You have somewhere you need to be, and you want to get there fast. You’re stuck in traffic and want to find an alternate route. You’re in a different town and want to know where the nearest coffee shop, Italian restaurant, or taxidermist is. Or maybe you just want to do a cool 3D sweep of the city you’re in. Which map service do you use – the Android or the Apple? Here’s our verdict.
Both Google Maps and Apple Maps are free. Google is available on both Android and iOS platforms while Apple Maps is only on iOS. Google collects a lot of their own map data, even buying Skybox, a high-resolution satellite imagery company to improve the accuracy of its maps. Google and Apple both share satellite data and business listings from similar sources. In addition, Google has actual human beings to manually check the maps in order to rectify any errors.
Opening up Google Maps on Android you are defaulted to standard view with labelled point of interest (POI) badges, or you can open up satellite view. Apple Maps defaults to satellite view but with no POI badges. You can switch it to hybrid mode but even then there is no text annotation to the badges. Selecting titled view brings to life the 3D modelling that makes Apple Maps so popular.
Both Google and Apple Maps offer several options for planning a route. Google offers options for walking, driving, public transport, and cycling, whereas Apple offers the best routes for walking and for driving in particular, which is the default transport option. If you’re looking for a bite to eat on the way, Google results tend to be more specific to the target area, while Apple’s results are sometimes more widespread. Google collects transit data, Apple doesn’t. Instead, users are directed to a different app for getting information on transit (sometimes that app is Google Maps!) Users can access live traffic information to choose the best route and mode of transport.
Tapping on the pin on Apple Maps brings up a box with a business name, reviews, and navigation default option for driving. Much of the same pops up on Google Maps and you can change the transit option to walk, car, bus, or cycle. Google allows you to save the business for reference later while Apple only has the option for you to save the destination as a contact. Apple offers more information on the place itself, e.g. hours, price range, category, reservation option, and whether the place is kid-friendly. Google gives a shorter description with the opening hours. Both apps allow you to view photos, and on Google you can go into street view mode. Both use Yelp for review data, and Google allows you to easily add a review yourself.
In conclusion, while Apple Maps is more aesthetically pleasing and is gaining ground fast on its main competitor, we still prefer Google Maps for its clearer search and more user-friendly navigation options. Google also has Siri to listen (and hopefully understand) your voice commands.