Google vs. Apple Maps

How does Apple Maps match up against Google Maps?

What happened to Apple Maps?

Apple has been considered as one of Google’s great competitors over the years. However, following its 2012 release, Apple Maps received public doubt which shook the brand’s reputation. This led to Tim Cook delivering an apology soon after for launching such a faulty product:
“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”
Things changed subsequently, on June 29, Apple declared to the media that they would reshape Apple Maps. This, in turn, hinted at Apple’s intention of taking active control of the data they use that powers the product rather than giving it over to third parties. It is commendable as to what Apple is doing, and have received praise from other media sites. Yet, there is a lot of work to be done if they are to catch up with Google.

First-Hand Data is the King

Today, it is proved that data-driven technology brings in various benefits not only to the business but also to people’s daily lives. For instance, people nowadays have been and will be heavily relying on reliable mapping data more than ever before. The convenience mapping data provides includes improving the tech behind autonomous driving, self-budgeted travelling, and daily navigating. In other words, we live in a world where people are dependent on mapping applications to find and guide them to what they want.

Apple falling behind

Ironically, Apple’s previous decision to outsource their mapping data back in 2012 led to data inaccuracy, such as bridges detaching from roads and recreational parks mislabeled as airports. This move led Apple to have difficulty in controlling the mapping data accuracy. It also increased the vulnerability of their brand reputation. Hence, the obvious choice for Apple was to regain control, to rebuild and renew the database themselves. Besides, the first-hand data source will give Apple a long term competitive advantage. Bringing Apply businesses insight into how audiences use their product and improve the experience the way they want.

While this is taking place, Google Maps is improving upon its software as well. As TechCrunch reported, the process of rebuilding Apple Maps means using first-hand data collected by iPhones with a data-privacy methodology. So do any other sensors and cameras belonging to Apple devices. The next generation product is expected to be launched in San Francisco and the Bay area with the next IOS 12 beta. Plus, it will cover Northern California by fall. As Apple’s senior VP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue has said to TechCrunch:

“We wanted to take this to the next level. We have been working on trying to create what we hope is going to be the best map app in the world, taking it to the next step. That is building all of our own map data from the ground up.”

Will Apple Maps Surpass Google Maps?

So far, the current interface of Apple Maps is attempting to be improved. Apple is striving to develop the Maps to be more functional. As an example, to give people a user-friendly but more accurate 3D renderings places. By identifying common-walk but unmapped public areas and displaying pinpointed instruction to a location’s front door.

These changes would be significant if they will help make Apple Maps become a better product and make it become a replacement for Google Maps.

Google’s massive lead

As Apple Maps has improved its platform,  Google has been constantly developing new features at the same time. Over the past few years, Google has been continuously optimizing its product – Google Maps. There are improvements including strengthening the business landmarks to become a better database for user reviews. These changes have resulted in Google Maps being an impressive tool to guide people to find where they want to go and learn about where they will be visiting.

At the 2018 I/O developer conference, Google announced multiple innovative improvements to Google Maps. The incorporated AR (Augmented Reality) technology allows Google Maps to take wayfinding to the next level of user experience.

Other features revealed at the conference are:

  • Giving personalized suggestions to places to visit based on the user’s previous usage of Google Maps. These records include your friends’ and your rating information. Behind this, there is a Google machinery learning mechanism helping to improve their mapping product to be a smarter and personalized product.
  • Updating Google Maps as a more social and shareable product. Google Maps now are supporting end-users to create their shareable recommendation list of places to visit. To clarify, users can collaborate with their friends on activity planning by sharing their lists and having effective socialization. Thus, this renewed function makes Google Maps identities more valuable to the business. Which increases their bargaining powers in the marketplace.
  • Meanwhile, additional changes such as the controversial adoption of the landmarks as the foundation of giving wayfinding directions. For example, Google Maps may provide users with instructions to “turn south at 141st Street” rather than “turn left at McDonald’s ”. That is not user-friendly when a person is navigating an area at his or her first visit.

Apple catching up

To keep on the same page, Apple has been investing in building up a database to give users accurate and efficient data from one point to another. But this is what Google had begun early in 2004 during their acquisition with Where 2 Technologies, an Australian software company. Furthermore, Google had already collected its first-hand data by 2006, which helped their launch of Street View one year later.

It seems that Apple may catch up with Google with the mapping technology. Apple will need to improve their Points of Internet (POI) dataset well. In the current situation, Apple is dependent on a bunch of sources to populate their POI dataset. Although the outcome is often unsatisfied and inaccurate, at least this time their step is moving in the right direction. It is time for Apple to determine to invest more in building up more relevant tools and mapping services to access more business to manage their data at scale. With Google Maps, we can see the search services are steadily growing.

Your business can benefit a lot!

There is no doubt that more and more businesses today will consider their identities on Google or Apple Maps as a high priority since that kind of investment will bring in wider brand awareness and business opportunities. Also, Google Maps have become the premium standard for mapping. Keep your brands on the listings by using tools such as your Google My Business dashboard and keep your brand’s data and contents given to Google up-to-date including your customer reviews.

On the other hand, Apple Maps is playing as another critical publisher in the market; if you are a small business, you can first disclose your brand on Apple Maps listing. If you are a multi-located business, choose Google Maps as a trusted partner will benefit.

Google Map Updates 2020

Google Maps is constantly being updated with new features for users.

As Google Maps goes into becoming more than a simple mapping tool, and instead more to the direction of being a social app, the new changes reflect that more than ever. Google knows the benefits of having first-hand data but also realizes that using third party information is also profitable such as asking the Google users to put in their opinions.

One of the main changes was the visualization of the contribution sections. Google Maps have turned a simple trip from Point A to B into an enjoyable experience for users. It allows them to see reviews, traffic time, and even recommendations made by your friends and other people in the community. These were all hidden behind multiple clicks and pages before the new update. Making Google Maps a more social tool encourages people to leave their opinions, reviews and recommendations which in return will help local businesses gain recognition and traction from new customers. People trust the word of other people in the community, so the likelihood of people trusting the reviews are pretty high.

Another major change is how Google will be taking the needs of people to the next level. They will use Google Maps to become as service-oriented as ever with things that no other company has even thought of doing. Google Maps provides features such as telling you the temperature on the subway, letting women know there are women-specific sections or even if there is adequate security on board. All these additions are small components that make the journey from point A to B all the more effortless, giving Google an extremely competitive advantage in the market.

Apple Map Updates 2020

Apple Maps has added many new features in 2020.

As for Apple Maps, since we last heard from them they were undergoing a complete reboot of their system. Due to the redo of their map, they decided to take things slowly by getting the basics done with effort and thoroughness. Instead of focusing on the extra add ons, they’ve kept things simple and chose to focus on building solid foundations. Some new updates that were added this January 2020 were main components mirroring what Google Maps already have such as:

  • Look Around: 360-degree street photography like Google’s Street View, being actively updated
  • Indoor Maps: Similar to Google’s virtual tours, it will have maps of malls and airports and other public areas
  • Collections: A feature that allows you to list your favorite locations and share with your friends
  • Transit Info: instantaneous information about departure and arrival times
  • Favorite locations: Allows you to travel to recurring locations through machine learning eg. home, school, work 
  • Siri natural language: New SIRI update for it to sound more natural and human-like eg. instead of turn right on king st, it will say turn left at the McDonalds

One interesting new feature about Apple Maps would be their new flight features including a flyover system that allows the user to see and explore over 350 cities in an aerial 3D view. Also, a flight status option that scans your emails, and flight bookings to let you know of any updates or changes.

Something that Apple mentioned which may be the deciding factor for many users is their desire for user privacy. While Google Maps makes the user connected to everything through one Google account, Apple has stated that they want to respect privacy as much as possible. So, machine learning will be limited, no sign-in will be required to use the mapping system ( and does not keep track of your location for more than 24 hours. Personalization features are only created on the device only and do not follow you. This may seem like a small change but in our world today, privacy is key and an important factor to many users.

Comparing the two platforms

History:

  • Google Maps was founded in 2005 and it quickly turned into the best mobile mapping services for both iOS and Android. 7 years past with Google Maps being the most efficient mobile mapping service, then Apple decided to create Apple Maps for iPhone and iPad devices. However, when Apple Maps first released it struggled with functionality issues from incorrect directions to glitches and bugs and the lack of public transportation support. This gave Google Maps the significant edge over this time. However, Apple Maps has bounced back by resolving these issues and improving its app over time. This allowed Apple Maps to become the most used navigation app on iOS in 2015. This is not much of a surprise given that Apple Maps is automatically installed into iOS products.
  • With the release of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple has updated Apple Maps by fixing navigation-based bug issues from previous iOS versions. Instead of using third-party navigation data, Apple is utilizing its own gathered data for Apple Maps. This data will provide new updated Maps involving high-resolution camera images directly on the Apple Maps app. Now that you have a better idea of the history of these mapping services, we can get back to comparing them.

Platform:

  • The main platform difference between Google Maps and Apple Maps is that Google Maps is cross-platform while Apple Maps is specifically designed for Apple products such as iPhones. This means that even Apple Users can use Google Maps in the same way that they use standard third-party apps. As a result, most newer smartphones can run Google Maps while only Apple products can only run Apple Maps.

Interface:

  • When you first compare Apple Maps and Google Maps alongside each other, it may be hard to find significant differences. However, when paying closer attention you can identify some visual differences. These differences include a more standard map presentation and a display of more default locations with smaller icons and texts for Apple Maps when compared to Google Maps. Google Maps also clearly highlights many default locations by using larger icons and brighter colours.
  • With Apple Maps, you can search for certain locations using the search bar located at the bottom of the screen. You can also change the map settings (map, satellite or transit) by tapping on the information button located at the top right of the screen. Apple Maps also uses custom icons for landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge. You can also see the present weather in the area while also viewing it at street-level using the Look Around feature. 
  • With Google Maps, there are less map icons that are used upon launch. The design and feel of the app also displays more contrast and is brighter and busier than Apple Maps. Google Maps also has a search box and different view modes and options including Explore, Driving, Transit, Satellite, Traffic, Terrain and Biking. Google Maps also provides 3D models of most buildings and easy access to enter in addresses and Google account settings. 

  • Navigation screen: when comparing the actual navigation screen of both services, they each have their own visual style. They both have a simple-to-use driving mode with an option to zoom-in and zoom-out. Apple presents more street-level location results while Google presents immediate information about nearby locations such as reviews. Google’s satellite view also appears to be more realistic when compared to Apple’s satellite view as it uses a more conceptual view. Both services display the estimated arrival time for travellers based on current traffic conditions. Google presents a clearer image of how traffic can affect your travel time, by using red to indicate heavy traffic. Google also presents more options to users such as a compass, directions and quick search for users to find what they need on the go. Apple is not as convenient in this regard, as you will have to pull up from the bottom portion of the screen for more options.

Unique features:

  • Apple Maps: Apple Maps integrates Siri using iOS. You can tell Siri where you want to go and Apple Maps will direct you to the location shortly after. Siri can also provide you with voice notifications while driving for easy directions. For example, Siri will say “ in 500m, turn left”, instead of “turn left at the next traffic light”. Apple Maps also uses less data when in use, making it more convenient for those on a lower data plan. One of the best features for Apple Maps is Flyover Mode, which allows users to explore highly populated areas in the forms of 3D model buildings and structures. Flyover Mode also presents users with city tours to guide you to different city landmarks. Google provides some of these features as a part of “Street View” which presents panoramic views of many places across the world.
  • Google Maps: Google Maps features some useful features including bicycle maps and offline access. The Google Maps bicycle route feature is much more developed and thorough compared to Apple Maps, which only displays bike-sharing stations. Google Maps also makes it easy for users to download map data for offline use, in case they do not have data or need map data for future reference.

Privacy:

  • Apple keys in on its customer privacy method more than Google does. Apple Maps does not require users to sign in to a user account and the navigation data that it processes does not connect to your Apple ID at all. Apple uses a process called “fuzzing” which converts specific places to inaccurate locations over the span of 24 hours. This protects the personal and navigation data of users. Google’s privacy method is not as definite, but they do offer different customization and control options such as Incognito mode, to maintain the privacy of your searches.

Even with its improvements, Apple Maps still has a ways to go before challenging Google Maps as the best mobile mailing service.

So, which is better?

  • Even with the new updates and policies made by Apple, it is nowhere near the level Google Maps is on. They are both focused on completely different things. Apple Maps doing the groundwork, while Google Maps have had the solid groundwork for years and are now able to focus on user satisfaction and innovation. It will likely take Apple some time to catch up to Google and even if they do, it will be hard to one-up Google in terms of ideas and new components. Despite this, Apple Maps is not backing down from the challenge
  • Whatever path you finally choose with, trying to invest strategically in these platforms will decrease your risk and maximize your brand presence on the online searching platforms. If you have any questions regarding the content mentioned in this article, contact us!
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