Navigation apps have become an integral part of modern driving, and Google Maps is a standard travelling companion for many South Africans.
The app’s helpful features make it very attractive to modern drivers, as they no longer need to buy a dedicated GPS device or pull over to look at maps or printed directions.
However, while using Google Maps to navigate is convenient, it also uses mobile data to retrieve traffic and location information.
You can download map data before driving while you are connected to Wi-Fi, but features like accident notifications, alternate route suggestions, and nearby location information will not work when you use Maps offline.
To find out how much mobile data Google Maps uses, we drove from Midstream Estate in Centurion to Melrose Arch – a trip which usually takes around 30 minutes.
We used an LTE-capable smartphone connected to Vodacom’s network and fired up Google Maps, inputting the destination before we embarked on the trip.
The Google Maps app was maximised and active at all times throughout the trip, and features such as traffic notifications and alternate route suggestions were enabled.
Mobile data usage was then monitored using the MyDataManager app for Android, providing an exact amount of mobile data used for navigation during the drive.
Data usage and cost
The trip lasted a total of 31 minutes and the data usage reflected on MyDataManager stated that Google Maps consumed 5.58MB over the course of the trip.
It must be noted that data usage may not be consistent throughout a trip, however, and the app may use more mobile data when finding a location and calculating the route as opposed to providing updates during the trip.
The test we conducted produced a trip long enough to provide a good indication of the regular data usage of the application, though.
To put this data usage in rand terms, we took the 5.58MB and calculated the cost of its usage based on 1GB prepaid data bundle prices from local network operators.
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