Apple Maps Was the Best Navigation App, Waze Was the Worst (by Far), New Data Shows

Waze, Apple Maps, and Google Maps navigation 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Mobile navigation appsMobile navigation appsMobile navigation appsMobile navigation appsMobile navigation apps
The mobile navigation space has expanded significantly lately, with new companies joining the fight. However, the battle is still dominated by the same names, such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze.
Many people believed (and still do) that Google Maps was the go-to choice for mobile navigation. Apple Maps has often been described as the worst navigation app for good reasons. More than a decade ago, Apple Maps directed drivers to streets with no names, in lakes, or the middle of nowhere.

Google Maps and Waze rapidly became the top navigation apps on Android and iPhone and almost overnight expanded to car-optimized experiences, like Android Auto and CarPlay. Google Maps is still considered the world's number-one mobile navigation app.

However, while people believed Google Maps and Waze were the best choices in these markets—and some independent studies support this general perception in the navigation space—new statistics a former Uber employee provided paint a completely different and, in many ways, surprising picture.

Flo Crivello, who previously worked at Uber, revealed in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that his former employee conducted research on the map app offering the shortest routes. Navigation apps and short routes were critical to Uber, and you can imagine how important it is that the software is effective.

Mobile navigation apps
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
The company analyzed millions of trips, and Crivello says the purpose was simple: to understand which app was used and how long it took. Eventually, Uber tried to determine which app users believed was the best and worst. The results were surprising.

First, Google Maps wasn't the best navigation app. Apple Maps dominated the rankings, securing the first place because "it rapidly got better." Crivello agreed that Apple Maps' reputation wasn't the best, but despite many people believing the application was awful, Apple's software was the best navigation app.

Google Maps was the runner-up in the charts, while Waze was third "by far." The former Uber employee explains that Waze typically tricks users into thinking it's the best app because it "exposes them to so much info on traffic, construction, police presence." However, despite the overwhelming data, Waze routes "were actually the worst ones."

Mobile navigation apps
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
However, I can't help but insist on when the research was done. Crivello explains that Uber conducted the analysis approximately eight years ago, so he also acknowledged that these rankings could be different today.

All apps have improved significantly in the last few years.

Apple started the rollout of the massive Apple Maps makeover that includes in-house maps, 3D buildings, Waze-based incident reporting, and Look Around. The process is underway, but once complete, Apple Maps will become an essential Google Maps alternative, offering similar capabilities. Apple Maps also received support for offline maps with the most recent major iOS update and will soon get custom routes.

Mobile navigation apps
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Google Maps also improved with new capabilities, many of which were aimed at electric vehicles. Google Maps benefits from deeper integration into the car thanks to Android Automotive, where it can access battery information and offer automatic charging stop suggestions. Most recently, Google Maps also got the ability to look for nearby charging stations and suggest a stop when the battery level drops below a certain threshold.

Waze recently received the biggest feature update in years, with new capabilities like support for speed bumps and sharp curve warnings. Waze has also become a go-to destination for people driving in urban regions where the likelihood of encountering heavy traffic is higher. Its routing engine looks only for the fastest routes, whereas Google Maps can also suggest eco-friendly alternatives.

Waze is a traffic data king, providing users with information on what happens on the road, including alerts for a wide range of hazards like accidents, broken traffic lights, potholes, roadkill, fog, floods, and speed traps. The application relies on a crowdsourcing engine that allows users to mark the location of traffic hazards, using the data to generate warnings for the rest of the community.

Mobile navigation apps
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Crivello explains that users believed the worst app was Apple Maps, mainly due to its reputation. Waze was often considered the best app for navigation.

Google Maps and Apple Maps have also integrated a similar engine in certain regions. However, the support for traffic hazards is significantly lower, as they only allow users to pin the location of accidents, speed cameras, and other generic hazards.

Meanwhile, Apple Maps is getting better at what it's supposed to do despite Apple remaining frustratingly tight-lipped on the detailed city experience rollout. The updated maps are still available in a limited number of regions. Still, considering the demise of the Apple Car project, which means Apple must focus heavily on software and services, Apple Maps could get more resources in the long term.

What's your preferred navigation app, and which one do you think is the best? Let me know in the comment box below.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories