The Google Maps app is one of the most convenient navigation methods out there. However, Google’s reputation for handling data leaves a lot to be desired. If you’re privacy-conscious, you should try and find Google Maps alternatives ASAP.
“Navigation apps that treat your data with dignity and respect, you say?” Yes. Below, we will go through five Google Maps alternatives you can use to maintain your privacy (and four more if you simply don’t like Google).
The five best Google Maps alternatives for privacy
In short, here are the five best Google Maps alternatives that respect your privacy:
- HERE WeGo
- Apple Maps
It’s important to note that you expose some of your data anytime you use these mapping services. However, these are the most secure options available.
#1 OsmAnd: best for offline navigation
Fully offline maps
Includes hiking maps
Available on Google, Amazon, and Apple
Tracks non-personalized data
OsmAnd is an offline mobile map and navigation tool. Because it works offline, it enables the user to eliminate the need for constant connection. This saves you money on roaming charges and helps establish privacy.
The offline maps data also include information on biking and hiking trails. It provides data on speed and altitude, making it perfect for those who spend time outdoors.
The open-source nature of this app also comes from another well-known product: OpenStreetMap. But there is a premium version containing some optional features.
OsmAnd recognizes the importance of privacy, enabling you to purchase a gift card if you do not want credit card information stored on the app. The data it tracks is also non-personalized, making it more secure than most other apps available.
#2: Discover with HERE WeGo
Provides traffic data in select cities
Enables you to discover places
Compatible with iOS and Android
Deletes timestamps after you use the mobile app
Uses behavioral advertising (you can turn this off)
HERE WeGo is a Google Maps alternative with 35 years of experience in making maps. It covers 200 countries and has 21 million vehicles providing real-time data.
“We do not associate your Location Data or Place Information with your other personal information, such as HERE account, unless you have asked us to do so.”
This puts HERE WeGo on a weaker level than OsmAnd, enabling it to share non-personal data with third-party providers. But its focus on non-personal data is still a step up from Google Maps.
Thankfully, you can download offline maps to step around this to some degree. HERE WeGo is also just generally more robust. It offers easy drag-and-drop customization of routes.
If you know about road closures but still prefer turn-by-turn navigation, HERE WeGo has you covered.
#3: Stay off the data radar with OpenStreetMap
Is an open-source map app using donated data
Doesn’t force you to provide data if you don’t want to
Does not use behavior advertising (because it’s user-supported)
iOS, Android, and Fire apps available through OsmAnd (see above)
Accessible only on a standard web browser
As an open-source mapping project, OpenStreetMap does not rely on providing data to advertisers. Unlike Google Maps, it depends on the generous data donations of its user base.
Much like with torrent files, you aren’t required to contribute to download. Among alternatives to Google Maps, this is likely one of the most user-friendly options out there.
OpenStreetMap’s optional data grabs include GPS Trace Data (optional and made available to the public) and time-stamped map data. You’ll find that your email is exposed due to program limitations, but no additional data is necessary.
You can also request account removal when you want your data off. However, they will non-publicly retain your email address when you make contributions.
#4: Easiest choice if you use iOS – Apple Maps
Doesn’t share your data (Apple doesn’t rely on data-driven ads)
Allows you to download map data offline
Offers simple navigation
Offers weak map features compared to other map tools
Mobile app is exclusive to iOS
“We do not collect personal information associated with your Maps usage, except when you submit information through Ratings & Photos or Report an Issue.”
Among the big three – Apple, Google, and Microsoft (Bing Maps) – that means Apple is the best company with your data. It only collects randomly associated identifiers that are regularly reset, ensuring little chance of tracing.
You can also download maps using Apple, making it on par with Google when it comes to accessibility. However, you’ll still find the features aren’t any better than old-fashioned Google Maps.
#5: Use Navmii for serious navigation
Suited for both personal and commercial use
Great if you want dedicated navigation tools
Provides detailed maps suitable for semi-truck movement or commercial vehicles
Enables developer support through software development kits (SDKs)
App available on Google Play or Apple App Store
“Navmii will not share your contact details with any advertiser, unless explicitly permitted or required by law.”
So while it does collect personal data (not good), it doesn’t share that data with third parties (good).
Navmii is also one of the only navigation apps that provide additional equipment. With connected car integration, you can combine the touch-screen device of your choice into your dashboard.
If you don’t want to do that, you can also download the app for mobile navigation. This will remove the need for a continuous internet connection. It also provides a driver behavior analysis if you fancy your phone commenting on your driving.
With its own unique features, Navmii is a bit more than your other online map tool. It is a web mapping interface that provides commercial and personal support without sharing your data with unwanted sources.
Bonus: Four alternative mapping apps if you simply don’t like Google
If you don’t like any of the navigation tools available above, there are others out there. However, not all of them are great when it comes to internet privacy.
But if you just want to tell Google to stick it, below are four mapping apps that are not Google but still actively track and use your data:
- Bing Maps
- Waze Maps
#1: Bing Maps if you trust Microsoft
Microsoft is one of the “big three” tech companies in the world. While Microsoft is still number two in the search engine game, they have made significant strides over the years to remain competitive with Google.
Bing Maps, one of those strides, is just as bad when it comes to collecting personal data. You can see this by using its search engine, which “socializes” you into using your search engine with a dashboard.
While you can get your maps offline, the Bing Navigation App isn’t great for privacy. Among map apps, stay away from this one unless you want to be hit by programmatic advertising.
#2: Use Waze Maps for UX and convenience
Waze Maps is a bit of a mixed bag. While it doesn’t gather any more data than Google, it isn’t exactly a step up to avoid programmed ads or data collection.
Part of this comes from its section on collecting data for the following reasons:
“…to properly operate the Services, to improve the quality of the Services, to enhance your experience, to create new services and features, including customized services…”
If you want mobile apps that are slightly better than Google, Waze isn’t bad. However, it isn’t the best alternative if you want more security.
#3: Use MapQuest for neat features
MapQuest decided to go with the “good first impressions” route by immediately providing three pop-ups. One of those pop-ups is to access your location, which is already a small red flag but not uncommon for navigation apps.
“… information or other data provided through these products) is at your sole risk.”
While all companies have something excluding them from liability, MapQuest makes no promises to protect your data.
Maps.me is another option that isn’t great when it comes to privacy.
Maps.me clarifies it will gather some general user data about you (first name, last name, etc.). It also provides that data with its business partners.
Thankfully, you can also easily remove your information from the application. But if you don’t want your data shared with governing bodies, avoid Maps.me.
Is MapQuest better than Google Maps?
Even with ads, I could argue that MapQuest is better than Google Maps in terms of privacy (anything is better than Google, so that’s barely a good comparison).
But when it comes to usability, it really comes down to what you want. For example, while Google actively tracks your every step, MapQuest might bombard you with ads and pop-ups.
If you’re concerned about navigation accuracy, there’s hardly anything better than Google due to how popular it is and how much data it collects.
Are any of these apps better than Google Maps?
All Google Map alternatives are arguably better in terms of privacy than Google.
Accuracy and UX-wise, it is hard to compare them, but Waze comes close if not better than Google Maps.
Other apps have more niche uses like Navmii and OsmAnd for offline mapping and customizing your navigation. So, find the one that suits your needs!
Tips when looking for privacy-conscious mapping apps
From the information above, you can see some common reasons why some companies are better than others. Below, we will go through what you need to look for in a privacy-conscious mapping company:
- They only collect non-personalized data and do not collect any of your other information (unless you choose to provide it).
- The company does not force you to provide mapping information but is still supported by others willing to donate data. This shows greater respect for your data.
- The company does not use personalized advertising.
The truth about using map apps
Anytime you use a map application, you expose some bit of your location to the outside world. There is no way around it, so you should be willing to give up some form of data when choosing to use it.
This exposure is doubly true when it comes to online navigation. However, those who participate in offline use maps aren’t 100% secure.
If you are concerned about this information getting into the wrong hands, a physical map might better serve you. You can pick up physical maps at most gas stations.
Can a VPN help to secure my location?
Some VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) offer a GPS spoofing feature that obscures your location from apps and services. Surfshark’s GPS override does just that. However, this feature is only available on Android.
A VPN can also help if you do not create an account and do not provide your location data. By doing these two things, you give yourself the most excellent chance of remaining secure.
Wrap up – prioritize your privacy with a VPN
When it comes to finding alternatives to Google Maps, all companies will claim to be the one. However, most of them will not prioritize your privacy needs, often forgoing it to make more money off of your essential data.
Use any of the five Google Maps alternatives mentioned above if you want to improve your privacy online. On top, we always recommend you use a VPN to be extra cautious!
For that, a VPN is a great place to start. SurfShark enables you to hide your location, ensuring that your chosen Google Maps alternative only receives the information it needs to work.
With a 30-day money-back guaranteeGet Surfshark