Review: Magic Earth (iOS App)

5 stars
Best OpenStreetMap Navigation App for iOS

I prefer OpenStreetMap, the open map data, to commercial offerings such as Google or (yikes!) Apple Maps - because of its open spirit, because anyone can contribute and improve the map, because you don’t get tracked about your every move and also simply because in many places in Europe OpenStreetMap these days has actually better, more accurate data.

However, OpenStreetMap is just a database - they provide a website to browse the map (, but no navigation apps or other tools when you are on the go. However, OpenStreetMap doesn’t need to, because – as the data is freely available – everyone can build navigation apps on top of the data source.

This is where Magic Earth comes into play: It uses OpenStreetMap data and I use their iPhone app almost daily:

  • It provides frequent map updates: OpenStreetMap receives updates from contributors every second, but it will take a while for that to feed into your favorite navigation app, with Magic Earth providing sufficiently frequent updates in my opinion.

  • It provides offline maps for free: you can download as many maps as you like (and you have storage space for) to your device, meaning you can use them offline when there is no cellphone reception, you are roaming abroad or you just want to save on bandwidth. And, contrary to some other offline maps, it also supports searching for addresses or points-of-interests (POI) while you are offline.

  • It provides beautiful maps (3D views etc.) and a useful selection of POIs (restaurants etc.) which makes it easy to find your way around even if you’re not using the navigation mode.

  • It implements a very good routing algorithm, providing different choices of shortest, fastest etc. routes and can take into account traffic conditions in many regions of the world.

  • It’s navigation mode provides very clear indications and also supports lane indications (if the lanes have been mapped in OpenStreetMap, which unfortunately is not yet the case everywhere but is improving) and max speed warnings.

  • It is free.

For me, Magic Earth is the best navigation app on iOS, beating competitors such as (which I also like), primarily due to its superior navigation features, POI (points-of-interest) selection and just general usability. The latter, of course, is very subjective and your tastes may vary – but since Magic Earth is free, you might just as well give it a try and delete it again if you don’t like it!