Google Maps is the go-to choice for mobile navigation, and there is no doubt about that. It is the most advanced and detailed navigation app, but Apple Maps is starting to make waves, finally. A slew of recent updates released with iOS 13 had fans in a frenzy. There is a lot of talk about how it’s time to ditch Google Maps in favor of Apple Maps.
Well, I am impressed with all the love and attention that Apple has poured on to Maps with the iOS 13. However, I'm still not sure if it’s still there yet. We need to take a look at all the features, important and necessary ones anyway before we can make a call.
1. Platform Availability
If you are a die-hard Apple user, you can use Apple Maps because otherwise, it's not available for Windows or Android. There is no website either but just apps for macOS, iPadOS, and iOS. In a world where cross-platform availability and interoperability are becoming the norm quickly, Apple is restricting its services to the walled garden.
2. Devil Is in the Details
Apple says that the maps are much more detailed than they were previously, and I agree. It's still far behind what Google Maps has to offer. Some hardcore users might even callously call it comparing apples to oranges. Note that to make it easier to differentiate, I have enabled dark mode in Apple Maps.
Undoubtedly Apple Maps has gotten better, but Google Maps continues to be more detailed. I find maps quite useful when I am out riding and stop in the middle of nowhere. That's why you have to rely upon its richness in terms of accuracy, details, and features.
Google Maps shows more information like website address, ability to call directly from the app, opening and closing hours, and even Popular times. So you know when to expect a rush which is useful for travelers and businesses. Google Maps shows reviews submitted by users. Apple Maps pulls data from Wikipedia and TripAdvisor, which is equally cool but misses out on several other details.
Apple Maps pulls in data from several other sources too. However, Google Maps has been running campaigns encouraging users and businesses to enter their data for years now. That's why Google Maps carry a lot more details on several places. Frankly, there are too many features in Google Maps to list here.
Fun Fact: Apple Maps turned 7 years old in September, while Google Maps turned 14 in October.
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3. Directions and ETA
I have never been to Paris, but it’s in my bucket list. I searched for Eiffel Tower to airport, and unfortunately, Apple Maps returned with — No Results Found.
I searched for only Eiffel Tower this time and then searched for the airport. Instead of showing the full route, it only shows the road to Airport Connection with an ETA that’s 6 minute. Damn again. Here is how it looks in Google Maps.
I have visited the Taj Mahal. It’s a symbol of love. Having visited the city, I know it takes about 40 minutes to reach the airport from the monument. Apple Maps showed me the way from Taj Mahal in Agra to the airport in another city, Ahmedabad. I had searched for that city in Apple maps before moving on, but still, that’s odd behavior.
Apple Maps seems to be far behind Google Maps right now. This time, I searched for Taj Mahal to Agra airport and got better results. I guess, you need to be a little more specific. AI is not Apple Maps' strong suit, for now.
Google Maps navigation is color-coded. For example, red represents heavy traffic. Google also marks tolls, light traffic and other metrics. Apple Maps shows traffic in Satellite view, which I don't prefer.
4. Common features
There are a lot of things that Apple Maps gets right, and is at par with Google Maps. Of course, when comparing two services, it is natural to find some (okay, several) differences. You can save favorite places in a list and share it with others in both the navigation apps.
We are familiar with the prowess of Google Streets View, Google Maps companion app that allows you to explore a neighborhood in 3D. You can explore mythological places too. Apple Maps has launched Look Around, which is available in a limited number of cities right now. We expect it to rise in the coming years. On the plus side, Look Around looks stunning and rich when compared to Google Streets View. Also, you don’t have to download a separate app.
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5. Where Google Maps Shines
Google Maps and Streets View is available on all platforms, including the web. That means a larger screen, which then makes it easy to view the map. You can also send a location to your mobile, ready to begin the navigation automatically. Small things that make lives easier.
Then there is the recently launched Live View where you can use your camera to view the directions in real-time. It's truly magical.
Map My World
Apple Maps has come a long way, but there are still miles to go. They played it smart by pulling data from existing sources like Wikipedia and TripAdvisor, among others. Look Around and real-time ETA features are pretty solid.
But as noted earlier, the devil is in the details. Google Maps gets several small things right and makes using the app that much easier and fun. Apple is investing its resources in building the maps app and improving it to compete with Google. Clearly, it's a long term battle that Apple is planning against Google.
Next up: Looking for even more Google Maps tips and tricks. Here are 13 excellent tips and tricks for Google Maps.