September 28, 2010 | Andy Boxall
If the smartphone has adversely affected the market for standalone GPS units, how will free navigation apps affect the market for pay apps? Available right now inside the App Store is NavFree, a free GPS navigation application for the iPhone and the iPad, which will undoubtedly suffice for many people who may be considering paying for such an application.
It works in a similar way to Skobbler in that it uses the OpenStreetMap system. For those unfamiliar with this, they’re a collection of user-editable maps available under the Creative Commons license and can therefore be used at no charge, so think of it as a map version of Wikipedia.
NavFree as we have mentioned, is a free download, but don’t be expecting it to be devoid of features, as it actually has a healthy list of available functions. Most importantly, the maps are stored locally so there is no need for a data connection unless you’re searching for addresses, plus you can choose between 2D or 3D images, voice-guidance, turn-by-turn navigation, auto-rerouting, a night/day mode and the chance to listen to the iPod while the app is running.
You’ll also find a Google or Bing search bar, points-of-interest and pedestrian navigation too. Although all this is free, an in-app purchase option to be added in a future update will give the option to update to the Mavmii app, which uses Teleatlas maps and provides speed camera locations and traffic updates.
At this point NavFree is available for the UK and Ireland, but a US and a European version is planned. As with all of these crowd-sourced tools, it’s important that the community puts something back in, so if you do use it, don’t forget to update the maps where you can.