Google Maps vs. Apple Maps

By January 10, 2013 Blog 3 Comments

When adventuring
Be sure to use Google Maps
Over Apple Maps

by Tim Aaron
Aurnhammer Philosopher and Social Media Strategist

In recent decades, mapping has seen a major change. Though one might think this change has resulted from melting ice caps and shifting tectonic plates, what I am actually referring to is the change in the inherent nature of maps and how users interact with them. What once was a fixed representation of the globe has now become a dynamic, interactive assistant during travels and location searches. And with multiple corporations competing to be crowned king of this novel mapping experience, countless technological innovations have been made in the endeavor to develop a mapping platform that is flawless and that outperforms the competition. So then, between the two most common, free, mapping applications for Apple’s most recently released operating system, namely Google Maps and Apple Maps, let’s look at which location finder exceeds the other performance-wise.

Investigating this question, I began by looking into what others have said on the issue and, not to my amazement, the statements that both Apple and Google gave about their own apps spoke for many. In an interview with James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, Michael Jones, Chief Technology Advocate for Google, said, “We’ve worked to invent the most comprehensive, authoritative, useful mapping solutions that humans can build, and I think we’ve been pretty successful at that.” Jones’ positive account of Google Maps reflects the detailed, consistently updated map app that Google should be proud of. If we look at Jones’ statement in comparison to the apology that Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, gave the week after the release of Apple Maps, we see a stark difference: “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.”  Apologizing further, Cook even went on to suggest other map apps as an alternative, including Google’s, during the interim while changes were being made to Apple’s Maps.

With my knowledge of both the way that the two companies felt about their own apps as well as the way that many others in the tech community felt, I moved to perform a side by side comparison of Google Maps and Apple Maps. What I concluded was that three months after Cook’s apology, it seems as though people will remain lost using the Apple application whereas people will be brought back from their off-course journeys by using the Google application. Why? Google’s search-speed and map accuracy are far superior.





Testing search-speed, I chose my favorite restaurant, City Hall Restaurant, which is located right in my neighborhood in TriBeCa, and began typing the letters into Google Maps’ search bar. As you can see, after typing “City h”, my restaurant of choice had already popped up… search complete and I’m happy (and soon to be full). What’s more, the rest of the options that Google provided me with, aside from the correct search option, took my search location into consideration and output other options that began with “City h” located in New York City and in my area. Now, if we look at what happened when I typed “City h” into Apple Maps’ search bar, there’s a whole different story.

If you look, typing “City h” into Apple’s search bar does not even give me the restaurant that I am looking for. The “city hall” that Apple provides as its first suggestion is a government building located in Philadelphia. Odd, but possibly not too out of the norm; I did only type five letters at this point. But what really doesn’t make sense are the other suggestions that Apple provides. I am searching from New York City and Apple gives me suggestions of City h’s that range from being located in Durban KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to North Port Florida, none of which are in New York City. Looking for a location in New York City, Apple’s suggestions are a non sequitur.

After going through many searches, the results were in and Google stood as the victor in terms of search-speed and assistance.


Map Accuracy



Looking at a map accuracy comparison, if your jaw just dropped you’re not the only one. Taking a look at an intersection in my neighborhood, Google Maps populates the area with the schools, banks and other businesses that are near by. What’s more, the places are all there in their correct, respective locations. However, when we look at the exact same intersection in Apple Maps, we see a barren wasteland with four businesses and one school in the area. What’s worse, the SoulCycle, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Barnes & Noble that Apple Maps does present are all in the incorrect locations. Unless you want a bed when you’re searching for a bank or food when your mind is set on working out, Apple Maps seems not to be the app you’d want to use.

So again, after many searches, the results demonstrate Google to be the victor in terms of map accuracy.

One advantage that Apple Maps does have over Google Maps is iOS integration with Siri. However, if you’re more of a talk person than a touch person, there is a way to use Siri with Google Maps as well. If you solicit directions from Siri and tack on “via transit” to the end of your sentence, Apple Maps will open with Google Maps and other “routing” maps as options to take you to your final destination. Simply click the “route” button and Google maps will outline your excursion and you’re good to go.

While Apple has made progress since its release of Maps, Google maintains superior data and more advantageous search algorithms. As Apple accepts map corrections and users contribute to its searches, Maps will become more detailed and accurate. But, as of now, if you want to get where you’re going when you’re going, Google will ensure a journey that is much less likely to end in stress and tears than Apple, especially if you’re final destination is slightly obscure.

Now that you have some food for thought, check out the differences between Apple Maps and Google Maps yourself and add to the conversation. Only through collaborative discussion will we advance knowledge and achieve enlightenment.



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