Google Maps vs. Apple Maps: Their Strengths and Weaknesses

Google Maps vs. Apple Maps 14 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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I know what you think. Another "Google Maps vs. Apple Maps" story where I'm being told Google Maps is better. While I agree that the web is full of articles that eventually recommend one of the two, my goal today is to create a list of pros and cons for each app, eventually trying to prove that finding the better app between Google Maps and Apple Maps is harder than most people think.
I'll need your help on this, so please use the comment box at the end of the article to join the conversation and help me expand the list I'll share below.

Before anything, I must make sure everybody is on the same page here. Google Maps has dominated the navigation space in the last few years, including on Apple's playground. The vast majority of iPhone users installed Google Maps due to the lack of features or map errors in Apple Maps, so Google's software slowly but surely became the go-to choice for navigation on smartphones and in the car.

Apple has been struggling to change people's perception of Apple Maps for years. The detailed city experience, whose rollout started several years ago, is the most extensive transformation in the history of Apple Maps. It includes Apple's maps, 3D buildings, improved navigation, incident reporting, and so much more to make Apple Maps a better Google Maps alternative.

Google Maps navigation on CarPlay
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Everybody agrees that Apple moves too slowly. It must accelerate the DCE rollout and bring this update to everybody worldwide. It feels late to the party, as Google Maps is already the number one mobile navigation solution, and pushing back the Apple Maps overhaul only gives Google more time to secure its leading position.

The biggest difference between the two happens in a department that many people forget about when comparing the two mapping platforms. Google is a data monster, so Google Maps excels in business information and reviews. Apple Maps still has inaccurate data, and many businesses are missing or located at the wrong address. Reading user reviews on Apple Maps is a painful experience, as the Yelp integration makes this part of the service feel half-baked and outdated.

Google Maps is an excellent resource for finding business information and reading people's opinions on restaurants, stores, parks, and everything else you find on the map. Google Maps is the best choice for searching and getting information.

Apple Maps navigation on CarPlay
Photo: Apple
Apple Maps is often the preferred service by privacy-conscious users. Apple's marketing department excels at making a big deal out of the privacy offered to users, and Apple Maps is one of the services that are part of this strategy. Google is known as a company that collects all the data it can get, so Apple Maps wins this chapter.

The navigation experience with Google Maps and Apple Maps is different based on where you live and whether Apple has already enabled the detailed city experience.

Google Maps is generally the better option thanks to more accurate maps and business information. Because Apple doesn't have the same extensive business database or sometimes displays wrong information, Apple Maps could direct users to the wrong location. Google Maps has no such problem, as it typically offers accurate navigation.

Google Maps navigation on CarPlay
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
However, if the detailed city experience is available in Apple Maps, navigating with Apple's software on the screen feels more modern and refined. Apple Maps with DCE is a beautiful solution that makes guidance more convenient and straightforward, so you always know where you are and which way to go when following a suggested route. The maps are beautiful, the 3D buildings are of great use, and the little things, such as the location of stop signs along the route, make the road more predictable.

I found Apple Maps to be better in cities and on highways, but Google Maps excels outside the city. The lack of satellite maps for navigation (Apple Maps has satellite maps but disables them when navigation is enabled) could also push some users to Google Maps.

Google Maps also has better traffic data and real-time information. It gets more traffic data thanks to its larger user base and imports information from Waze, a traffic navigation app whose main engine is a crowd-sourcing system. Apple also comes with incident reporting in regions where the DCE is available, but the feature has yet to gain traction.

Apple Maps feels better at navigation in the United States, while Google Maps is more accurate in Europe. Google Maps and Waze control a bigger market share in Europe, meaning they also obtain more traffic data and can offer accurate real-time information. Apple still feels like a work-in-progress sometimes, so it needs more users to contribute with data, including reviews and correcting businesses.

Apple Maps navigation
Photo: reddit
To sum up, here are the differences between Google Maps and Apple Maps:
  • Google Maps is better for reviews and business information
  • Apple Maps is better at navigation in the US
  • Google Maps is better at navigation in Europe
  • Apple Maps is more aesthetically pleasing
  • Google Maps has better traffic information
  • Google Maps is better at searching
  • Apple Maps still lacks some features (satellite navigation)

As I said, I invite you to contribute to this article with your comments in the box below.
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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.
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