Google Maps Is the Best Android Auto Navigation App, Period

Google Maps dark mode on Android Auto 6 photos
Photo: Google
Sygic on Android AutoTomTom navigation on Android AutoGoogle Maps on Android AutoGoogle Maps on Android AutoGoogle Maps on Android Auto
Earlier this year, Google has officially removed an Android Auto restriction that blocked third parties from bringing their apps to the car and therefore compete against the search giant’s own solutions.
Google has therefore unlocked Android Auto, paving the way for more apps in certain key categories, including navigation software, where Google Maps was obviously the king of the castle.

In fact, until Google lifted this block, Google Maps and Waze (also owned by Google) were pretty much the only choices for Android Auto users who needed a navigation app behind the wheel. But once Google finally implemented this change, several other high-profile navigation software developers joined the battle, bringing their own solutions to the search giant’s playground and therefore competing against Google Maps directly.

We already discussed the best Google Maps alternatives on Android Auto, so if you’re looking for a similar application, the ones from TomTom and Sygic are certainly worth trying. But today, we’re going to dissect the reasons that continue to make Google Maps the go-to navigation application for everyone using Android Auto when getting behind the wheel.

While I’m not going to do a side-by-side comparison with the competing products currently on Android Auto, there are three things that I think set Google Maps aside from the rest of the crowd.

Google Maps on Android Auto
Photo: Google
The first of them is how often the app is updated. Google Maps receives improvements on Android Auto at least once a week, and if you’re part of the beta program, there’s a chance you get a new version every few days. This shows just how committed Google truly is to making Google Maps offer a polished experience on both mobile devices and in the car, and in the long term, this is something critical for both the company and its users.

And speaking of updates, Google is currently working on several pretty big improvements for Android Auto, including a driving mode that would make Google Maps a central hub for the experience in the car. Google Maps would therefore replace Android Auto for phones with the help of a new touch-optimized interface with one-tap access to everything like calls, messages, and music apps. The driving mode is currently in testing in a limited number of countries on Android, and it’s unlikely to make its way to iPhones anytime soon.

So as compared to its competitors, Google Maps is so frequently updated that it’s hard for a bug to remain unfixed. For users, this means impressive reliability, and truth be told, it’s hard to find a long-time issue in Google Maps that’s still around these days and is fully caused by the app itself and not by a bad cable or a related app (such as Google app, which powers the Google Assistant integration).

Sygic on Android Auto
Photo: Sygic
After updates, another strong point for Google Maps on Android Auto is the freeware license. Google critics have always claimed that complex apps like Google Maps are free for a good reason, as users would have to give up on their data and therefore make a huge tradeoff to use the app without paying, but we’re not here to discuss such controversies anyway.

We live in a world where huge amounts of data are collected every second by nearly every single developer out there, so let’s just stick with the basics.

Google Maps is free, so as compared to Sygic’s GPS navigation product, which is only available for a fee, it can be used by anyone without paying a single cent. Pair the freeware license with the regular updates we talked about earlier and you get a mix that’s pretty impossible to beat both in the short and the long term.

TomTom navigation on Android Auto
Photo: TomTom
And the third and the most important thing that makes Google Maps the king of the navigation apps on Android Auto is the feature package it offers. Google Maps has everything you’d expect to find in a powerful navigation app, from offline maps, voice guidance, day and night modes, voice commands, alerts, different ways of determining the best route to a specific destination, and pretty much everything else.

And as I said earlier, Google is continuously working on further improving Google Maps, so for example, the application will soon be able to provide a fully personalized experience by only displaying the POIs that are relevant to each and every one of us. So for instance, if you’re driving from work back home, you should only see the restaurants that are still open along your route, all based on your previous stops, meaning that Google Maps only displays the places where you could really be interested to go.

This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no room for improvements. There is, and one of the features Google Maps should get, for instance, is support for a truck mode, as lorry drivers currently have to turn to other applications, such as Sygic’s, to make sure their vehicles fit a road indicated by the nav software.

So at the end of the day, Google Maps offers an unbeatable combination of regular updates and an always-evolving feature package, all available free of charge.

And this is what makes Google Maps the best navigation app on Android Auto.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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