Best [Mostly Free] Traffic Apps UK
Corner Park Garages, Swansea and Cardiff
June 12, 2019 at 11:50 AM
Satellite navigation technology has become a cornerstone of modern driving as we aim to complete all our journeys in the quickest time possible by avoiding traffic and taking the shortest route.
Sat-nav devices themselves are now considered expensive and outdated, especially when a mobile traffic app can provide the same information for free. There are countless navigation apps available on both iPhone and Android devices, so here's a run-down of the best road traffic apps on the market today.
1. Google Maps
If your smartphone has an Android operating system, Google Maps is the default navigation app and is automatically preloaded. It works with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible infotainment units which projects the map onto the car's touchscreen display, with directions given via the car's speakers.
When you sign into the app with your Google account, you can save locations that you travel to frequently (e.g. home or work). It can even help you predict what time you should leave to get to a meeting on your Google Calendar.
The turn-by-turn directions are well-timed and repeated appropriately. While you're on the move, the app continually checks alternate routes, offering options to switch to faster ones when they're available.
Powered by Google, the search function is fantastic with auto-suggestions based on past searches and the "Explore Nearby" function to see the best user-rated locations (e.g. restaurants or pubs) based on Google reviews.
2. TomTom GO
Cost: Free (up to 50 miles per month) / £14.99 for 1 year subscription
The only reason that the TomTom GO traffic app is second on this list is because it isn't free. Using a design similar to the portable sat-nav devices, the mobile navigation app features an intuitive map layout with 3D buildings.
It's the only traffic app that provides the cause of any congestion - roadworks, an accident or general traffic build-up - as well as providing the most accurate length of the delays.
Enjoy a hassle-free drive with speed camera alerts and advanced lane guidance when you're driving on roads you don't know. Alternatively, destination prediction learns your driving habits and helps to plan faster daily drives.
As one of the first digital mapping companies, TomTom has years of experience in producing consumer navigation products with regular updates to keep on top of ever-changing road layouts.
This is the largest community-based traffic app in the world. It encourages drivers to share real-time traffic information about the roads they're using, including accidents, obstructions and police presence, to help others navigate their journey using the quickest and quietest routes.
Owned by Google, it has all the knowledge of Google Maps combined with input from other app users. The Google Calendar integration from Google Maps is taken one step further by also checking your Facebook events.
The "alerts only" mode is very useful during the daily commute or other regular journeys to get information about traffic without getting turn-by-turn directions. Once you enter a destination, you'll be provided with a number of routes you can take.
Some users have reported that the app tends to favour smaller roads to avoid traffic as opposed to main roads which often means covering more miles and having to stop frequently at junctions. However, the biggest bug-bear is the ads that appear in the map and on the search menu.
As a social traffic app, Waze allows you to send your ETA (estimated time of arrival) by Whatsapp, text or email to your contacts. It's compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and integrates with Spotify.
4. HERE WeGo
Initially, HERE WeGo was exclusively launched as the preloaded navigation app on Windows smartphones and was called Nokia Maps. It has since been released to both Apple and Android platforms and been sold to a number of German car manufacturers including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The biggest selling point to use HERE WeGo as your default traffic app is that it works as a full sat nav offline, so you can use it without eating into your data. Although you can use other apps - such as Google Maps - offline, you have to download the maps and they typically only last 30 days.
HERE WeGo has maps for over 150 countries that you can use without an internet connection. You can choose between three different views: Satellite, Traffic and Transport. The latter includes public transport information and you can use it in conjunction with the other views.
Using the offline mapping feature does take up space on your phone, but you don't have to download an entire country - larger countries (e.g. France and Germany) are split into regions and cities. To save space, you can always download the area you're visiting before you travel there and delete it later when you no longer need it.
The layout of the map is very clear and directions are easy to follow at a glance. Also, when you're looking to find a specific house in a postcode, the house numbers are actually visible on the map.
5. Sygic GPS Navigation & Maps
Cost: Free (Basic features) / From £9.49 for a Lifetime license
With over 200 million drivers using Sygic GPS Navigation & Maps, it's the world's most downloaded GPS navigation app. Using maps provided by TomTom, it has the usual turn-by-turn directions which also include voice-spoken street names so you can concentrate on driving.
The entry-level version provides a range of navigational features free-of-charge, including offline maps, points of interest and a parking service. You'll receive several map updates throughout the year and information on speed cameras to ensure you're not picking up fines and always driving at the legal speed.
By downloading the maps to use offline, the app will operate using your phone's GPS signal to navigate, rather than using up your data. The high-quality 3D maps will then be stored on your device.
You can unlock additional features by purchasing one of the three premium versions; although you can try the paid version for seven days when you first download the app. Sygic also offers add-on features to help take your navigation to the next level which you can buy within the app, including a dashcam, real view navigation and a head-up display.
6. INRIX Traffic
Similar to Waze, INRIX Traffic leverages a community of users from a massive crowd-sourced network of over 275 million connected cars and devices from around the world. As well as user-generated content, the app uses free OpenStreetMap (OSM) data for map information.
Using OSM enables INRIX to provide a navigation app with high-quality maps and turn-by-turn directions completely free and without annoying advertisements.
This mobile traffic app is powered by the same world-class technologies that car makers such as Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have integrated into their dashboard infotainment systems.
It automatically adds a user's favourite places, rather than having to be inputted manually, by learning frequent destinations and observing driving habits. With this data, it can personalise routes to avoid the worst traffic and suggest departure times.