The best navigation apps for gig drivers

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Rideshare and delivery drivers depend on navigation apps to accurately and efficiently get where they need to be. An app that glitches or neglects to alert drivers about traffic jams and construction delays can cost time and money. 

In this post, we provide an overview of the most popular navigation apps. We also rate them according to how well they support gig drivers. Here’s what we outline:

  • The bare necessities of navigation systems
  • The Big Four: Google Maps, Uber Navigation, Waze and Apple Maps
  • How to sync external navigation apps

The bare necessities of navigation systems

The many features of navigation apps can provide convenience and a sense of simplicity, but the two essentials for rideshare and delivery drivers are accuracy and reliability. If you’re unsure about where to go to pick up a passenger or where to drop off a delivery, you can’t afford to waste time with a GPS that doesn’t know the best and most efficient routes. 

For instance, if your navigation app gives you driving directions that send you to the back alley instead of the front door, or to First Avenue instead of First Street, you could face a lost ride or delayed delivery. To do your job well, you need accurate and reliable turn-by-turn instructions to depend on. 

A good navigation app should constantly provide you with directions, no matter what happens to your signal. Whether you’re in a congested urban environment or out in a rural location, you need an app that can reliably keep your route straight.

These are the bare necessities for any decent navigation app, so you might be surprised to discover that not all of them deliver. Keep these requirements (and your individual needs) in mind as you consider the best navigation app for you.

The Big Four 

There are four major navigation apps that rideshare and delivery drivers use. While Uber has its own navigation system called Uber Navigation, Lyft’s navigation app uses one of the most familiar and widely used navigation systems, Google Maps. Waze is also part of the Big Four listed here but has a separate identity from Google Maps after being purchased by Google in 2013. Another common app that drivers use is Apple Maps, but this is only available to Apple iPhone users.

These apps have an array of features that can also apply to personal driving and other ways of getting around, such as walking and public transportation. Here, we will focus on the apps and their utility for rideshare and delivery driving.

Now, let’s breakdown each app so you can decide which navigation app works best for you.

Google Maps

Google Maps is the most trusted and widely used navigation app in the world. It’s built into many driving platforms and has a variety of features that help drivers find their way around. 

Why you’ll like it: 

  • As the gold standard in navigation, Google Maps has everything rideshare and delivery drivers need. It’s comprehensive and provides turn-by-turn directions. 
  • The standout feature for Google Maps is that it provides directions for drivers on which lane they should be in when they exit a highway. Other apps may not have this feature, leaving you to guess when it comes to making quick exits from overcrowded freeways and parkways.
  • You can also use the “My Location Now” feature to see where you are on the map. To get to your exact location, tap the arrow in the lower right corner of the Google Maps screen, and the map will hover to your location.
  • Google Maps also allows you to download maps so you can use them offline. This feature could keep you from getting lost the next time you retrieve hikers from a remote trailhead with no cell service.

The downside: 

  • There are ads. Despite its high-tech demeanor, Google is, in essence, an advertising company. It should be no surprise that ads are placed throughout the app and can potentially distract you from getting a good view of where you’re going.

The images below show you the best and less favorable features of Google Maps. The first screenshot is the standard view, while the screenshot on the bottom is Google Maps street view, which gives a more detailed depiction of the streets and what structures are on them. You can also see the icons that reveal an array of local Google Maps advertisers when tapped on the screen. So, despite the cluttered screen, it’s hard to complain about the comprehensive features and reliability.

Uber Navigation

Uber Navigation is a built-in feature for Uber and Uber Eats drivers. Not previously known for its slick appearance or its reliability, Uber has recently instituted some upgrades.

Why you’ll like it:

  • Working with Uber Navigation makes driving and navigation seamless. You don’t have to worry about switching back and forth from your driving app to an external navigation app.
  • Recently, Uber Navigation has upgraded its maps and graphics to make it easier for drivers to see exactly where they’re going.
  • For passenger pickups, you can now see which side of the street passengers will be on. This update might not sound like it would have an impact on drivers, but in congested areas, this feature can be extremely helpful. For instance, there may be more details regarding the pickup spot, such as the name of a business, rather than just a street address.
  • Drivers can choose up to three different routes to get to each destination, depending on their preferences. These options could allow you to avoid tolls, construction areas, and roads that can be difficult to drive on.
  • Uber has also improved its navigation app to incorporate traffic conditions into its calculations of the best routes to take.
  • Plus… at least for now, there are no ads on the map.

The downside: 

  • You can only use Uber Nav while driving for Uber or Uber Eats. If you multi-app, switching from one navigation app to another can be an adjustment you might not want to deal with.
  • As the image below shows, Uber Navigation’s look is still far from sexy and lacks the detail shown on other apps. This particular shot shows the option to take alternate routes. While some might find this useful, drivers in a hurry want to know one thing: what is the fastest route?

Waze

This funky, yet functional, navigation app is popular for a few reasons. Waze was acquired by Google in 2013, giving it superior reliability and formidable mapping power. However, it’s remained a stand-alone navigation app due to its unique nature.

Why you’ll like it:

  • The Waze app’s information is crowd-sourced, so you get current data from other drivers about traffic, road hazards, and where police have been seen.
  • Waze has the same features as Google Maps, including the ability to save directions offline.
  • You can customize the navigation voice to a variety of accents and characters. The most recent is Master Chief from the Halo universe. (You can also mute the nav voice if need be).
  • Waze interfaces with most major driving and delivery platforms. You can change your settings to make sure it’s active on your app.
  • The Waze map is clear and easy to follow, as you can see in the image here:
  • Waze directions will provide you with the best route to avoid traffic problems and weather-related hazards. It offers three different routes, if available, which you can view with one tap of the screen.
  • You can integrate your music, podcast, and audiobooks apps with ease. You can even set it to pause the sound when you’re using audio for Waze directions.

The downside:

  • The screen can get cluttered with icons like your music app, reports, notices about railroad crossings, and alerts about vehicles stopped on the road. 
  • There are ads, TONS of them. Worse, they pop up at the top of the screen, right where the directional arrows and street names appear.
  • Waze takes up a lot of battery, and a big chunk out of your data allotment. If you keep your phone on a charger, you’ll solve the first issue, but unless you have an unlimited data plan, you might have some problems utilizing Waze.

Apple Maps

Like all things Apple, the design is slick and it works without a glitch… most of the time. It is reliable and uses traffic information from Tom Tom, which is a long-established navigation company. If you use an iPhone, you have Apple Maps included as one of your phone’s default apps.

Why you’ll like it:

  • Apple Maps is integrated with Siri. When you’re truly lost, just ask Siri to take you to an address or point of interest. Apple Maps will open and guide you there.
  • Apple Maps street view is easy on the eye. It’s hard to see any flaws in the appearance of Apple Maps, as you can see in this screenshot below:

The downside:

  • Apple Maps is not always reliable, especially when it comes to finding the fastest route between Points A and B.
  • Apple Maps is available only to iPhone users.
  • Apple Maps does not integrate with major driving apps. Meaning, that if you use it, you’ll have to work in tandem with the driving app while you navigate to your pickup point or destination.

How to sync external navigation apps

Once you choose the navigation app that works best for you, it’s easy to arrange it so your gig driving app will automatically transition to the external navigation app while you’re working. You will need to check within your app to see if there are instructions specific to your platform, but for the most part, here’s how it works:

  1. Open your driving or delivery app.
  2. Go to App settings
  3. Tap “Navigation”

Here you will see your options. Your app will permit you to select its proprietary app (Uber Navigation or Lyft), Google Maps, Waze or Apple Maps (for iPhone users). 

Select the app of your choice, and if you can, tap on the option that allows it to automatically go to your favorite navigation app as soon as you accept a ride or delivery request. 

Now, you can drive using the navigation app that works best for you!

Gridwise: Your go-to app for tracking earnings, driving insights and more

All the best navigation apps will get you where you’re going, but Gridwise lets you make more money along the way. 

Optimize your driving strategy with information about passenger volume at airports and local events, weather and traffic alerts, and the ability to track your earnings and expenses. With a few taps, a snapshot of your gig life will appear on this slick, easy-to-read screen:

Watch your business grow with in-app perks, offered exclusively to Gridwise drivers. 

Want to make better decisions about your driving strategy? Start earning up to 39% more with Gridwise. Download the app today!

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