Navigation apps used more often for walking, cycling

Wednesday 30 March 2016 | 16:23 CET | Background

Almost three-quarters of Dutch consumers use a navigation app on their phone, up from 55 percent two years ago. While they are mainly used in the car, the apps are increasingly used also for biking and walking, according to a survey by the Telecompaper Consumer Panel in February. 

Google Maps is the most popular navigation app; almost half the respondents said they use the app, up from a third in January 2014. Use of Apple Maps and TomTom has also increased. Over the same period, fewer use a separate navigation device, down from 26 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in the latest survey. Around half of those use a built-in navigation system. Only 9 percent said they never use digital map services for navigation, down from 19 percent two years ago.

Young people use navigation apps more

Young people use navigation apps more often, while older people prefer navigation systems. Among people under 40, 83 percent use navigation apps, versus 68 percent of over-40s. A fifth (21%) of people over 40 use separate navigation systems, compared to just 11 percent of under-40s. Over-65s are also less likely to use digital maps at all, with 21 percent not using any of the navigation apps. 

More HTC smartphone owners use Google Maps

Apple Maps is clearly more popular among iPhone owners; 38 percent of them use the app. However, more iPhone users access Google Maps, at 49 percent. Only 3 percent of consumers with a different brand phone use Apple Maps, most likely on an iPad or a second phone, as the app only works on iOS devices. Google Maps is especially popular among people with HTC and Sony smartphones, while the TomTom app is used more by LG and Nokia owners. The latter are also more likely to use a separate navigation system. Owners of Nokia and Huawei phones more often than average did not use digital maps at all; this is likely due to their older average age.

Apple Maps used more when walking than in 

The survey also looked at the modes of transport used for each of the three most popular navigation apps. Only the TomTom app was found to be used as much in the car as the previous survey. Google Maps is still used most often in the car (74%) but is also used much more when walking (62% versus 41% in 2014) and on the bike (47% versus 22% in 2014). Apple Maps is now used more for walking than in the car, at 76 percent versus 69 percent, and also saw a sharp increase in usage when cycling, at 56 percent compared to 21 percent two years ago. This growth may be explained by the improvements in turn-by-turn spoken navigation offered on the apps.

Smartphone use on bike not illegal

Last year the Dutch government ruled out instituting a ban on smartphone use on bikes, despite 9 percent of cycling accidents involving a phone. Given the strong increase in the use of navigation apps on the bike, the number of accidents may increase further. The survey did not look at whether cyclists use the hands-free option when accessing the apps for cycling. 

This research is based on the Telecompaper Consumer Panel. The survey was conducted in February 2016 (n=1,553) and January 2014 ( n=1,815). Participants were asked which navigation apps they had used in the past half year and with which modes of transport. Panel participants are aged 12-80, and results are stratified for age, education and gender. For more information about research opportunities with the panel, please contact research@telecompaper.com.

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