If you have a smart phone, probably one of the primary things you use it for, and can’t imagine giving up is turn-by-turn navigation, usually through Google or Apple Maps. I used google maps since I started driving when I was sixteen, and I relied on it to get nearly everywhere, as my understanding of local geography was rather poor. Now that I’m living in Tennessee, my knowledge of local geography is improving, but no one can know every back alley and mountain peak in this great state, so I still used Google Maps.
Fast forward six years and now I drive to a place I have never been before almost every day, and for the past few months Organic Maps has helped me get there. Organic Maps is a reliable, easy-to-use, and privacy-respecting turn-by-turn navigation app.
Features You Will (Not) Miss
A.K.A. The Constant Monitoring of Your Location
Real-time traffic data is gone, but this isn’t as big of a deal as you might think it is. Just avoid the Interstate (or Motorway, as it’s known internationally and inside of Organic Maps) at rush hour, or take the first exit off it if you get stuck, and you’ll be fine. Unless you often make big trips with a tight schedule, this ‘feature’ will not much be missed, especially for those who know that real-time traffic comes from a constant monitoring of every driver’s cell phone through the respective apps, even when you are not using them. Perhaps if there were a way to add predicted traffic into Organic Maps. I think that would be a privacy respecting compromise.
Features You Will Actually Miss
Incomplete Map Data
No map is perfectly complete. Organic Maps’ Map data comes from Open Street Maps data, which is leaps and bounds more detailed than Google or Apple in some areas, especially for walking, it still may be incomplete in other respects. For example, where I live now in East Tennessee, very few house numbers are on the OSM database. So, while the map may have Kingston Pike, it may not have 7777 Kingston Pike. Other areas may not have this issue, but every area may have missing or outdated data. I recommend making sure of your destination before you get in your car and start plugging in addresses, and the same could be said for any app.
Open Street Maps is really easy to add to, just go to their website, zoom into the area you want to edit or search it up, and click the edit button. If you want a more advanced editor, I recommend Java Open Street Maps
Lack of Variance in Routes
The Latest Versions of Google and Apple Maps will give you options for things like the most fuel efficient route or the shortest route as well as the fastest route for driving, which is a feature I quite enjoy. Organic Maps will only give you the fastest route, though this may change in the future. You can select it to avoid things like Toll Roads and Interstate Highways. Also I have noticed for walking and cycling trip planning, Organic Maps will take safer routes for each, avoiding winding roads for cyclists and large roads for pedestrians at the expense of travel distance. As a person with legs, and who knows how to use them, I appreciate this.
Improvements and New Features
From the organic horse’s mouth:
Organic Maps is the ultimate companion app for travelers, tourists, hikers, and cyclists:
- Detailed offline maps with places that don’t exist on other maps, thanks to OpenStreetMap
- Cycling routes, hiking trails, and walking paths
- Contour lines, elevation profiles, peaks, and slopes
- Turn-by-turn walking, cycling, and car navigation with voice guidance
- Fast offline search on the map
- Bookmarks export and import in KML/KMZ formats (GPX is planned)
- Dark Mode to protect your eyes
- Countries and regions don’t take a lot of space
- Free and open-source
Organic Maps is pure and organic, made with love:
- Respects your privacy
- Saves your battery
- No unexpected mobile data charges
Organic Maps app is free from trackers and other bad stuff:
- No ads
- No tracking
- No data collection
- No phoning home
- No annoying registration
- No mandatory tutorials
- No noisy email spam
- No push notifications
- No crapware
- –No pesticides– Purely organic!
Go Try It!
Install it from the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, or F-Droid and download your area. There is also a Linux Desktop Version available.