Google Maps vs Apple Maps comparison

Google Maps vs Apple Maps comparison
Google Maps for iOS is finally here! You can grab it for free on the App Store right now and end the struggle with Apple Maps, and good news is that the new Google Maps application comes with turn-by-turn navigation, and a completely reworked design.

It’s been months since Apple released iOS 6 killing Google Maps in favor of its own Apple Maps. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s official explanation was that the company wanted to add things like turn-by-turn navigation, voice integration and flyover, but while those are worthy reasons it seems like Apple just did not have good enough data for the back end. Google in contrast has spent tons of money and has a huge team working on Maps for years, and it is hard to expect Apple to work out miracles in the short time they’ve had.

Interface and design

But it is not just the back-end (we’ll speak more on this later), let’s start with the design of the brand new Google Maps for iOS. The application has been completely remade with a clean, gesture-based, intuitive interface. No useless buttons, almost all of the screen estate is used by Google Maps.

A swipe from right to the left in the bottom part of the screen, or just a two-finger swipe to the left brings up four toggles. There you can switch between maps and satellite view, turn on or off traffic and public transit indications.

When you select a particular place a swipe up from the bottom brings up the address along with contacts and user reviews, all very elegant, very intuitive and simple.

Compare this with Apple Maps, and its interface with no gesture support seems outdated (however still functional).

The maps themselves are vector-based in both Google’s and Apple’s case, and load very quickly. Google however seems to have managed to somehow optimize its app so it seems like the new Maps load even quicker than Apple Maps.

Overall, interface is a clear win for Google Maps, which shows us how Google is now more often leading the way in terms of mobile software design while Apple has to catch up.

      • Google Maps 1 vs 0 Apple Maps


Search, points of interest

What’s more important, though is search, and there Google Maps fares noticeably better than Apple Maps. Trying to lookup one of our favorite lunch spots in New York, we typed in ‘Silo cafe’ in both maps applications. Google Maps identified it and pointed us to the place without a hitch. Apple Maps? Could not even find it.

The place is on Apple Maps, though, so what happened? Two important things. First, you just have to be way more specific - Apple’s search algorithms work differently. We managed to find it only after changing the search query to ‘Silo, NY.’

Interestingly enough, search on Apple Maps is also much more context dependent. While in Google Maps you can be looking at a map of, say, Berlin (the one in Germany, not on the South Pole!) and out of the blue search for your favorite NYC lunch place, you’d get results. Apple’s app works differently.

If you are viewing that same map of Berlin on Apple Maps, the search just won’t find that New York lunch spot. However, if you are viewing a map of New York on Apple Maps, and then look up that same NY cafe, it would actually show up.

And then come less known points of interest, and challenges like locations outside the United States. We tried looking up a popular restaurant chain in Europe and Google was spot on bringing us all of the restaurants in a particular city. Apple? Could not find a single one.

The more we searched for things, the more it became apparent what a huge gap there is between Google and Apple when it comes to actual places.

Even when it does find places, Apple Maps needs more context in searches, but most often it just would not find them. All of this is a huge frustrating for users, and that’s why searching is definitely an area we see Google as a clear winner.

  • Google Maps 1 vs 0 Apple Maps


User reviews

Getting your search results isn’t always enough, though. Sometimes you lookup a place, but you still need to get a second opinion. User reviews could tell you things pictures won’t, and with Apple Maps integrating Yelp reviews, Google has a hard time competing with Apple Maps in the United States.

The accent here is on United States. Yelp is simply a great platform for the U.S., and in most cases it gives you a better user review of a place than Google Maps user comments can. However, you still need to download the Yelp app to be able to read the full reviews, and that somewhat breaks the integrity of the experience. Google Maps on the other hand has everything in one place, but everything means less opinions and less insightful opinions.

Outside the U.S., though, Yelp becomes largely irrelevant. Things change drastically in Google’s favor. If you happen to travel a lot, you’d be much better off with Google Maps’ user reviews.

Ultimately, we feel this one is a draw. Apple Maps integration with Yelp makes it the better platform for the United States, but for all other places on our beautiful planet Google is far ahead.

  • Google Maps 0.5 vs 0.5 Apple Maps


Directions and Navigation

When it comes to navigation, voice guidance is the raison d’etre for Apple Maps. With the new Google Maps application this justification for the existence Apple Maps becomes obsolete as the search giant has built in turn-by-turn voice navigation in its app as well.

Voice driving navigation works flawlessly on both apps, you get directions even if you lock your phone or exit the app in both Apple and Google Maps.

Directions differ slightly in the interface, but both apps do a decent job at them. However, the backend of more accurate maps and tons of more points of interest on Google definitely puts it in a much more favorable position.

Not just that, Apple’s solution does not have public transit information. Ironically, when you tap on the public transit option in Apple Maps it suggests you to open Google Maps for that. 

Cycling directions are missing on both apps.

If we try to overlook that, though, it’d be a draw.

Google Maps 1 vs 0 Apple Maps

Other features

Those four things round up what we think is essential to a maps application. However both Google and Apple have not stopped there and are adding more information to make the experience better.

First, Apple Maps. The company takes pride in its Flyover feature and we love it. It shows a 3D-like (isometric) view of major cities, as if you are looking at them from a helicopter up in the sky. You can fly around buildings, take a look from all sides, and it looks gorgeous. On the downside, the feature is only available for only the central areas of a few large cities like New York. Siri integration is also a benefit you get with using Apple Maps.

Google Maps lacks those particular features, but it brings its famous street view which seems far more useful. Street View is available in a ton of locations across the globe, and in some areas you even get inside view of restaurants and other points of interest. You also have the indoor view for around 100,000 businesses, which is an awesome addition in case you want to actually look inside say a restaurant before you go there.

When it comes to offline maps, they are a no-go on Google Maps, but once you select a route, it is pre-cached so you needn't worry about your connection dropping halfway.

  • Google Maps 0.5 vs 0.5 Apple Maps


Conclusion

With a brilliant gesture-based interface, no distracting ads, full on public transit information that Apple Maps lacks, and voice turn-by-turn guidance, Google Maps is the best maps application we have seen up to date, hands down.

Compared to Apple Maps, it is a no brainer - Google Maps is better in virtually every aspect, especially looking from a global perspective. If you live in the United States, though, the disparity between the two narrows. It is still there, but with Yelp reviews integration, better documented locations, Flyover for many cities, the U.S. is one place where Apple Maps could be used.

Weirdly enough, we like Google Maps for iPhone more than Google’s own Android Maps application.

It is not perfect though. It does not have full offline maps support, an area that Nokia still claims its own on Windows Phone. It is also not designed to work with the iPad. We really hope Google changes the latter soon.

If you own an iPhone, though, you should definitely take a look at Google Maps. This could one day save your life, you know.




Final Score:

  • Google Maps 4 vs 1 Apple Maps

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72 Comments

71. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

What about Nokia maps or Here maps ??

69. good2great

Posts: 1042; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

The major part of why people hated the iPhone is now irrelevant thanks to Google for solving this problem... It's now cool to have an iPhone again. What if apple did this on purpose to force google to create an updated google maps in the first place? HMMMMM????

65. Robert235

Posts: 70; Member since: May 30, 2010

google map-takes you to destination,3D view of street and transit info. Apple maps-sends you to the abyss,put landmarks in the wrong location and might charge you "IF" you get to your destination.

61. ajerseyjr

Posts: 10; Member since: Sep 10, 2012

Why the google maps in Ios is much more better looking than in android?

53. darkkjedii

Posts: 31798; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

All galaxy note 2 owners? Can any of you guys tell me if you can group pictures into individual folders in the gallery for instance if I wanted a picture folder with only pictures of my mother could I do that on the galaxy note2

47. jsdechavez

Posts: 818; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

Factor in offline navigation, Nokia (Here) Maps wins.

74. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

This is another knock against Apple maps. Google Maps has it, I dont know if it does for the iOS version tho. It might be a smaller area than what Nokia does, dont really know. I just did it on my Maxx HD. 76MB of data, it gave a warning about area too large before I settled on what I did. http://www.phonearena.com/news/Heres-how-you-can-use-Google-Maps-offline_id31517 Its out of Labs now and a regular feature.

75. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I just checked, for the US, Nokia Maps can do it by states or the entire US....wow...lol. +1 for Nokia Maps...

45. bloodline

Posts: 706; Member since: Dec 01, 2011

Wtf at the last Nokia comment about windows having offline maps...well android has offline maps so I don't get your point victor?

36. valapsp

Posts: 565; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

Go home Apple Maps you're drunk.

60. darkkjedii

Posts: 31798; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Your comment looks lonely so I'll comment so u don't feel left out. I'll also thumb it down for ya

23. AFnerdTP unregistered

This comparison is cool, but not fair.. lol when Apple Maps had time to develop and people are finding good information consistently (eventually, i hope.. for Apple's sake) THEN we can do another comparison maybe.. for now. Google Maps ftw

21. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Apple.. now with even more google. Guys, just get a darn android device already. lol. iOS couldnt exist without heavy Google integration. Apple has proven that every time they try to get rid of it. Android, less smug, more google.

35. poopsicle

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Ummm probably because Android is the buggiest OS on the market. I'm no Apple fanboy, I recently went back to android with an LG Optimus G and that thing had more buggy issues in the month I used it than the year I've had an iPhone. Apps on iOS are just built better, plain and simple. I can't have widgets? Don't care. I can't load a side APK of a paid app and get it for free? Don't care, I'm not a stiff with paying .99 cents for an app that works well.

42. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1778; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Thats because you made the mistake of getting an LG Optimus. Get a real Android device...You are correct about iOS "plain and simple" Plain being the keyword

46. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Not a single bug in the 5 months since I got my SGS3. Buddy at work switched from the iPhone to the Note 2 after using my SGS3. His iphone 4 was constantly closing apps. He noted that the Note was as smooth and fluid as his iPhone. I have a ton of paid apps on my phone, not a single pirated one. But nice try at a strawman to convince yourself you made the right move.

49. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

You made the mistake of getting an LG. The only decent LG device out there is the Nexus 4, and that's only because Google did all the software. Get a Galaxy S3, One X+ or DNA (Butterfly), Razr HD (MAXX), Xperia T, or just any Android flagship from major OEMs from the past year EXCEPT for LG; like Sony, HTC, Samsung, and Motorola. Android has been flawless for me since 4.0. Haven't had a single bug on my GS2, even when I had the old Touchwiz. Android has many faces, you just chose the ugliest one.

55. lauremar

Posts: 181; Member since: Feb 29, 2012

iOS and it's apps are just as buggy as Android maybe more. It's just that when an app crashes, it just closes with no warnings or error messages unlike Android when you get a warning or a crash report when something is not working or crashes. It's all about perception.

72. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Exactly..Something Apple is a master of....perception. Phones with higher screen res than the 3GS were out on Android and Win Mo... Higher res screens didnt become all the rage until Apple included the specs of the Retina Display and marketed it as the greatest things since....sliced bread.....lol.

73. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Funny because the iPhone has just as big a trouble shooting section in forums as Android phones...

58. buccob

Posts: 2981; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

This is all a Google conspiracy to destroy Apple and win the thermonuclear war. Google will keep adding their apps and getting more and more iOS users dependent on Gmail, Gmaps, Drive, Gtranslate, Youtube... (but not G+) and at the end...... BAM! They will withdraw the apps from iTunes, and clear iOS users, and terminate support for them... Then we'll see what phone and tablet they will buy... (jk)

17. asulect

Posts: 131; Member since: Aug 27, 2012

I was testing Google maps on ios this morning. It does not look like the IOS version of Google Maps is vector based. It zooms in, zooms out, and pans much slower than Apple maps. I believe this version of Google Maps is Raster based just like the original maps on IOS 5 or older.

20. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

"I believe this version of Google Maps is Raster based..." Who cares? Certainly not the users who have made gMaps the number 1 free app on the App Store today. Usability and accuracy won out over vector vs. raster.

22. asulect

Posts: 131; Member since: Aug 27, 2012

Yeah, raster based is much slower and and will eat up a lot of data cellular if you dont' have unlimited data plan in which people who has iphone should be able to afford.

4. darkkjedii

Posts: 31798; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Outside of turn by turn which works flawlessly on iOS, there isn't a comparison yet. Apple has work to do to catch google maps. Which it will n time due to the world only bring so big.

6. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Turn by turn works flawlessly, but it turns you to the wrong destination. What good is that?

8. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

"Apple has work to do to catch Google maps. Which it will n time due to the world only bring so big" Try saying that to others yourself next time!

19. darkkjedii

Posts: 31798; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Nathan proper grammar please, Ted you're dead wrong, Proto u missed my point...completely.

26. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I'm dead wrong? So Tim Cook apologized and recommended people use other alternatives why? Just on a whim? Google Maps surged to the number one spot in the App Store in a few hours because people are so satisfied with Apple Maps?

27. darkkjedii

Posts: 31798; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That was t due to turn by turn Einstein. Please do your research before you run your big mouth

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