The 9 best navigation and travel apps for tablets

December 14, 2011

Our findings are a mix of free and paid-for satnav apps, as well as a handful of innovative navigation apps for finding where you parked your car, what time your flight is or for finding shortcuts around traffic in the local area.

1. NavFree
This simple but feature-rich free app supports voice directions and speeding/traffic enforcement camera detection, in addition to the usual search and navigation options. The app also offers the ability to send your location to friends via Google and a Wi-Fi connection.

2. Skobbler
This $0.99 iPad app has some neat features including the chance to view maps offline, get directions to people on your contact list, and to listen to your music library. There is also a night mode, which inverses the map colours. Skobbler offers simple navigation, voice output, longitude, latitude as well as speed and estimated time and mileage to destination.

3. Co-Pilot Live
For those who want something a bit more, there are tablet-optimized apps from both Co-Pilot Live and TomTom.

Co-Pilot Live has recently had an overhaul to become more tablet friendly, for both Android and iOS. Different versions of Co-Pilot are available across the US and Europe and ALK, the company behind the apps, claims to now offer more information layers and a details bar on the right hand-side, making better use of tablet screens.

The app offers conventional satnav controls, as well as the ability to do Wikipedia searches for your destination. Co-Pilot Live is available on both the iPad and for Android tablets and is reasonably priced at $29.99. Do note that this app only works with the 3G iPad.

4. TomTom
TomTom is perhaps the biggest player in the satellite navigation area, and like ALK, has a raft of apps for North America and Europe, among other regions. The iPhone app was recently upgraded for iPad optimization, with version 1.9 now promising to offer improved maps on the sharper display and user interface of the iPad.

This version is compatible with iOS 5 and also promises more accurate info about fixed speed camera locations, improved details on points of interests, and the chance to switch driving views with just one touch from anywhere within the app. Additional in-app purchases, like two minute traffic updates and Speed Camera alerts, are also available for a small additional fee. The app supports Wi-Fi and 3G iPads but is costly at $49.99.

Travel Enhancements

Outside of the traditional satellite navigation tablet apps, a raft of non-satnav apps can also improve your journey, if not your travel times.

5. GPark
This is a fantastic, yet simple, app with a singluar purpose: finding where you left your car. Images are based on Google Maps, Google Earth (satellite) or a hybrid view of both and users simply have to press the ‘park me’ button to ‘park’ your car and the ‘where did I park?’ button for the car's location. The app can then give you directions to the parked location. Best of all, GPark is free.

6. Waze
A free, fun and useful app which you can use to beat the traffic, waze allows drivers to tweet traffic news to local drivers, or connect to Facebook to see who is ‘Wazing’. Waze is a neat way of alerting others about traffic news, jams, police hazards and speed traps, and will route you around blocked up areas nearby to you. Probably not a good idea to use while driving though. 

7. Aug SatNav
Sometimes, you need directions for short distances, especially when you are in unfamiliar territory. This is where AugSatNav comes in; it's a US-only app that uses an augmented reality to navigate the user, rather than a map. This app is available for free and is for Android smartphones and tablets.

8. FlightTrack Pro
This app is for those who need to know quickly which gate to run to and when. The app, which costs $9.99 for the iPad and which is also available for Android smartphones, advises the user on terminal delays, weather conditions and even allows you to track and zoom in on the live map.

9. My Vacation HD for iPad
Finishing off the list is this interesting little app, which is more of a travel-based journal, than an out-and-out navigation tool. It's a great central repository for logging photos, places you've visited (on the map) and a journal from your holiday. The app is now available from iTunes for $4.99.

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