When it comes to maps, the majority of iOS users turn either to Apple Maps or to Google Maps. Although Apple Maps was very unreliable when it was first released with iOS 6, it has greatly improved in the following years and is now a true alternative to Google Maps. In this article we’ll list the pros and cons of each app, so you can decide which one is best for you.
Interface & Performance
Even though both apps feature a clean main interface with relatively few buttons, each app displays additional information for a given venue in a slightly different way. Apple Maps uses a pane to display the available information while Google Maps takes over the whole screen. Both experiences are similar on iPhone, but on iPad Google Maps takes much more screen real estate.
In terms of performance, both apps ran equally well. If you have a newer phone or tablet, you can expect no lag or stuttering.
In terms of content, Apple uses information provided by Yelp and TomTom, while Google relies on its own database and user reviews, so you’ll get noticeably different information depending on the app you use.
The same is true for finding nearby locations of interest – both apps have the ability, but they present it in different ways and the results are almost never identical.
Both Google and Apple Maps allow you to toggle between Standard, Hybrid and Satellite map views as well as traffic conditions. Google Maps goes one step further by allowing you replace the traffic conditions with public transportation routes and bicycle-friendly roads.
Here Google and Apple Maps go in entirely differently directions. Google Maps doesn’t show any 3D buildings on the map. Instead, they give you the option to use Street View.
Apple, on the other hand, has what is arguably one of the most beautiful implementations of 3D maps and they call if Flyover. Even though it’s visually impressive, it will not help you find your way around. Unless you use helicopters instead of cars… or you’re Clark Kent or Tony Stark.
Both apps feature free turn-by-turn driving directions, however when we tested both apps, they gave slightly different recommendations which resulted in slight different journey lengths and time estimation differences. On average, Google Maps offers shorter routes and minimizes time loss.
Apple Maps has a few advantages when it comes to driving directions:
- Integration with Siri allows you to ask for directions without opening the Maps app.
- Lock screen integration lets you see where you need to go while the phone is locked.
- Maps for OS X integration lets you plan out your route on your Mac and then send the driving directions to your iPhone with a single click.
Google Maps, on the other hand, has the advantage of being able to save the map data needed for your journey to the phone so you can drive without an active internet connection.
Here the tables are decidedly in favor of Google Maps since Apple Maps only supports driving and walking directions.
Although Apple Maps has come a long way in the last few years, the best it can do is to rival Google Maps. There are very few areas where Apple Maps surpasses Google’s offering and most of those are the advantages of being a 1st party app, such as Siri and lock screen integration.
As far as venue information and other data, both apps are on a more equal footing, although Google still has more information on less populated areas.
So which one should you use? If you’re using public transportation or you need Street View, there’s no question about it – Google Maps is the way to go. If you’re mainly driving, then we recommend keeping both apps on your phone and checking them both for route suggestions and venue recommendations since their data sources are different. And if you are indeed Clark Kent or Tony Stark, you probably need no navigation at all.