Chinese Navigation Apps

There is a clear trend among Chinese users when it comes to navigation apps – Chinese applications are highly preferred. We have compared several Chinese navigation apps with non-Chinese navigation apps and found out several outstanding features. We will therefore give a China-specific-feature overview and relevant culture background explanations.

Route recommendations:

Several route options offer the possibility to choose an individual route:

  • Driving time – All displayed with accurate driving time, instead of +/- 10 minutes
  • Driving distance – All displayed with accurate driving time, instead of +/- 10 minutes
  • Number of traffic lights on the route – Not everyone follows the traffic rules in China. Thus when there are traffic lights, there is a higher possibility to meet traffic jam unexpectedly
  • Highway toll fees - It is not uncommon to have highways in the city, usually, it has less traffic jam comparing to city streets

Second, each option has a name, such as “standard route” “quickest route” etc. so that the user can tell the difference immediately.


First, there will always be plenty of POI recommendations, which will be clustered in different categories with sub-categories, for example:

Restaurants with sub-categories: Chinese restaurant, western restaurant, fast food, café etc.

Traffic with sub-categories: Bus station, gas station, parking spots, charging pillars etc.

Also important is, under the recommendations, further information, such as distance, average consume price as well as ratings are also displayed, so that users can make a better decision.

Offline mode

There is not a strong internet signal everywhere, thus it is very important that the apps offer an offline mode. Some user also pay attention to their mobile data consumption and would like to reduce their data usage.

Voice package

Chinese consumers like customized features, so a few apps offer different voice packages, what means, the guidance can be read by different voices – a women, a child, a celebrity or the user’s own voice.

Especially for young users, this feature is always very important.

Regular Update

Every day, there is something new in China. Thus it is important that the map packages get regular updates from time to time.

In addition to all these features, another important character of Chinese navigation apps is the textual explanation beside the icons, because the user ages in China varies a lot and not everyone is familiar with computer icons.

Chinese navigation apps offer a big variety of features that provide an individual use. We are curious about the development of navigation apps and the changing demands of the users.



Author: Yue Liu, Spiegel Institut Mannheim

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