Here WeGo: The free mapping app that could replace your sat nav

With voice-guided turn-by-turn instructions for over 100 countries, the Here WeGo app is a serious challenger to Google Maps.

Dedicated sat nav devices are dying out in favour of mapping apps for smartphones. Google Maps is probably the most famous example, and understandably so - it's easy to use, the maps are continually updated and it has a great 'real world' feature in Street View.

Here WeGo started life as Nokia Maps and launched exclusively on Windows Phone smartphones. It's since been renamed Here Maps, then Here WeGo, and has been sold to a consortium of German car makers including Audi, BMW and Mercedes. It has also expanded to more mobile platforms.

[Read more: Learn how to create and share Google Maps lists]

Like Google Maps, it's completely free. And also like Google Maps, it boasts enough features to replace your sat nav completely. But there's one key difference, although you can download maps on Google Maps to use offline, the killer feature of Here WeGo is that it works as a full sat nav offline, so you can use it without a data connection. Check out the video above to find out more.

The maps

Here maps interface and menu

Fire up Here WeGo and it displays your current location with a green arrow. Pinch to zoom in to take a closer look and check out points of interest.

You can change the look of the map by tapping the Layers icon in the corner. Choose between three views: Satellite offers a photo view, Transport includes Tube and underground information and Traffic displays real-time traffic information from 40 countries. This is downloaded from the internet, so be careful using this – particularly abroad – or you may rack up a hefty mobile bill.

Here Maps layers

You can use the different layers in combination with each other, so for example you might visit a city such as Barcelona and use maps with Satellite and Transport information.

Getting directions in Here WeGo

Here maps getting directions

Tap the magnifiying glass and set your destination. You can enter a postcode, street address or point of interest.

The app will calculate the route before providing a unified route planner, so it will find the quickest routes for driving, transit and walking. These include estimated arrival time, alternative routes and any delays.

[Read more: 7 tips and tricks for getting more out of Google Maps]

Tap a route to view it. It also shows alternative routes in grey, which are useful if you want to avoid a particular route (because of roads that charge a toll, say). When you are satisfied, hit Start to begin voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation in car or pedestrian modes.

Within the Settings menu you can customise exactly what routes to search for, including setting your home address, what units to measure the journey in and whether to put speed alerts on.

Nokia here

Opt for car navigation and you’ll automatically enter the app's sat nav-style Drive mode. This is also accessible via the main menu.

Drive mode displays your speed, distance and direction, just like a proper sat nav. You can change the look of the map (including day/night view), display landmarks, activate speed alerts, turn live traffic on and even customise the display.

Offline maps

Here maps offline options

What sets Here WeGo apart from Google Maps is that you can download maps for 150 countries and use them offline without an internet connection. This includes transit information for 1,300 cities in 50 countries so you can use it on holiday to find your way around a city.

You can see what’s there by tapping the Menu button and selecting Download Maps. There are maps for Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceana, Europe, North and Central America and South America.

You don’t have to download an entire country map either. Larger countries like Germany and France are split into regions.

Be warned - maps do take up space on your phone. The maps of the UK use nearly 600MB so make sure you’ve got room on your device. To save space, you can always download a region - such as Paris - before a holiday and delete it later.

When you go abroad select Use app offline from the main menu. This means WeGo Here won’t try and establish a data connection, so you can use it without being connected to the internet.

[Read more: How to use Google Maps offline]

We recommend downloading Here WeGo. It’s easy to use and works smoothly. But the real killer app is the extensive offline mapping - it really sets it apart from its rivals. Yes, you can download maps to use offline in Google Maps, but only to cover a small area - not a whole city or country.

Download maps at home over wi-fi and you can use them abroad without worrying about internet connections and high data costs. Whch are the last things you want to think about on holiday.

Price: Free

Available for: iOS, Android


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