Turn-by-Turn Navigation Shootout: iPhone 5’s Apple Maps app vs. Android Google Maps vs. GMC navigation system

“A lot has been said about the new Maps application on the iPhone 5 and the latest iPhone operating system,” David Thomas reports for Cars.com. “But the one function drivers covet the most about the app — turn-by-turn directions — worked exceptionally well for nearly two weeks of testing.”

“I tested my iPhone 5 for one full week of regular commutes and errand runs. I also pitted it against a GMC Terrain’s optional navigation system for a trip to an automaker event about 20 miles from my home,” Thomas reports. “Then, on a 15-mile round trip in Chicago, I tested the iPhone against the Google Maps Navigation app on a Samsung Galaxy Note running Android 4.0.”

“The iPhone 5 offers three route choices with every destination, much like Google Maps did on the old iPhone,” Thomas reports. “Plug the iPhone 5 into your car’s USB port, and not only will it use your car’s speakers to read you directions, it will also lower the volume of the stereo regardless if you’re listening to the car stereo or your iPhone-based tunes. This mimics car-based systems to a T. Unfortunately, I tested the Samsung in only one car with USB, and the phone was not compatible with the car’s multimedia system, so I couldn’t test if the Android device has the same level of integration. Voice prompts came from the Samsung’s speaker, and the voice was definitely more robotic-sounding than the iPhone’s.

Thomas reports, “During my tests over a few hundred miles and dozens of destinations, the iPhone 5 missed only one location. It happened to be a cow pasture in the far suburbs. The Terrain missed it, too, but the iPhone put me just 50 feet away from the farm’s highly visible road sign, while the GMC had me ‘arriving’ a half-mile earlier. The Samsung made a mistake, too. It kept getting confused about the location of my office in downtown Chicago. It had me going farther on a one-way street than I needed to go, and when I was feet from the door, it thought we were still blocks away… The iPhone 5 nailed the location… The iPhone’s maps certainly are far from perfect, but the turn-by-turn navigation functions are as good as any I’ve seen.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Nicholas C.” for the heads up.]


  1. “Unfortunately, I tested the Samsung in only one car with USB, and the phone was not compatible with the car’s multimedia system”

    IOW, Apple Maps and the iPhone 5 trounced the Samsung Galaxy Note in that test.

  2. This is my experience as well. It’s better than any other app I’ve used. One thing I really like is that it detects a change in route almost instantly, whereas other apps keep telling you to turn around and go the other way.

    1. I have had that same experience. The detection of a change in route is almost instantaneous followed quickly by an alternate route. I also find that the positioning is much more accurate that Google Maps. This is of course purely subjective but on several walks, I have found that Apple’s mapping software is much better at showing where I am than Google’s offering.

      1. Just don’t let your phone sleep. Due to an issue in a late iOS 5 release and ever since the app shuts down. I can’t tell you how many times I drove right past where I was supposed to be turning only to learn my phone had gone to sleep and then I have to wait for the app to load Ns recalculate the route. No I have had it with motion x drive. Until they fix it I am not using that anymore. I don’t care I’d it’s accurate to a grain of sand. If the app doesn’t stay up and running it doesn’t do much good.

    1. I like MotionX GPS as well. It has a new feature I really appreciate – a speed limit indicator that shows you the current limit and warns you when you get close to it, and let’s you know when you go over.

      But Apple’s product has a much much clearer display.

  3. Considering the iPhone 5 nav is powered by Tom Tom who has been in the business longer then almost anyone there really shouldn’t be any downside to the iPhone navigation.

    1. To me, that’s the only downside. I had a TomTom GPS, and I liked it better than my wife’s Garmin GPS… until TomTom issued a software update that permanently “bricked” my TomTom GPS, and then told me that, according to their terms of service, that they had no responsibility for what their software update (that I paid extra for) did to the GPS unit that I also paid them for.

      For now, I’ll stick with my Garmin GPS.

  4. I was in Chicago on business and had left my IPhone 5 at the Hotel. Was headed to Rush St. for a few drinks with a client who was touting his Droid. He pulled up directions on his Droid, the quickest route, thru Cabrini Green. I wasn’t paying attention and just before we turned into Cabrini Green I heard gunshots and stopped to check out his Droids route. Another 100 yards on the Droid route and we’d be dead. Thanks Droid!

    1. Yesterday we went fishing at a Lake we have never been to before.

      For the heck of it, we used turn by turn on my iPad using iOS 6 Maps. and my brother in laws 4S with Verizon’s turn by turn maps app.

      both got us there correctly, both got us back correctly using a different route. Both suggested the exact same route, with one exception.. iOS 6 got us to the lake quicker… by having us turn on a private drive (it was a locked gate) instead of driving the extra 40 feet to the actual road to the Boat launch.

      on the way home, the night mode on the 4S Verizon maps.. DID have me jealous. Apple should do that, TomTom does so it shouldn’t be hard.

      1. I am an amateur astronomer and use both my iPhone and iPad with astronomy apps that have “night” or “red” modes. The problem is that when there is an incoming message or phone call, the iOS device leaves the astro app and, with it, night mode. It would really be nice if Apple would put a global night mode into the OS like they do some of the functions for the handicapped.

  5. I would like Apple’s voice navigation to pause Podcast rather than just lowering the volume when making driving announcements. Otherwise I miss what the program is saying. Not important for music, but because Podcasts now have their own program, this should be easy to do.

    1. This is one of the two things I find annoying about the new Podcast app, the other being the tiny controls I have to use while I’m driving.

      With the old iTunes podcast system at least I could use a 3rd-party app that allowed swipe controls of podcast playback.

  6. I’ve been using Apple Maps for about a week and think theturn by turn is better than any dedicated GPS car system I’ve ever seen. The turn by turn navigation is impecable and with the phone placed on the dashboard, the screen pops and registers quickly due to clearly illustrated colorful elements and arrows .

    Apple Maps’ esthetics graphical components and looks are cleaner, sharper and less cluttered therefore easier onthe eyes, than Google Maps.

    Just in this one week of usage, it looks oike Apple has made many fixes and updates to update the lacking data and location services associated input.

    Apple Maps will catch up very fast and surpass Google Maps, which was never really totally reliable, has it’s quirks and is way behind on Apple’s look, feel and esthetics.

  7. The problem is all the so-called analysts, false claims and the Apple haters getting too much attention and believing their lies.

    I call this Mapsgate issue CLOSED!

    1. @Agent Provacateur (hyperbole much?), the whole “government motors” stuff gets old. Why is it so difficult for people–like you–to give Obama the credit he deserves for saving an entire industry?

      By the way, when I use a GPS I only want the info relevant to getting me where I want to go, not a virtual encyclopedia entry.

      1. @ScreenPhiles – because he didn’t save it. He simply spent tens of billions of taxpayer dollars (yes, SPENT – as in, will never be paid back) to manipulate the GM bankruptcy to place the company under the control of the unions rather than let it go through a normal bankruptcy. It wasn’t a “save.” It was a takeover.

      2. Obama didn’t save the US auto industry- he saved Gubmint Motors and Chrysler. Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes, VW, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Subaru all make cars in the US. The difference is our roads are still polluted with Fugly Crapillacs, Crapolets and Fiats.

        The payback is also fiction. GM was split in two and the liabilities taken off of the ‘new’ GMs books. GM was so appreciative of the taxpayer bailout that they promptly built 6 more plants in China.

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