Apple Maps vs. Google Maps

“Once upon a time, Google Maps was the go-to maps provider for Apple’s iOS. That was until iOS 6 in 2012, when it was announced that Apple was creating its own rival service – and Apple Maps is now the default option on iPhones and iPads,” Lewis Painter reports for Macworld UK. “In this article we compare the state of these two services, five years on.”

“The days of major gaffes are long behind Apple Maps, and in most respects you will find it as or close to as accurate as Google Map,” Painter reports. “But while road maps seem to be as accurate as Google Maps, there are still a few inaccuracies – mainly with regards to business markers being very slightly in the wrong place (occasionally in the middle of a road instead of on one side, for example). It also got very mildly confused about which part of a town a postcode was in – directions were fine, it simply used a name that is applied to an area a couple of miles down the road. No harm done, really… Indeed, Google does have similar problems on occasion – but less often, in our experience. And it tends to be better at offering useful, up-to-date information up front, such as the date when a public library is scheduled to reopen.”

“The centrepiece in a plethora of features in both Google & Apple Maps, turn-by-turn navigation has negated the need for a traditional (and usually expensive) satnav in many people’s lives. While both are easy to set up and both boast audio prompts for every step of the journey, there are some subtle differences,” Painter reports. “Throughout testing, we expected to find that Google trumped Apple in every category, as it did when we first compared the two in 2012. But this isn’t entirely true: Apple Maps has vastly improved since it was first launched and we now feel the turn-by-turn navigation is better than Google’s offering.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A bad first impression is very difficult to overcome.

31 Comments

    1. Yeah, street view is useful (though far too often hobbled by being years out of date!), but Apple’s 3D flyover is much more useful when, for example, exploring a neighborhood in a new city when traveling. Both apps still have major shortcomings meaning I can never rely wholly on one, but I think that Apple’s thorough approach will win out over Google’s focus on flashy features rather than complete reliability.

      1. I like 3D flyover very much, but it’s only available for larger cities and it’s nowhere near sufficiently detailed to read things like street signs warning of parking restrictions, which is where Google Street View really scores.

        I hink that 3D flyover could become more detailed over time and it does have the potential to eventually displace Street View. Street View has plenty of limitations of it’s own.

        I like the look of Apple Maps and especially how the key information is clearly displayed while driving while the less important stuff is suppressed, but it’s all a matter of taste and I realise that others prefer the look of GoogleMaps.

        1. The only limitation of STREET VIEW is they don’t drive down every alley. It is absolutely awesome tech and Apple is far behind. GM other strength is also the number of businesses in its database. I do agree the graphics on AM navigation are more visually appealing. But I prefer accuracy over window dressing …

  1. I don’t get why in Apple maps
    1) the contrasts are so low that it’s hard to see anything (yellow/light grey???)
    2) so little information is displayed (street names etc)
    3) there is no visible distinction between Autobahns and the next lower category

    1. Yes! My thoughts exactly on all three of your points.

      I hope someone pays attention to these comments and can implement the changes. The ridiculous low-contrast view should’ve been corrected a long, long time ago. It’s as if the map coders have never used their own app in a vehicle during daylight hours.

      1. Considering Apple’s graphics and design experience especially compared to Google’s improving yet still often rudimentary skills in this regard, I do find it weird that this simple aspect was so poorly executed I have to say. That said like certain overblown criticisms of Siri it is interesting to see certain objective accounts putting a different light on affairs. If Apple gets even close to matching Google’s long perfected mapping skills then that is something to celebrate, I only rarely refer to Google maps now and certainly I don’t often notice any real deficiencies on Apples product which puts a lot of the criticism down to inbuilt expectations, preferences and prejudices over any real deficiencies.

        1. I have finally given up on Apple Maps. Johnny Ives destroyed the readability several years ago. They have redone some of the fonts and graphics in the latest version, but it is miles behind any GPS device.

          But that is not even the worst part. Maps refuses to give turn by turn audio. One time is ten it will do so. Does it need to be online to give voice????? It will give me voice as I drive away from my house, then no more.

          Google, on the other hand is consistant, readable, and accurate. I don’t like Google any more than the next guy, but Apple Maps is a joke. I don’t care how may liquor joints it can point out, or ATMs, if it can’t get the travel basics right, what good is it?

    2. Yes. I have the TomTom app from long ago and one simple thing Apple could add is color preferences. The TomTom app has 12 different day colors and 12 different night colors. A preference. How simple could it be to add this???

  2. My biggest complaint is, that these apps aren’t designed really to help YOU, but to guide you to a preferred retailer. So, it’s about advertising and data collection not really about getting you somewhere easily. That’s not their prime motivation and it’s apparent in both apps. Though I appreciate them for what they are and use them both interchangeably based on what I need (e.g. Google maps bike trails, etc.) and where I want to go. I can’t imagine ever going back to using printed maps or an Atlas, though sometimes I feel like getting what I want out of these apps is a struggle and that I should use the old tech for greater efficiency and not feeling like a “piece of meat.”

  3. Google maps has let me down numerous times, and in my own experience, Apple Maps has been far more accurate (despite criticism) than Google.
    Plus, I just don’t trust Google anymore…

    1. My guess is that you are in the US. In Europe Apple Maps does not have updated map date. Quite often an address that is on Google Maps cannot be found on Apple Maps. It’s never the other way around.
      Also, Apple Maps tends to look for main roads to route through while Google Maps looks for the fastest route. So driving a truck or pulling a trailer use Apple Maps. Car or bike, use Google Maps.

  4. No need to comment further on Apple Maps quality here in Warsaw, it sucks, but what gets me are location suggestions (for calendar events for example) that are for places thousands of miles away. It’s as if there’s no connection between my GPS location and the list of places that might have the same or a similar name, but are nowhere near me and totally irrelevant to my event.

    1. “as if there’s no connection between my GPS location and the list of places that might have the same or a similar name, but are nowhere near me and totally irrelevant to my event.”

      Omg! So true! I live in NYC, and Apple Maps will regularly give me locations in a different part of the country, hundreds or thousands of miles away, especially when it thinks something is “XX St” instead of “XX Drive” or some minor difference. Also, when the same address exists in both Manhattan and in Brooklyn, and I’m IN Manhattan 15 minutes away, I probably do NOT want the address in Brooklyn that is 50 minutes away.

      1. Then again, one time Google Maps gave me the following directions (paraphrased):
        9:18pm: Start walking south to .
        9:06pm: Arrive at

        Yep. It told me I should walk so fast I would travel back in time by 12 minutes. 🙂

      2. At least you’re getting results that are in the same continent as you. I’ve written many times about how when I am near my home in the UK and ask for driving directions to a given place, Apple Maps offers me directions to places in the US.

        I keep hoping that Apple Maps might one day be smart enough to guess that I’m more likely to drive to a town less than a hundred miles away and on my island, rather than drive over the ocean to a business using that name which is 5,000 miles away.

  5. Comparing map apps and reaching generalizable conclusions is very difficult. In most cases, the testers are limited by results in the local testing areas. Who can do a county wide, let alone and world wide test using multiple locations and rating each app with predetermined standards of accuracy and objective standards of ease of use?

  6. Apple Maps works great for me, I live in Orange County CA. It may depend where you live.
    I’m also happy not to have Google collect my travel information and sell it to others.

  7. another pissed away opportunity why? are you lacking resource to commit to the product? so much potential to disrupt and take search share left on the table; I would so rather buy your phone because the map worked kick-ass than because you have a new whiz-bang who-cares the-other-one-worked-great sign-on toy

    accuracy is table stakes and both do it fine and its been fine for awhile now so how about you move on to something that can differentiate in a useful, creative commercial way?

    the extremely limited search icon thingys that find me nearby food and fun currently produce a list of um ten things; neat but i can do that on mapquest

    I can favorite things i guess and then select from an untagged cluster of a list found at the very bottom sorted by date added (because that’s how apple think we should look for stuff I guess) – forces me into the competition’s loving arms every time I plan and head out on a trip because I can save and organize

    since they’re part of the whole ecosystem i bought into a decade ago can I slip in a dig on the MacOS Maps app as well; no one wants to navigate and zoom around using that one-off experimental UI – I go straight to maps.google.com at home rather than opening the forgotten Maps app; why not make it tolerable and then put it on the web where it can become my go-to on non-Macs too (duh)

  8. Had a service appointment at the Stealership and opened Apple Maps mostly for the real time traffic info this morning. The “new and improved” Apple Maps titled the location I was driving properly, but tried to route me to another campus of the same dealership- this despite the address being correct on my Calendar appointment info.

    This is the very kind of crap that should not be happening this late into the game with Apple Maps. September 2012 was a long time ago, so the company has had way more than enough time to fix stuff like this and they certainly do not lack for financial or staff resources. My suspicion is that Tim Cook just does not think it’s that big a deal.

    Fish rot from the head.

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