Of course, you remember Apple Maps vs. Google Maps. It was all the rage back in the day, back when Apple decided it did not want Google to control the future of iPhone and decided to grow its own Maps app.
Well, that’s not quite right. Apple’s Maps– back when it was Google inside– was an Apple app, so the company had some experience already, just not enough accurate data. So, Apple rolled its own Maps and the rest is history.
For years technologists laughed at Apple’s feeble attempts at competing with Google’s superior Maps app, but that didn’t stop iPhone and iPad customers from switching. Apple Maps is the most used maps app on iOS and iPadOS.
OK, the real problem with comparing various maps apps, and they all do their mapping thing a bit differently, is what everyone wants to know. “Which maps app is the best?” The answer, as always, is, “It depends.”
It depends upon where you are, where you’re going, and what features you need along the way.
Andrew J. Hawkins explains Apple’s recent Maps app upgrade is a slow roll.
Some of the new features are on par with what Google Maps offers, while others still lag behind. For example, Apple Maps offers detailed transit directions in just 10 major cities now and 17 countries, which, while incredibly useful, pales in comparison to Google, which has transit directions in thousands of cities and towns around the world.
What’s the problem? Google is better, right?
Not so fast. As they say, the Devil is in the details. Apple’s 10 cities have wonderfully accurate transit data. Google’s thousands of cities are lacking. Small is beautiful. Less is more. But more is not always better. There is just no way Google’s thousands of cities compete in detail and accuracy with a dozen or so.
Apple has been on a roll in recent years and the latest version is slowly rolling out across the land. There is much to like.
The new Apple Maps just looks way better. The first thing you notice is the greenery. The previously drab beige appearance has been replaced with a map that is more topographically and ecologically accurate. Buildings have more depth and detail, and the images in the Look Around feature are crisp, high resolution, and look way more true to life.
The problem with comparing Maps apps is how difficult it is to go into the details, which is why comparisons are mostly about features; not whether a location is accurately represented on the map.
Too many details. The very fact that we have a maps app, or, three– I use Waze mostly, Google Maps seldom, Apple Maps, too– should be likened as much to magic as technology. Think about what you’re getting for free.
Of course, if Apple wants to persuade users to switch from Google or Waze, all it needs to do is pick up the pace and finish mapping the rest of the world. Then we’ll have a real maps battle on our hands.
I’m less interested in a feature-for-feature battle than I am in accurate information. Everywhere I’ve traveled– Midwest, West Coast, South, East Coast, and half of Western Europe– over the past 10 years has been met with maps errors. Google Maps and Waze, too.
Trust. But verify.