inches
Unique Features: For GPS navigational use, the iPhone 6s Plus is as good as the newer 7s Plus version, but it costs less to purchase new. Also, if you are really attached to your headphone jack, the 6s model is clearly the better choice. This phone features a fast operating system and 3D Touch, which enables uses to access more menu items simply by pressing harder on the screen. With its sleek performance, long-lasting battery, and helpful assistant, Siri, this phone is beloved by Apple-product loyalists across the globe.
Possible Downsides: If you are a long-time Android user, you may find it takes a bit of time to get used to the iPhone. Also, this phone is bigger and heavier than many Android products in the same class.
HuaWei Nexus 6P
The latest version of the Google Phone.
Price: $450 to $500
Operating System: Android OS version 6.0 (Marshmallow)
GPS capability: GPS Capable with A-GPS, and GLONASS
Screen size: 5.7 inch
Unique Features: The HuaWei Nexus is not as well-known as the other phones on this list, but in many ways, it is a superior product. It offers a clean software experience, fast and easy updates, and great sound quality when using the phone’s exterior speaker. It is also less expensive that other phones of its caliber.
Possible Downsides: Many carriers do not offer this phone in their online or brick-and-mortar stores. You would need to purchase an unlocked version of the phone and then insert a SIM card from your carrier. It may be a good idea to contact your wireless service provider ahead of time to ensure that this phone can be supported on their network, and be aware that you may have difficulty getting user support if later issues arise.
Over to You – [POLL]
Now it’s your turn.
As you experiment with different GPS navigation apps, you will likely find that one stands out as your personal favorite. What you find to be the right choice for you may differ from your Uber-driving friend in another city. That’s okay. Just as rideshare services offer people choices in how they get around, GPS apps offer drivers choices in the product that will best get them there.
We would be interested in hearing about your experiences with various apps. Is there one that you can’t live without? Did you come across one that you regretted using? Let us know in the comments.
Before you input your thoughts in the comments below, give your input on which GPS app you use when you drive with Uber: