December 14th, 2012
03:34 PM ET

Mapping showdown: Apple vs Google

All iPhone owners, rejoice: No longer do you have to put up with Apple's widely criticized Maps app. Google Maps is back, and it's much better than before.

And the irony is, we have Apple to thank for it.

You've probably heard about the many problems with Apple's Maps app. But I found it usable. Not great, but it never led me to the middle of nowhere either.

Going back to Google Maps reminds me of all the things I'm missing.

It's not just that it's easier to find places in Google Maps (it is), or that the traffic function actually works (it does), or that I really loved the ability to pick out visual landmarks in Street View (I do). It's the sheer amount of detail that Google packs into their maps while still making them clear and easy to read. There's a certain art to maps, and after years Google seems to have nailed it.

But the app is also better than it was. It's been rebuilt and is much faster than before. Apple's Maps load very quickly, but Google Maps feels even faster.

It also has turn-by-turn navigation features, but that didn't work at all for me. When I selected a route and hit Start, the app would send me on a completely different route instead.

What I am sure of is that the reason Google's app is much better than it ever was: Apple.

Apple reportedly removed Google from the iPhone's built-in Maps app because Google wouldn't provide features like turn-by-turn navigation that were present on Android. The story goes that Google didn't provide those features because, well, it didn't have to. It wasn't in the contract between the two companies.

Now that contract is gone. Google is not the default Maps provider on the iPhone and Apple has its own app with turn-by-turn navigation. So you could argue that Apple forced Google to release a new-and-improved version of Google Maps on iPhone... an app that shames Apple's own.

It's a great situation for iPhone users. But probably not for Apple itself.

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. wayne v

    I have an iPhone5 with Maps. I use Siri to get directions. I have downloaded the new GoogleMaps, can I use Siri for that application or does that only work for Maps??\

    December 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  2. Jonathan Evans

    Yesterday in Jacksonville Fla. I followed Apple Maps turn-by-turn to a FedEx office on Atlantic Blvd. When I got there I found an empty storefront. So I asked Siri for another FedEx location down Southside Blvd. I called just to be sure they actually existed; they did, and I asked the lady about the Atlantic Blvd. location. "Oh," she said, "that one has been closed for 4 or 5 years." So I dutifully turned around and went back the way I came, grumbling the whole way about the damn Apple Maps. Thank goodness and Thank God Google Maps is back. J Evans, Athens Ga.

    December 15, 2012 at 12:14 am | Reply

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