Who’s Copying Whom? Google Maps Updated With Air Quality Details, Apple Did It First

With Apple working around the clock on making Apple Maps a better alternative to Google Maps, it’s no surprise that many claim the Cupertino-based tech giant is simply following in the footsteps of its rival.
Google Maps AQI data 9 photos
Photo: Google
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In other words, Apple is mostly a follower that rarely comes up with something new, as most of the new features that end up going live in Apple Maps have been around for a while in Google Maps.

Well, this isn’t necessarily true, as Google has just announced a new Google Maps feature that has actually been available for Apple Maps users for several years already.

Thanks to the new air quality layer that can be enabled on Google Maps, users can see the Air Quality Index (AQI) right on the map, therefore figuring out how healthy or unhealthy the air in a specific region is in just a few seconds. In the U.S., the data is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and PurpleAir, Google says.

As for who did it first, the answer is as simple as it could be: Apple.

While Google originally previewed the AQI integration in Google Maps in March 2021, Apple actually integrated similar information in Apple Maps with the release of iOS 12.2 beta. This particular testing build of the iPhone operating system went live in January 2019.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean much because there’s a chance Google ends up doing it better anyway. Google Maps will most likely bring the AQI layer to users worldwide much faster than Apple, as the air quality information in Apple Maps continues to be available in the U.S. and in a few other countries out there.

This isn’t necessarily a surprise, though, as Apple has always prioritized the U.S. and other large regions, with the broad availability of new features sometimes taking years to be reached.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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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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