When moving from Android to Windows Phone one of the apps I missed was Google Maps. The default Windows Phone maps has improved vastly over the last few years and Nokia’s HERE maps are very good but the one thing I use Google Maps for on Android is looking at real time traffic data especially when I am looking at the best route home plus I often use Street View.
Google don’t make any apps for Windows Phone apart from a lacklustre search app so if you want to use Google services on a Windows Phone you are going to have to use the browser or a 3rd party app (see my guide to using Google Play Music on Windows Phone).
The browser version of Google Maps works ok on Windows Phone especially on a large screen device like the Lumia 1520 but it’s slow to navigate around and there is no offline support. So for the best experiences you are going to have to use a 3rd party app. The one I have been using is called GMaps+ which is a Windows Phone app that combines data from Windows Phone’s maps and Google maps.
When you install the app you get the option of picking which maps you want to use. You can pick from the offline maps already downloaded onto the phone or tell the app to use HERE maps, Google Earth or Google Maps. If you choose anything other than the downloaded maps you will be using WiFi or 3G/4G to get the map data. Even if you use HERE maps the search results come from Google, as does the traffic data and street view. The traffic information is more detailed than the traffic info from HERE maps as it goes down to local street level and not just the main roads. You can also access Google Stream View from the app something you can’t do from the other Windows Phone maps.
Other features include integration with HERE Drive for offline, turn by turn GPS navigation. There are 3D maps and a compass mode plus there is a voice search and voice commands and you can pin a live tile for quick access to voice commands.
The app is free from the Windows Store (with in-app purchase to remove the ads) and works with Windows Phone 8.1 as well as Windows Phone and even if you use HERE maps is well worth having as an alternative.
This example shows the GMap+ on the left with extra traffic data over HERE Maps on the right:
✓ HERE Drive – Get offline, turn-by-turn voice-guided GPS navigation
✓ 3D maps & 3D compass mode – Explore what’s around you in 3D and use 3D compass mode to find and orient yourself on the map
✓ Live traffic & incidents – See real-time traffic conditions, road info and incident reports
✓ Street Side view & see inside – Tour cities in 360-degree panorama and see inside restaurants, museums and more
✓ Place Search – Find local results with useful info such as ratings, price, distance, opening hours (with open now indicators), and discover the best spots in town with place photos and local reviews
✓ Voice Search & voice commands – Control the app with voice and speak your search queries instead of typing
✓ True offline maps – Download maps for any regions and save on data costs or use them later when you’re not connected to the internet