I’m sticking with Apple Maps

The anticipation for the arrival of Google Maps last night was incredible and rightfully so. However, after using it, I’ve decided I’m sticking with Apple Maps.

Google’s interface for Maps isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. I like the interface on Apple Maps a lot better — the little Apple-esque touches that they put in their apps is second to none.

Interface aside, it’s how the app works that makes the real difference. Like millions of other people, I downloaded Google Maps last night and decided to get directions to one of my favorite restaurants, just a few miles from my house.

After typing in the name of the restaurant, Google Maps took me to India, which is on the other side of the world from where I am.

This morning, I took my daughter in town and used Google Maps to find our location. It found the place just fine and gave me a route close to what I would normally take. On the way, I ignored some directions to see how it would handle being re-routed.

It did okay, but there was a long lag as it figured out where to take me next and instead of finding the best route from where I was, it kept trying to take me back to the original route.

I used Apple Maps on the way home and it did a much better job of alerting me to upcoming turns and being quick to recognize when the route had changed.

I recognize that Apple Maps needs some work — there is no doubt about that. However, I have said from the very beginning that Maps worked well for me in the cities I’ve tried it. That continues to be true.

I’m glad Google released maps on iOS, even though it was a dick move to not give iOS users turn-by-turn navigation until Apple threw them out.

Competition is good for users and I support that, but I’m not about to throw out an app that works great for me.

  • Well, we didn’t see this blog comming from miles away, did we?! Typical..

    • You have to understand that not everyone has experienced problems with Apple Maps. They work perfect in my area and have continued to work when traveling as well. I know there are tons of issues, but they really only apply to those affected. I’m not giving Apple a free pass on its mistakes, but I think that even a fanboy can have an honest and unbiased opinion about Apple Maps due to the problems in certain areas.

      • Apple Maps looked incredible during the keynote when Forstall was presenting it for the first time, I wonder what went wrong from that time until release…

        • Roberto Felgueiras

          Controlled demo.

          • The reality is there is nothing wrong with Apple maps for most people. Google maps gets it wrong too just not as much. For example Google Maps in Australia routed people in the same wrong directions as Apple Maps did.

        • Dan

          There is nothing wrong with the app. I still find the apple maps app to be a better app with better cartography and better TBT. Where Google wins is data and search, which are more important in this situation

    • Nothing wrong with using the app that works best for you. At least now users have good options. In my area, I’ll use Apple Maps for turn-by-turn navigation & Google Maps for POI, Transit, & Street View.

    • Your mommy likes this blog.

  • I tend to agree. And I found Google Maps paticularly hungry on battery (locating ni the background, etc.) I will keep Google Maps installed for now, in case Apple Maps doesn’t satisfy me in a use case.

  • Glen

    Fair enough. I guess people will use what they like. At the very least the jokes will end and whining will stop. This move will spur Apple to do even better and do whatever it has to do faster. Time is money really. Cannot improve maps at the same pace Google took (5 years to be usable). Gotta make some big acquisitions I think, else the process of mapping the earth is going to take a long long time

    • Neither the jokes nor the whining will stop. Zealots will continue to cite Maps as a “pervasive” problem long after the most obvious data errors get updated.

    • And how do you think they can improve their mistakes faster on Maps if supposedly a large number of their users stop using Apple Maps and find comfort in Google’s offering? If Apple couldn’t release it at a fast enough rate in the first place [without all the tomfoolery], I doubt this will help their case.

      • Most iOS users won’t install Google Maps. They will use what came on the phone. Few even know the difference among the millions of people with iOS devices.

      • dan

        Sure a large number will move to Google maps. But Apple is still able to track you and your movements. Secondly, i’d see to see a number of what percentage of iOS users are using Google maps within a few weeks. A inbuilt app will always be used more than a third party one.

        And finally, I dont think you read what I wrote. Acquiring a company like TomTom and 4sq will allow Apple to get its POI database up to speed. 4sq is pretty strong today and well worth the investment

  • I have to agree with you. Apple Maps hasn’t caused me any problems. I use it quite often. Google Maps isn’t bad at all, but I really don’t have a use for it. At least everyone can calm down and be happy. If you don’t like Apple Maps, there’s an app for that.

  • tylernol

    good point, Apple Maps is really great at quickly re-routing , one of my favorite features.

  • Devin

    I have had no problems with Apple maps, but I’m going with google because I was sorely missing transit directions. Glad to have them back!

  • Sevores

    I’d stay with Apple maps for the nice UI that you mentioned if there was any sign of the data improving. I have reported dozens of issues since the iOS6 beta and none of them have been fixed. At least with GMaps, there is constant improvement. Restaurants that moved last week are already updated and show correct location, the public transit coverage is also really good. Google has two products that are absolutely best in their category: search and maps. (Disclaimer: I live in Europe, so maybe Apple’s data is better in the US.)

    • TomV

      FWIW: I have reported dozen of issues in and around Cupertino since the day iOS6 has been released. None have been fixed either.

      Meanwhile a bunch of minor Google Maps bug reports were filed as well (these were in Europe), and there were fixed after a week or too.

  • Richard@DigitalP

    I agree with you Jim, although I will probably use Google Maps for transit directions. I really like Apple maps for turn-by-turn.

  • Street view & baked in transit directions are enough to boot Apple Maps from my home screen.

    I wonder why Google chose to not incorporate Contacts search though? The Mapquest app can look at your contacts, but Google Maps doesn’t – so that’s kind of annoying. Oh well, hopefully that’ll be remedied in an update.

  • Eric Trepanier

    Maybe once I upgrade to an iPhone 5, I’ll go back to Apple Maps for the routing directions, the 3D views, etc.

    But on my crusty old iPhone 4, I sure am glad to be able to go back to Google Maps, however imperfect they might be. Hey, at least I’ll have routing directions, transit and street views, none of which is provided for me by the Apple apps.

    • Turn by turn is a welcome addition to my crusty old iPhone 4, as well.

      Don’t know why Google can offer this on an iPhone 4 but Apple can’t. I guess it doesn’t really matter to Google if you upgrade to the latest iPhone or not.

      • Roberto Felgueiras

        I think it has more to do with Siri and its integration than the ability of the 4 being able to do turn by tur or not.

  • Up next, Jim sticks with Heineken.

  • I will use a combination of both. Apple Maps for navigation, Google Maps for Streetview.

    • DanPierce

      Streetview is the only thing I really miss from Apple Maps. As I only use it occasionally, I don’t mind having to load a second app to get it. Though accessing it on the app is a little cumbersome.

      • Roberto Felgueiras

        I only knew about street view on the iOS 5 maps right before 6 came out. The new google maps app has a way easier Implementation than the ios5 maps did.

        • DanPierce


          In iOS5: Touch map to drop a pin.

          Tap orange icon on pop-up.

          In Google Maps: Touch map to drop a pin. Swipe address info up from the bottom. Select street view.

          I also miss the little map thumbnail in the corner that would show where you were looking. Hopefully, Google will add that in a future update.

  • Ben

    I appreciate a lot of the little touches in Google Maps, but overall I’m more comfortable with the Apple interface. The biggest downside, I think, of Apple maps is their search is so much worse. Navigation and locations seem fine, but it doesn’t do nearly as good a job as google maps for handling finding things if you don’t know exactly what you want. I suppose Apple’s philosophy is you do those kinds of searches in Yelp or Urbanspoon and then use Maps to get directions, but it’s a big difference for browsing via search.

  • Moburkhardt

    Me too

  • I just used Apple Maps driving from Nova Scotia to Florida and found it worked great. It was far more reliable than the “in vehicle” nav especially through New York/New Jersey.

  • What’s the name of that restaurant, Jim? Either way, this will definitely slow Apple improving Apple Maps through their crowdsourcing users, simply because there are undoubtedly a good number of users (either waiting to upgrade to iOS 6 or already here) that have been dying to get back on a native version of Google Maps. Watch out for more updates to the Google Maps app as it builds in more and more functionality…

    • Dan

      a built in app will always get more usage than an app downloaded from the appstore. And apple can always acquire companies to get its data. I can bet some big acquisitons are coming soon. TomTom, Foursquare for starters.

  • Google’s places of interest (POI) database alone is worth the switch back from Apple. Searching for and locating Informal place names while traveling is a must for me and Apple’s database for POI’s is terrible. Google has crowd-sourced this data for years via Google places, mining search queries, check-ins, etc… It will take Apple years to match this.

  • Same here. I have no reason to switch. I have been using since the beta and have not had a single problem. Seems a lot non-iPhone users were having issues though, surprisingly.

  • Keith Lunnen

    I agree. Apple maps have been fine here. Turn by Turn is a great thing about the Apple Maps. I don’t need Google Maps App. I like Google Maps on the Mac, and when Apple has Maps for the Desktop I will look at that and see. Street view is very helpful.

  • dmx

    agree. there are just subtle things in Apple’s Map make it standout. It is nice to have backup plan in Google’s Map so no complaint here.

  • stsk

    Seemingly unlike most people, due to the lack of voice guidance, I was never a big user of the iOS native maps, either before or after Google got kicked to the curb. The only thing I’d use Maps for was (rarely) transit directions. Also, Motion X integrates with my JVC in-dash system, so I could view maps on a 7 inch screen and have auto muting etc. So, changing the native map app was a non-issue for me. Since the change, I’ve gone out of my way to compare different apps. I have yet to find one that didn’t screw up. The hysteria about Maps is completely silly, IMHO.

  • Yup.

  • Brandon

    I HIGHLY prefer Apple Maps for two words, Vector Graphics!

    After two minutes I remembered how much I hate waiting for Google Maps to load image tiles every time I change the zoom. Of course, it always loads the one in the middle (you know, the one you actually want) last…

    • tomborowski

      THIS version of Google Maps uses vector graphics.

      • Herding_sheep

        It does use vector graphics, but you really couldn’t tell in comparison to Apples app because the quality is far below Apples implementation.

        Apples application shines in terms of quality and polish (I’m strictly talking about the software). Googles app shines in terms of its data and some of the map tile details. It’s easily noticeable the difference, look how much smoother the zooming and scrolling is in Apples, and the turn by turn UI has much better graphics.

        There’s a lot of fine details in the usability design of Apples app that I really appreciate. Apple is simply much better at designing software. Google is much better at collecting data. I guess pick your poison. I’m sticking with Apples simply because I find the app to be better quality, and I rarely need to “find” places in maps, I already know where I want to go and just need directions. Everyone is different though.

        • it’s not about “picking your poison,” functionality will always trump bells and whistles. if an app cannot reliably accomplish it’s primary task, you shouldn’t use it.

          unless you hold stock in apple, i guess.

          • Apple Maps reliably accomplishes its primary task.

          • Tm

            That is what that couple in Australia thought too.

          • steven75

            You mean Australia where GMaps had the same probelm and warning from the police to not rely on GMaps?

            That Australia?

  • I don’t know if I’m going to switch for sure just yet. But I’ll certainly give it more than a day before I decide. Forgone conclusion, much?

  • BC2009

    It’s popular to bash Apple Maps, but most of the out-cries I hear about it are things that are problems in Google Maps as well (even the public-safety announcement against Apple Maps in Australia was followed by one for Google Maps).

    If you are accustomed to using transit directions in iOS 5 in the Maps app, then I can see some people taking issue with it now being part of third-party app integration. I never even knew that feature was there and so when I visited NYC two years ago, I simply downloaded a transit app that was advertised at a subway station and used that the whole time I was there. So I don’t miss transit and I LOVE the turn-by-turn directions and 3D views — it was a very good trade-off for me. Additionally, a guy like me saw the integration with transit apps as an upgrade since I did not even know that iOS 5 had that built in.

    The biggest and only drawback to Apple Maps is that the POI database is lacking in ways I am not accustomed to. Google lacked many POI’s and had plenty of stale ones, but I knew the ones around town by heart. I knew which entries to ignore when calling a business I looked up and I knew when to use Navigon to get a phone number for a business because it was missing in Google’s data. I don’t know which are missing are missing from Apple’s data and so I find myself wasting time trying to decide between Apple, Navigon and Google to find businesses and get their phone numbers for calling. However, the big plus here is that Siri does let me say “Call [business name]” and it will pull it up for me, tell me which is closest, and let me browse through them with my voice as it reads me the locations while I am driving with a hands-free headset.

    All-in-all, I have not been terribly anxious for Google Maps on iOS, but I will download it as yet another source of POI locations and phone numbers to add to the ones I have.

  • Alex

    If only there was a choice in Montreal… Apple Maps is mostly terrible here, locations are missing, directions are crap, even road layouts are inaccurate too often. Sigh. Love the app, but data is awful for here.

  • I’ll go with Apple Maps once it gets me where I need to be reliably. It’s about 50/50 in major US cities for me (Minneapolis, Chicago). Forget about it in major non-US cities (Barcelona).

  • Peter Alexander

    Apple Maps just can’t find anything in the UK in terms of POI and towns and villages are still missing. No amount of interface delight can compensate for that.

  • “After typing in the name of the restaurant, Google Maps took me to India, which is on the other side of the world from where I am.”

    One of two things can explain this:

    1. You typed it wrong.
    2. It didn’t actually happen.
  • Nick

    I didn’t realise that I liked apple maps so much. I’m sticking with it as well.

  • What an unusual turn of events for this blogger!!

  • sfmitch

    Google Maps doesn’t integrate with iPhone address book. That is a huge deal breaker for me. I’ll keep it on the phone but I will continue to use Apple Maps as my default maps / nav app.

  • Dear Jim, I need to be honest this time.

    But I really don’t think you know how to use Maps or what Maps Apps should provide to you when you drive/walk.

    The User-Interface is important, but the Maps is more important. If you stick with Apple Maps instead of Google Maps that just… weird.

    You don’t want the “real maps” —which it’s Google Maps currently— but you want the “beauty of the User-Interface”!

    Maps Apps are serious, First: The Quality of The Maps. Second: The User-Interface.

    Maps aren’t Twitter Client to care a lot about User-Interface.

  • Domingo

    I just made a side by side comparison ( Two Iphone 5s tasked with routing to same address)and I have to say that the Apple Maps is superior especially with the turn by turn directions. Apple Maps gives you adequate visual warning as you approach your turn while the Google maps seems to throw it out to you in the last moment.

    I am starting to believe that all this brouhaha about the maps is rather contrived by Google fans to clip Apple’s wings. The good thing about all of it is that adversity seem to make Apple a better company, and we all need to eat humble pie every now and then to stay grounded.

  • Julio Ojeda-Zapata

    Interesting on the India. I typed Andes into Apple Maps and it unhelpfully pointed me to the mountain range; Google Maps intelligently assumed I meant a local South American eatery.

  • Diar

    If only the millions of people who’ve had problems and bailed on Apple Maps – and raced to download Google Maps the second it was released – had the same experiences with the app that ALL Apple bloggers seem to have. Nothing but sunshine and rainbows. [/sarcasm]

    And don’t believe that crap about Jim being directed to a restaurant in India – unless it had India in the name and he put a comma in front of it. That’s user error if it did happen, which is doubtful. But if it did he would have screenshot that and put up a pic super-fast. (He could also reproduce the error to prove it).

    Basically, become an Apple blogger and you will have no problems with the maps.

  • hankdu

    In the US maybe Apple’s map is ok but everywhere else Apple map is not as good as Google map. This is one very important thing missed by this article.