When Apple Maps was first released in 2012, fans and critics alike dismissed it as a joke compared to Google Maps. While the service was functional, the directions it provided were often not as accurate as Google’s service. This lead to people avoiding the service altogether for years after its original release.
In the years since, Apple Maps has overcome its initial flaws. Now the service is a solid contender for the crown of mapping apps. The question is, who is the current king of the maps? Should Google start worrying, or does Apple still have a long way to go?
As the word “Apple” in the name implies, Apple Maps only runs on the company’s own devices. You won’t find an Apple Maps website, and the app itself is only available on Apple computers and iOS devices. This is great if you’re an Apple user, but not if you use devices from a variety of manufacturers.
Google Maps is available effectively everywhere. You can visit the website on any computer with a modern web browser, and apps are available for both Android and iOS.
Features and User Interface
Both Google Maps and Apple Maps offer basic mapping, plus the usual features you’d expect from a modern maps app. These include driving directions with turn-by-turn navigation as well as walking and public transit directions.
Google Maps adds on some additional features like parking information and the ability to avoid toll roads and ferries. Apple Maps offers the ability to avoid toll roads and parking detection as well, but it can’t help you avoid ferries, which could hurt your morning commute.
Because Apple Maps is only available on Apple devices, it fits in very well there. Google Maps looks right at home on an Android device, but it feels a little out of place on an iPhone.
Apple Maps has come a long way from the rough days of its launch. It may not have the sheer resources that Google Maps has, but it’s certainly accurate enough for day-to-day navigation.
Google Maps has a significant head start on Apple Maps, plus it is available on many more devices. This means more people use it, and that means more data feeds back to Google. When it comes to accuracy, this is a good thing, as Google can use this data to make its service even more accurate. That comes at a price, which we’ll look at next.
One of the major differences between Google Maps and Apple Maps is how the two companies use your personal data. Google is a company that makes a significant portion of its money from data, both collecting and sharing it. This means when you use Google Maps, the company is collecting and selling data related to how you use the app.
Apple, especially lately, has been vocal about valuing its users’ privacy. It walks the walk as well as talking the talk. Apple Maps is a great example of this, as much of the app’s functionality is available without having to sign into a user account. Most of the data and calculations around navigation and directions exists solely on the device you’re using.
As we’ve seen, both Google Maps and Apple Maps are good at what they do. Which you choose will likely come down to a handful of factors. If you want the most feature-packed service, Google Maps is the choice for you. On the other hand, if you value your privacy over features, Apple Maps is your best bet.
These aren’t the only map apps available. If you’d like to see some more compared, we’ve already taken a look at Google Maps and Waze to see how they stand up to each other.