This Android app offers navigation capabilities without GPS for extended battery life

GPS navigation has rendered plain paper maps nearly obsolete, but on smartphones battery life is always a problem, and GPS certainly shows no mercy towards it.

Luckily, someone decided to use all those low-power sensors smartphones are using to measure various types of movement and create an alternative navigation solution that’s GPS-free so to speak.

Smart Navi is a truly smart navigation app part of Google’s Android Experiments project. It uses your phone’s internal sensors to provide you with navigation instructions and since GPS isn’t involved you can save up to 80% battery life if you choose to use it instead. It’s true, this only works for walking, since it uses the length of your step to generate the navigation instructions, but it does the job well in most cases.

We’re going to detail below how Smart Navi works, and how you can use it. It’s free so you can download it from the link below (or simple search for its name in the Play Store) and give it a try yourself.

Install Smart Navi (Google Play)

Despite of all the science behind Smart Navi, the app is actually very easy to use. At first run, it will take you through a simple step-by-step setup process. You’ll have to enter your height since the app uses this information to measure your step length and give you walking directions. Hit the ‘Start’ button so you can begin using the app.

The app will pinpoint your current location using GPS when you open it, but that’s the only time it will use it. From then on, it will use map data and your step length to help you walk to your destination.

Like in any other navigation app, you can search for a location and Smart Navi will generate the navigation instructions. The internal sensors of a smartphone can measure movement very accurately, so you’ll be surprised by how well Smart Navi works.

Even if you prefer a traditional GPS-based navigation app as your daily driver, you have to admit Smart Navi can save you the hassle of wondering cluelessly on unknown streets when your phone doesn’t have enough juice to last long enough otherwise. Just be aware – it is currently unable to run in the background, so keep it on the screen while using it.

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