Shootout: Apple Maps vs. Google Maps

“Google Maps (Android, iOS) has been widely regarded as the go-to mapping software. But after a rocky start three years ago, Apple has worked steadily to bring Apple Maps up to speed. Earlier this year at its developer conference, Apple announced that Apple Maps usage on iOS is ‘3.5 times higher than the next leading mapping app,’ and iOS 9 has brought an improved version,” Clifford Colby writes for CNET. “It seemed like a good time to give Apple Maps another go-round to see how it compares with longtime favorite Google Maps.”

“We decided to test the two apps on quintessential autumn errands: a day trip to an apple orchard and pumpkin patch; a walk across the streets of San Francisco in search of a spooky Halloween costume; and a bumpy bus ride back to work,” Colby writes. “We didn’t want to do a tightly controlled mapping experiment: our goal was to take a few everyday trips and see how each mapping app behaved.”

“Over three outings, we found Apple and Google Maps comparable,” Colby writes. “That’s not to say, however, that they are identical. We thought Apple Maps was more visually appealing, especially its 3D map view. And we very much liked how you could view a small map window when in another app. Google Maps, using color-coded roads to indicate traffic conditions, offered more real-time data when driving. By the conclusion of our trips, we thought both maps held their own…”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A very well-balanced review. More of these will help Apple Maps finally overcome its tainted launch.

Plus, one important thing not covered in CNET’s review is that Apple Watch’s Maps integration is unmatched:

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

51 Comments

  1. I want to like Apple Maps. I really do. But I just don’t.

    It doesn’t give me a choice of routes. It doesn’t give me lane guidance.

    Transit directions don’t work where I live.

    The lack bicycling directions completely.

    Visual appeal is subjective.

    1. Add to that the lack of ability to avoid toll roads in routing preferences. I try as much as humanly possible to use Apple Maps, but there are many times i have to fall back on Google Maps..

    1. Street view, so overrated. Street view is a SUSET of flyover. Once in flyover zoom into the area you want then with two fingers on a touch screen (touch pad may be different) tilt the scene until you are at street level. So many Apple features are misunderstood.

      1. I don’t agree with this at all. I was recently in New Orleans. First time there. Having street view to see store fronts and surrounding areas of places I need to go for the first time was much better than flyover. You can’t compare the two. If Apple had something like Street view I would stop using Google maps tomorrow

      2. That is such a tired argument. We understand just fine the limitations of Flyover vs. Street View.

        1) Flyover is only available in a fraction of the world’s cities. It’s still not available in mine.
        2) Flyover street-level view is only good enough for a general look of the area, it’s not detailed enough to read overhead signs on highways, speed limits, or the parking restriction signs for a street. All things I’ve looked at when planning a visit somewhere unfamiliar.
        3) in all likelihood you will be navigating the streets at… wait for it… street level, not from 45° above, so Street View will provide a view that is more familiar once you get to it.

        Street View UI and navigation isn’t that great, but frankly that’s the worst thing I can say about them.

        If there’s anything being overrated by someone here, it’s Flyover. It’s neat to look at and explore a place from a high enough above, but not very useful at maximum zoom.

    2. Streetview is so out of date though. Near here there is a street of shops and Streetview doesn’t show a single currently operating business – including 3 completely new buildings. My guess is that it’s images here must be around 8 years old. What use is that?
      Apple should have Streetview, but 3D satellite view is actually more useful in many circumstances., and Google Maps doesn’t have that.

      1. As Apple Maps data is probably most recent, I suspect the comparison would be better made at the ‘refresh’ rate of each company’s image data. (e.g. time between imaging of the same place).

  2. I try my best to use Apple maps. I do. but living in pdx (that’s Portland, Oregon), there are parts of the city where Apple maps gets lost. to be fair, pdx is a confusing city to navigate (in parts), but that’s the point of using a mapping service. if Siri gets lost, I do too…

  3. I went to Apple Genius Bar for help with Maps. Two geniuses told me to use Google Maps. Unbelievable!

    Doing a search in Safari and clicking on directions does NOT bring up Maps. Using Maps to search for things is 10% successful. They told me to use both. Maps to go to places in my Contacts and Google Maps to go to unfamiliar places.

    Another suggestion by the Geniuses was to buy am aping app/ GPS.

    Apple has lost it’s mojo. That’s how I feel after 2015. TC needs to go. It just don’t work anymore.

      1. One Genius Bar Appt to discuss other issues as well, not just Maps. I did not like the answer from the first Genius and “fired” him because his expertise was not Apple products (ie he did not know you could sync your Photos library to an iPhone via iTunes and he later recommended Google Maps as a replacement for Apple Maps). I asked to see another Genius after that.

        The second Genius who took his place also recommended Google Maps as the best mapping/gps company around and to possibly use both apps because Google Maps does not work with contacts. He also suggested buying an expensive GPS app. Yuk!

        I did not expect them to help me with mapping data, I expected them to help me use Apple Maps because it was not doing what I expected. I wanted to know what I was doing wrong or what was setup wrong.

        Another example, when I first entered the store I was greeted by a woman and I showed her the problem of clicking on “Direction” link after a Google Search. Twice it went to Apple Maps as expected, the third time it did not. At the moment I was surprised it went to Apple Maps because up to that point IT NEVER DID. But the third time it exhibited the PROBLEM OF NOT OPENING APPLE MAPS. For example, when I click on a phone number in Safari it dials the phone. Is it too much to expect a click on an address or a “Directions” link and not go to Apple Maps?

        She said she NEVER saw a Google Search NOT go to Apple Maps. But I have (always) and now I showed her the problem. She recommended I make a Genius appointment.

        Now does that sound fishy or are you and 25 voters just idiots?

          1. That’s what I like. Some helpful comments. However, I just tried and Google Maps does not access my contacts. 🙁

            Do I have to sign in with a Google account? Just tried that. Did not help.

            Does it access Google Contacts or Apple Contacts?

          2. Nevermind. I Googled it. Now I have a great mapping/GPS app called Google Maps. Best search engine, too.

            Hmmmm…. Maybe my next phone will be an Android (can’t believe I said that).

            Come on TC, Fix it!

      2. BTW, you want the date and time and location of the Genius Bar appointment?

        11:20 am Farmington, UT, Saturday, Jan 2, 2016

        The first Genius name is Jace or something short for Jason. The second Genius might be Chris but I don’t recall. A much smarter guy than Jace. The lady at the door, I don’t know her name.

        1. Interesting that you are dissatisfied enough with Apple to suggest that “TC should go”, yet I see you apparently aren’t shy about seeking a lot of face-to-face customer assistance in that Apple Store in Utah. I’m not suggesting you switch to Android/Google/Alphabet, but were you to do that, where are you going to go to get live Genius support?

          1. Let’s put it this way. My wife got her second MacBook and I can’t even tell her how to use Photos app. We both now need to go to Apple Workshops to learn how to use the now broken Photos app. iPhoto worked. Photos does not.

            Another example of Apple losing it.

            I’ve been an Apple fan since 1976. 2015 was a turning point for me. I am tired of things not working anymore and apps becoming less functional and the Mac becoming just as hard to use as a PC. If that was not true, I and my wife would not need to go to Workshops.

            Apple is broke.

            I was in UT for the holidays. Now I am home and the closest Apple store is 65 miles away. And their selection of workshops is dismal. The next Apple store is 3 hrs away.

            So, as far as support is concerned, Android or Apple. Doesn’t matter, does it?

            1. Have to agree, I too am not as happy with Apple since Tim took over and started to place blame on others – a real leader admits he too is to blame. Yes, Apple is losing it. And has all it eyes on what Google does well at — commercialism and collecting data – just Apple chooses to keep that data for what they say is better use. Android has a lot of great advancements that still Apple chooses to do catch-up with. However, unlike hoffbegone – security remains best with Apple and I remain to be an Apple user.

            2. +1

              I never said there was a problem with security on a Mac, I described how Apple approached security on a Mac and it was/is the right way. I am 100% Apple and will probably be always unless Apple really loses it.

              Nothing is impossible. Roman Empire went downhill, America can, too. So can Apple but let’s hope not.

    1. Why so many one stars for this comment? He is right! I go to the Apple Store many times and am told similar things.

      One thing I really detest is when a store employee started telling me about his Android phone while I was trying to buy an iPhone.

      There are a lot of bozos in Apple Store nowadays.

      1. Paul, I call bull shit on your claim of an Apple Store employee telling you about his Android phone while you are trying to buy an iPhone. That is a firing offense in an Apple Store and no employee would take such a risk. Your post reeks of TROLL.

        1. I had TWO GENIUSES tell me to use the Google Maps app instead of Apple Maps. That should be a firing offense.

          Read my story – I “fired” the first Genius for saying that (and the fact he did not know how to sync photos using iTunes).

          He was a Bozo. The second Genius still suggested Google. he should be fired, too, right?

          1. Are you that dense? You don’t have the power to FIRE an employee of Apple. When I say a firing offense, I mean he or she would no longer be working for Apple. Wake UP, BOZO! Apple would no more permit that kind of behavior in their employees than they would sell Android devices in their stores.

            1. No, Swordmaker. YOU are the one who is dense. Hoffbegone is using literary license when he sarcastically states that he “fired” the first genius. In fact, he even put scare quotes around the word “fired” in order to tip you off.

              Since you are so damn literal and cannot understand sarcasm, I will clear it up for you: What he meant when he said that he “fired” the first genius, was that he politely told the first genius that there was a lack of confidence that he had the ability to provide excellent service. So Hoffbegone asked the genius to kindly step aside and to allow a different, more skilled, genius to help him.

            2. No Bryan. I understood completely. I am not dense. I simply do not believe a word of Hoffbegone’s story of Apple employees telling him about their wonderful Android phones when he was in an Apple store to buy an iPhone. That would NOT have happened. Period. Read what he claimed about that. Extolling the competition’s products over Apple’s product when the customer is there to purchase an Apple product is a firing offense for any Apple employee at any Apple store. It is my understanding that Apple supplies their employees with iPhones so that they are familiar with them. The Apple employees would NOT be using Android phones. Hoffbegone is an anti-Apple TROLL.

            3. I can see that happening at a CARRIER’s store. . . because Samsung, for example, pays large bonuses to the clerks there if they can sell a Samsung phone over an iPhone. It would NOT happen at an Apple store. I’ve had it happen at an AT&T store when I made it very plain I wanted an iPhone. The salesperson was very pushy about how much better his experiences were with his Samsung Android Galaxy phone were. I had to tell him to stop selling Android about five times before he went and got the new iPhone.

          2. I suppose it depends on whether or not those Geniuses are tasked with providing the best service/results for the customer’s need even if it means recommending a competing service, in this case Google Maps.

    1. A colleague of mine berated me into using google maps. “It’s so much better” he said and “reroutes you around traffic”.

      That point got me. Thought I would give it a try. So, I tried it one day on a route I vaguely knew taking it once before that week.

      I knew I had to exit. I am very used to turn by turn directions from Apple Maps. I was waiting for Google Maps to tell me to exit. It told me, but too late!!!

      On 3 occurrences if I waited for tbt to tell me to exit, I would have gotten lost.

      I like to keep my eye on the road, not my map.

      I am definitely back to Apple Maps.

      1. “I like to keep my eye on the road, not my map.”

        It has been a treat for me to use Apple maps with my (iPhone and) Apple Watch. The Watch sends a discrete vibration to my wrist for upcoming turns and emits a tone-coded sound to indicate left or right. Instructions are timely. I often navigate by sound. It is discrete, timely, and useful. Even on familiar routes. (Ever miss your exit?…)

        If desired, I can glance at my Watch anytime to quickly note the icon of the next instruction, or “distance” info, or see a short text line of the instruction.

        I understand the Watch also has offers voice instructions, but I have not tried them yet. (I hate my car voice system so much I can’t imagine liking it.. And I am very satisfied with the wrist-commands. But some day I should try it. The wrist commands are timely and discrete, so maybe the voice system is too?

  4. The dutch maps in my home town are up to date in Apple maps. The Google maps shows a lot that has been removed 3 years ago. Google maps provides me now with non-existing routes whereas Apple maps guides me through the newly built tunnel opened a few months ago…

    To each his own but it’s Apple maps for me.

  5. The road I live on was built 3 years ago. It’s in the county’s GIS data. I’ve sent Apple error reports of the missing road until I’m blue in the fingertips. Still no road. I sent Google maps an error report too and within a week it was there. Also, Google maps shows my house in terrain view but Apple maps shows a satellite view from about 4-5 years ago – no house.

  6. I want to like apple maps too because I hate google.

    But Apple Maps has no Transit in broward and palm beach counties and also has no biking directions anywhere.

    Useless for a person who uses a bike or mass transit.

    And the lack of street view is an embarrassment.

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