Looking for a Google Maps Alternative? This App Just Got a Big Update

Magic Earth on CarPlay 7 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Magic Earth
Magic Earth on AndroidMagic Earth on AndroidMagic Earth on AndroidMagic Earth on AndroidMagic Earth on AndroidMagic Earth on Android
Google Maps is often the go-to application for navigation, but it's not a secret that many people look for alternatives specifically because they want to live in a world without Google. Others want to give up on Google Maps because it doesn't work correctly.
Magic Earth is an application that tries to entice Google Maps users with a total privacy commitment. The company says it doesn't collect any data, so all your details and places you go to don't leave the device.

If the Magic Earth name doesn't ring any bells, it's worth mentioning that this application pioneered the CarPlay Dashboard integration in the Apple ecosystem. Many years ago, when Apple rolled out the Dashboard on CarPlay, allowing users to run multiple apps side by side on the same screen, it needed developers to update their apps to support the new feature.

The big guys needed too many weeks to make it happen, so Google Maps and Waze weren't initially available on the Dashboard. Magic Earth was the first to get such capabilities, giving users a taste of what a navigation app feels like on the new CarPlay interface.

The application then entered a hibernation mode, not receiving major updates for a long time. Earlier this year, the parent company rediscovered the app and started rolling out massive packs of improvements. A new version with important goodies started rolling out in late November.

Magic Earth version 7.9.3, now available from the Apple Store, includes enhanced Map Layers features, letting users enable and disable Points of Interest, 3D buildings, and other elements showing up on the map. It means it's now easier to enable and disable all these items, as you can do it from the Map Layers without going to settings.

The application also comes with elevation and steepness information in the navigation panel for pedestrian routes. Magic Earth promises a complete Google Maps-inspired package, so it also sports a walking mode. The new update includes options to see the elevation and steepness of each route, letting you figure out if the suggested route is difficult before you begin receiving step-by-step instructions to a destination.

As is the case with every update, Magic Earth version 7.9.3 also includes additional fixes. The new release fixes a speed view layout issue on iOS 15. However, if you're running a more recent iOS version, such as iOS 17 (released in September for the iPhone XS and newer), Magic Earth didn't exhibit this problem.

The previous updates also brought big improvements, including elevation and steepness for bike routes and the speed view enabled for users who keep the app running on the screen or on CarPlay without navigation to direct them to a specific destination.
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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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