Apple Maps Vs. Google Maps: Places, Roads & Labels Comparison Reveal Design Differences

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Former Head of Cartography for Apple Justin O’Beirne is in the middle of writing a four-part essay detailing the differences of Google Maps vs. Apple Maps.

The main design difference O’Beirne focused on in part one of his essay was the way Google Maps vs. Apple Maps labeled cities, roads and places. He found that Apple Maps labels cities more, while Google Maps focused on labeling roads more.

Secondly, while both map apps have a similar number of points of interest, they shows drastically different places, with only a 15 percent overlap. The categories that O’Beirne used to calculate this are: Things To-Do and See, Eat and Drink, Shopping and Services, Airports, Transit Stations, Universities, Hospitals and Other.

Google Maps prioritizes transit-related points of interest, according to O’Beirne, before showing Eat and Drink places at the more zoomed-in views. Apple Maps returns Things To-Do and See places and landmarks before focusing on the Shopping, Services and Eat and Drink categories.

[via MacStories]

A software engineer with a passion for creation and innovation using technology. To learn more about me, check out my personal website, which contains links to my projects. Email: nick@iphoneincanada.ca

  • FragilityG4

    I like Apple Maps much more. I find them to be far more accurate than google.

  • Dominic

    One reason I can’t use it ; I’m not subscribed to a data plan. Google Maps offers offline options like saving your city for offline navigation. Until Apple Maps does something like that ; I am not interested. The upside though is that Apple Maps has those cool flyover options.

  • Patrick Ducharme

    I live in a new neighborhood. Apple Maps didn’t have my street! I reported multiple time, it never been added. Also, the Highway near me was in expansion since couple of years; it was opened 3 months ago. Still not on Apple map. All of this was already on Google maps, so I can’t vote for Apple Maps, sorry!

  • Guest

    Apple Maps has me turn left on streets where it doesn’t allow left turns. Will wait.

  • I’m the exact opposite. Google Maps is better for searches and directions, especially for real-time traffic routes.

  • Dehop

    That’s a shortcoming of their mapping provider, TomTom, since their web-based maps showed the same missing or permanently changed roads (and a new bridge!) for almost a year.

    However, I hold Apple equally responsible: Apple contracted with TomTom, it’s Apple’s UI that people see. Either kick TomTom in the pants so they update their map data more often, or kick TomTom to the curb in favour of a more reactive mapping provider.

    At least Apple Maps *finally* knows there are more than two TD Canada Trust locations in Ottawa now…

  • Dehop

    Offline navigation was *amazing* during our recent trip to the US. We downloaded the city’s data while on wifi and could find and route to all the usual things as if we were online.

    One downside is I had to be logged into a Google account in order to download offline data. If Apple would implement this feature it’d be my first choice, but they would sadly be branded as followers in this case (and rightly so).

  • FragilityG4

    I find googles location inaccurate. I’ll be driving and it will say that I’ve reached the destination but I drove passed it two houses ago. Apple Maps take you to the door step.

  • artikas

    I think any experienced iOS user knows when to use google maps or apple maps they both have their pros and cons but if i would have to live with one I’d choose google

  • Z S

    I prefer the UI of Apple Maps, but when it comes to sheer data, Google definitely wins. Apple needs to open up maps to the community and have their own version of Google Mapmaker… or just switch all their data to source from OpenStreetView

  • Leonid Enin

    seems like apple doesn’t care about their software products. siri is a joke in comparison with google assistant now, same with clouds, same with maps. those guys can only add emoji to their new OSs

  • Salinger

    Not being snarky, but you are literally the only person I’ve ever heard say that. For me, it’s 100% Google maps.

  • FragilityG4

    What province do you live in?

  • Salinger

    Ontario

  • FragilityG4

    Have you not used them in a while? They work perfectly for me and I use them everyday for work. I’m in York Region.

  • ShaBi

    I have the exact opposite experience here in BC lower mainland areas. Google Maps is much more accurate with locations, directions and real-time traffic. It’s saved me so many times. Whereas Apple Maps often takes me a few houses/buildings away from my destinations, or tells me to turn onto a one way street of the opposite direction. I drive all over the place for my work, and often switch between the two.

  • GJS

    I can vouch for Salinger. Living in Ontario, Apple maps has given me inaccurate directions many times….I no longer use it.

  • Brad Fortin

    I’m with FragilityG4. Apple Maps works great in my area while Google Maps, until recently, had roads going through buildings.

  • FragilityG4

    I use Apple Maps primarily in York Region but have used them all throughout the GTA, Peel, Durham and Niagara Regions with absolutely no problems. I haven’t used Google maps since Apple Maps inception. At first I hung on to the Google app because of street view. I would use street view to see the actual place I was going to because the location is always off by a few houses/buildings. As soon as I saw how much more accurate Apple Maps are I deleted Google. Everyday they get better and better by adding in new developments and road changes. But they are far superior in accuracy in my experience in Southern Ontario.

  • jay

    You must be a hardcore apple fan.

  • jay

    For me apple maps is a disaster and not recommended to anyone.there should a trust in maps when I have to go to a business meeting. I had it twice it sent me to the wrong address and than I check always on Google maps first. Google maps is so much better offline maps or street view. Even can plan a stop in my direction and yeah everything works

  • FragilityG4

    Buddy if it works it works. Google Maps don’t work as well in my travels in southern Ontario. It’s not about being a “hardcore fan” I need to use something that works and I can rely on. Google Maps are always off. I think that all the people who are “hardcore” Google Maps fans just refuse to use Apple Maps and don’t realize how good they are. There’s your hardcore fandom.

  • websnap

    This just happens some times. My cousin’s place has only recently showed up on Google maps a few months ago and he’s lived there for 2 years. It’s more about the map making process than any one company’s ability. I think it’s fair to say both companies have all the resources they need – it’s a mater of time and where to focus it.

  • websnap

    Nice way to try and discredit his opinion.

  • websnap

    Yeah, Google Maps did a great job of sending me to an airport instead of a party I was trying to get to. Both can be great or flawed, depending on where you live.

  • I used to go back and forth between the two, and honestly in recent years they’re both about on par — Apple Maps got a very rocky start, and I think because of that, a lot of people never went back to it.

    Now that I have a car that supports CarPlay, however, Apple Maps is the only viable option unless I want to switch to an Android phone and use Android Auto. As a result, I’ve been using it almost exclusively, and I find it works really well in Toronto now for directions and real-time traffic.

    Keep in mind that real-time traffic is going to be hit and miss on either app, however, since it’s entirely dependent on how many phones are out there reporting traffic data back to their motherships. I’ve gotten onto smaller routes that are jammed up with a line of slow-moving traffic where neither Apple Maps nor Google Maps had any idea, with my guess being that nobody in that lineup of cars were using compatible phones.