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During the years I have grown dissatisfied with Google Maps, for a number of reasons:

  • Places in Google Maps are inserted by the community, and it's a cesspool. I have noticed a growing number of places which are a joke (Morons' Parking Lot), offensive (Wall against foreigners), private (mom & dad's house -- clearly added by someone who didn't realize their edits were done on a public map), duplicate places (sometimes I've found the same business listed 4 times), nonexistent or irrelevant places, junk (asdfasdf4321), or just spam (businesses adding their URL to random places, or adding nonexistent places labeled with their business).

  • Reviews are absolutely unreliable.

  • ETAs are off by 30%-100% in case of traffic jams.

  • Navigation route is sometimes wrong because of out-of-date maps. I live in a major European city, and here a primary road right in the city center is still marked as two-way despite the municipality having changed it as one-way several years ago; I did an edit to correct it but was never considered.

  • Some roads are marked as "closed" for no apparent reason, and have been like that for years.

So, my question is: Is there a valid Android app alternative to Google Maps, for mapping/navigation?

Apple Maps is unfortunately for iOS only. There is Waze, but it doesn't feature traffic information.

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    I have also noticed everything you mentioned. From Google Maps being a cesspool, to ETAs being off so much that they are meaningless. Your posting is timely because a good friend of mine called just the other day and mentioned these issues as well. Waze is now owned by Google, and it has reportedly gone downhill since the acquisition. I used MAPS.ME years ago (before they switched to that name), and had good success, but I haven't tried it recently. I don't recall if it had traffic information. Dec 3, 2021 at 11:27
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    Some more alternatives are in my corresponding app list: Navigation. I personally use OsmAnd (free at F-Droid, paid at Play), and have heard good things about OrganicMaps (less complex but very reliable). In the past I've used Locus Maps, which is also great (but bound to your Google account which is why I replaced it, no longer having a Google account). Some resources for Locus & OsmAnd I've collected in my Locus Maps & OsmAnd Resources.
    – Izzy
    Dec 3, 2021 at 13:46
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    My favourite is the food truck that was parked - years ago - for a few hours in a vacant lot. It's been listed on Google Maps as a permanent restaurant at that location for years. I wonder how many people try to go there and just find a vacant lot that is now surrounded by an ugly fence. Dec 6, 2021 at 2:29
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    @Izzy Thanks. Great to know it's on F-Droid too. I thought I had all the F-Droid apps memorized by now! I think more than half my apps are from F-Droid, and I'm hoping some of the ones that aren't can be added in the future. I'll admit that I do also have 1 or 2 apps that are available on F-Droid, but I installed them from the Evil Empire because the Play Store version gets updated on a more timely basis. Dec 6, 2021 at 13:38
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    We're working hard on getting good stuff in (I even run around encouraging developers). If you add my repo to your F-Droid client, you get about 700 additional apps which are otherwise only available at Play (or not even there; some are exclusive with my repo). That might already fill a gap or two :)
    – Izzy
    Dec 6, 2021 at 15:41

2 Answers 2

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+50

Whenever you look for an alternative to some Android app (or an Android app per se), my app listings can serve well. In this case it is: Navigation. But as on SR we don't just drop links to search engines or lists, I'll of course name some examples I feel recommendable for your case.

The first two are based on OpenStreetMap (OSM). You've mentioned badly maintained user-contributed material with Google Maps. OSM lives from user contributions as well, but here the maintainers are humans so the results are usually way better.

I personally use OsmAnd, more precisely the version freely available at F-Droid (I stopped using Google PlayStore entirely some years ago). It works quite reliably, even with navigation – be it by car¹, on a bike or per pedes. There are plenty of additions, plug-ins and maps available. The concept is to work offline, so all material is downloaded to the device – which works quite granular (though it might be a bit tricky at times to find out what piece is missing on a route). Overall I'm quite satsified with OsmAnd.

  • offline navigation (incl. night mode)
  • public transport
  • trip recording
  • POIs, WikiVoyage, Wikipedia integration and more
  • cycling, hiking, driving…
  • huge collection of addons and other material, e.g. listed at IzzyOnDroid


OsmAnd: Routing, navigation, downloads (click images for larger variants)

My second recommendation is OrganicMaps – again from F-Droid. This is a fork of the app RockpaperLizard recommended, Maps.Me, which was made when the original MapsWithMe was sold and was undergoing massive changes not really welcomed by the community. I have not used this app myself, but heard it recommended many times as being easier to handle than OsmAnd while not having all its features, so I tend to think of it as "simplified OsmAnd". Routing etc. is said to work great with this one, too.


OrganicMaps: Routing, navigation (here in night mode; larger pictures again on click)

Being available at F-Droid means, as for OsmAnd, the app is open source and covered by a free/libre license. Both authors of course welcome donations, so should you decide for one and be happy with it, consider a "material thank-you" :)

And if you want to help and contribute to OpenStreetMap, you can find some apps here supporting you with that: add missing POIs, improve descriptions and more. All your contributions will go through a review, which should help avoiding the problem you outlined.

Off the record (as it's not FOSS), I'll also mention Locus Maps – which I used happily for years when I still had a Google account. I also contributed to this app which, like OsmAnd, is quite modular. It allows to select between many map sources, has a lot of add-ons and material available (find some listed here at my website again). While quite bound to Google, the author still has an eye for privacy, which shows e.g. in the fact he separated addressbook access from the main app into a separate addon, so it's your decision how much you trust him. Locus even supports importing your own KMZ files, so you can have your own travel guides including images and all, completely self-contained (OsmAnd only offers GPX for this). And it works entirely offline as you wish, but can also be used with online maps – so no gaps on routing where you have to figure the missing piece. There's a paid version available as well, offering the full range of features. Unfortunately, both of them come with trackers (I don't know when this started), including Facebook, so for me the app lost its "privacy seal".


¹ I only miss here are traffic information and re-route recommendations on jams – but I'm sure even that is possible if you know how

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    I would mention that this apps lack traffic data, making them sadly worse than Google Maps for the car navigation. Reliance on OpenStreetMap data has both benefits (open data, you can actually fix it oif you want, in some areas and cases better than Google - especially for hiking, cycling and walking) and negatives (in some cases worse than Google, especially for car naviagation). Jan 10 at 2:02
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    @reducingactivity thanks for the pointer – but that was mentioned see e.g. the footnote. I miss taffic dails on car navigation as well – but apart from that, OsmAnd proved more reliable than the car's built-in TomTom which wanted to route me via a highway that was not there (only planned for 2 years later). Plus the privacy win over dat collecting services, this makes it a good (if in fact improvable) solution.
    – Izzy
    Jan 10 at 23:40
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For several years, I used what is now called MAPS.ME.

One of the best features of MAPS.ME is that you can download the maps locally to your device. This means that you can use fast (and likely free) WiFi when you are at home, work, or school.

By downloading the regional maps ahead of time, it also allows your device's battery to last longer when you need it most: when traveling.

Downloading the maps ahead of time also allows you to scroll the maps without the noticeable delays in apps like Google Maps as it has to try to keep up with your scrolling by downloading more and more data.

Unlike Google Maps, the MAPS.ME maps were not littered with nonsensical locations that would only interest a few people.

The only reason I stopped using MAPS.ME was that I take quite a few photographs and I temporarily uninstalled it during a trip to make more room for photographs. Shortly thereafter, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I stopped traveling.

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  • Does Maps.ME have navigation with instructions, like Google Maps / Wayz?
    – einpoklum
    Dec 12, 2021 at 12:52
  • @einpoklum Yes, but it's much better than Google Maps / Google Waze because navigation will work entirely offline in MAPS.ME. Dec 12, 2021 at 13:45
  • I've tried MAPS.ME, 90% of the places in my current location are apartments to rent for holidays or B&B. Will try again in a different location but for now I'm not favorably impressed. Thanks for the recommendation anyway!
    – dr_
    Dec 26, 2021 at 19:07
  • @dr_ Thanks for the feedback. Was it unable to find the addresses or did you experience a different issue? Which country/countries? Dec 26, 2021 at 20:19
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    Nowadays "Organic Maps" is a fork that dropped most of bad thigs like booking.com ads shown on map. Jan 10 at 2:00

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