How to Find Map Updates for Your Portable GPS Device

The portable in-car GPS device is one of the best selling tech gadgets from the last decade, but in recent years has faced fierce rivals and competition with the new arrival of smartphone navigation and on-phone applications that also offer turn by turn GPS navigation directions.

Many different phone manufacturers will promise you free navigation, but do in fact fail to say that data roaming fees can actually add meaning that smartphone GPS navigation is not ever really truly free.  Because of that, the GPS companies are starting to bite back with brands like Garmin and TomTom both now offering free GPS map updates – and they also both sell iPhone navigation apps – so you can see that they are looking to try and corner more sections of the market.

Free GPS map update downloads are always available, but will often depend on for how long you have actually owned the unit and which device you bought.  If you want to update your in-car GPS with new versions of the map software then here’s a brief guide to the different options available for the different brands.

TomTom Map Updates

TomTom will let you download map updates for free via their TomTom Map Share Technology.  This allows TomTom owners to upload their own map changes to a online website tool – however, TomTom will never actually guarantee the accuracy of these map updates which is a shame.  Should you want to get official TomTom upgrades then you will need to go and register the product with them and then connect your GPS up to the TomTom Home site where you can check out all the currently available options.

Personally I would not recommend downloading map updates that have been developed by TomTom customers as they are never going to be as accurate as the official versions – which of course do come with an attached cost.

Garmin Map Updates

Garmin are now offering three different download choices: nuMaps Guarantee, nuMaps Onetime, and nuMaps Lifetime.  The Guarantee option is a free software version – but is only for owners that are in the first 90 days of ownership of their Garmin Nuvi GPS.

Should you wish to purchase new maps then the Onetime update costs $50 Dollars, with Lifetime map updates being more expensive at just under $80 Dollars.  Garmin maps are developed by the Navteq Company who are renowned as being the World leader in digital map development so always comes highly recommended.

Navigon Map Updates

Navigon are a German company who also sell a lot of portable GPS units in North America.  They run a service called Fresh Maps but it’s not possible to download a free version.  Instead the customer has to purchase online with prices starting at around $120 US Dollars for the latest version.  Navigon have recently been purchased by Garmin though so it remains to be seen how long you will be able to update their GPS devices with maps – it will be interesting to see how this develops.

More Information on GPS Map Upgrades

For a full list of other manufacturers and more information on the different options available, please visit the independent advice website at www.gpsbites.com.   It contains full listings on all brands and models and lets the customer choose their GPS model and find out how to update with the latest software install.

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2 Responses to How to Find Map Updates for Your Portable GPS Device

  1. Lancashiregreybeard says:

    Map updates are very useful if the update is current or even recent. Garmin have a facility to report map errors. It scores about 1/10, reports are not acknowledged, major changes have not been corrected two years later and the speed limit indications are a joke.
    Is my experience unique? Does it just apply to the Uk? Are other GPS makers any better?

    • Sadly you are not alone, I also had a lot of issues with out of date maps and sometimes inefficient navigation. However, recently GPS manufacturers/programmers have improved the quality of their softwares (could be because handheld devices are becoming more and more powerful thus being able to process more information at twice or more the speed it has in the past).

      In short, it does only apply to UK but keep you eyes open because GPS navigation and their maps ARE getting better at an exponential rate

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