Poor man's GPS: Free MapQuest app adds turn-by-turn voice prompts

The newly updated MapQuest 4 Mobile can now speak to you while you travel, effectively providing free GPS-powered navigation.

It may be rudimentary GPS, but the price is right. MapQuest

Before you spend any money on a GPS app, take note: MapQuest just rolled out a new version of the MapQuest 4 Mobile app that includes, among other updates, turn-by-turn driving directions with voice prompts.

In other words, you can now get GPS-powered navigation absolutely free.

Don't mistake this for Navigon , TomTom , or even MapQuest's own Navigator app --all of which offer a lot more navigation acumen. For one thing, MapQuest 4 Mobile delivers only a top-down view of your map--no 3D, no bird's-eye. What's more, it doesn't announce street names or fetch traffic updates.

Those aren't crucial shortcomings, but I do have a hard time living with this: It doesn't rotate the map relative to your position. Instead, it retains a true-north orientation, moving your position marker across the map as you drive.

Another gripe: The voice volume is way too low, even when cranked to maximum.

Now let's look at the upsides. MapQuest 4 Mobile remains a free app, and the turn-by-turn directions do their job: guide you to your destination. Plus, there's a new off-route assistance feature that will help you get back on track if you take a wrong turn. It's hardly perfect, but it works.

I've always found MapQuest 4 Mobile a bit buggy, and version 1.5.1 is no different; it crashed a couple times during my tests.

On the other hand, it can effectively route you from point A to point B, and the newly added voice prompts let you keep your eyes on the road where they belong. And did I mention it's free?

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