Review: MapFactor GPS Navigator


It's a fair cop - MapFactor GPS Navigator isn't new and is in fact a Windows Phone 8.1 application. But - interestingly - it uses bang up to date OSM (Open Street Map) err.... maps. Which, as I ranted recently, doesn't apply to Windows 10 Maps, which are missing recent roads. So is this worth using instead?

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In short, maybe. It depends how valuable the currency of the road maps are to you, and how valuable you find traffic allowances (or lack thereof). MapFactor GPS Navigator gives you the possibility of bang up to date street maps and competent (if fussy) real time navigation around them - but it doesn't have traffic awareness at all. While Windows 10 Maps has basic traffic avoidance, at least the route planning stage - at the expense of the aforementioned slightly out of date maps.

The pros and cons continue, with MapFactor arguably having the better POI (Points Of Interest) database, plus many map details that never made it to Windows licensed maps - but MapFactor is a Windows Phone 8.1 application and not a full fledged UWP app for Windows 10 and beyond.

Having said all this, there's no question of having to choose where to spend your money, since they're both free - one built-in, one installed from the Store, so there's no reason why you can't have and use both. Yes, it's galling that Google Maps/Navigation trumps all of this and with bells on, but that's another OS for another day - and possibly a feature, along the lines of leveraging Google Maps under Windows 10.

In the meantime, let's take a whistle stop tour of the MapFactor experience. And yes, it's all very WP8.1 in its look and feel, despite updates in the last few years. But the application does work and I tested it on a number of journeys with no issues.


On startup, you're asked to grab the appropriate country offline OSM maps - these are updated monthly by thousands of enthusiasts, so should have new roads in your area.


Next up, pick somewhere to navigate to and you get a planned itinerary, effectively the instructions you'll be receiving as you navigate. Note that you can add waypoints too, it's not a straight A-B thing. (Though you can do waypoints now in Windows 10 Maps, note.)


Tap 'Navigate' and you're then into the driving experience. The maps are a lot more detailed, but also a lot more fussy that those in Windows 10 Maps. Still, they're clear and instructions are timely, with audio that seems less natural and more processed than in Microsoft's Maps application.


The crowd-sourced POI database is first class, here showing the categories and a perfect list of shopping and eating places. Though I do think that shopping and eating out might have deserved their own distinct categories?


While driving, you'll notice 'space invader'-like warnings when you're near a speed camera - this kind of worked, but half the time the sound wasn't played until I was a few metres from the camera, so if I had been speeding (I never do this, honest m'lud) then it would have been too late!


The mapping facilities here include latitude and longitude readout and lookup, which is handy in view of the OSM detail - there's plenty in the map data that's off-road etc.; (right) the 'pro' maps include extra data from TomTom etc., including postcodes, apparently, though I'm wondering whether the deal has now fallen through, since this option was coming up for me as 'not available', and no way to purchase it. Mind you, even the 'Pro' option didn't apparently include real time traffic, so you're not missing that much!

Part Open Street Map browser, part navigation solution, MapFactor sits a little awkwardly in today's Maps marketplaces on all platforms. But it might still find fans and, as I say, you can grab and use this for free, so why not give it a try anyway? And let us know if it is indeed bang up to date - it certainly had the newish roads in my area!

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