Why Google Maps Is Better than Apple Maps

I’ve been using Google Maps for years, since before Apple released its own map apps. When Apple Maps was first released, I found it very hard to read; there wasn’t enough contrast between roads and backgrounds, and texts were tiny. That’s improved a bit since the initial release, but not much.

Every now and then I try out Apple Maps, when looking for a certain location or a specific type of business. I tried again recently, to see if Apple had improved things with the releases of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.

Here’s an example. There are three pubs near me. I searched for pubs in both Apple Maps (where it’s a preset category) and in Google Maps (where I just typed the word “pub.”) Here’s what Apple Maps told me:

Apple maps

And here’s Google Maps’ results:

Apple maps

As you can see, Google Maps knows about all three pubs; Apple Maps only knows about one (and not the best one, at least for food).

This is what I find for anything I search. Look for restaurants, gas stations, any type of business, and you won’t find as many locations in Apple Maps as in Google Maps.

Some people in the US have told me that it is very complete over there, but others here in the UK have confirmed that they have similar problems. Apple doesn’t create its own map data; they license it from various companies. I’m sure those companies, which sell GPS devices in the UK, have excellent data, so why doesn’t it filter into Apple Maps?

Also, when I moved to the house where I currently live, a bit more than a year ago, I looked at many of the businesses around my area, and in Stratford-upon-Avon, and submitted a number of corrections to Apple through their Maps app. Apple did fix these, and relatively quickly, but what surprised me was the number of corrections I was able to make in a very short time. Most of these were businesses that were not in the right location; I didn’t add any businesses that I didn’t find on the map.

So, it’s back to Google Maps. It’s reliable, I can trust that when I’m looking for a place to eat or to fill my car’s tank, I’ll find what I want.

23 thoughts on “Why Google Maps Is Better than Apple Maps

  1. I totally agree. Naturally, as a UK resident, I cannot comment on the North American experience; but here, I find Apple Maps well behind Google in almost all respects including presentation and accuracy.

  2. I live in New Mexico, a sparsely populated state in the Southwestern USA, which many people and businesses consider to be part of Mexico. Around here, I find that Apple Maps is better at finding streets and addresses and giving useful directions than Google Maps, and I like the interface and display on my iPhone better. As Kirk mentioned, Google Maps knows the names of more locations, but is outdated slightly more often when businesses move or go out of business.

    With disappointing frequency, Google Maps gets a location wrong, for example, putting it on the wrong side of a barrier, such as an Interstate Highway. Sometimes, Apple Maps gives me the correct location, but often, it is wrong about the same location, as well. Are they cribbing the same inaccurate source? Neither app gives me the easy method that I dream of, to get and maintain an overview of the location and trip, and to figure out when the map is guiding me in the wrong direction.

    Critics sneer about drivers who blindly follow their GPS apps, but the apps don’t make it easy to do much else. I wish for an app that made it easier for me to “look around” and keep my route in context of the surrounding routes and locations.

  3. I’ve submitted corrections to both Google Maps and Apple Maps, and the corrections have shown up quickly. But in one specific case, a few weeks after I corrected the location of a landmark on my street, my correction to Google Maps was changed back to the previous incorrect location, on the next street over. The same thing happened with my next correction. It’s possible that some other local person was submitting incorrect corrections to my corrections, but I was surprised at the difficulty I had getting the correct data to “stick” in Google Maps.

    • It’s not impossible that some competing local business was trying to trick people into not finding the business they were looking for.

      • I hadn’t thought about the possibility of malicious misinformation, Kirk. That can be a problem with crowdsourcing. In the case I described above, the landmark is an equipment storage building for the volunteer fire department, so unless there is a secret, rival group of firefighters, I suspect that the changes didn’t spring from business competition.

  4. That is a bit strange, as I tried finding the location in Apple Maps and then searched for Pub. It returned the same three as you showed for Google Maps, with two listings for the Shakespeare Inn. Using “Pubs nearby” it didn’t display the Four Alls, so reentered the search, and it displayed all three. It actually showed four as it has two listings for the Shakespeare Inn with slightly different addresses.

    Perhaps somebody at Apple read this and fixed it.

    Last month I was driving in Sheffield using my iPhone 6 for directions, and my son tried the same destination on his Galaxy s5. The routes were the same, but Google Maps on the Galaxy had incorrect exit counts on a few roundabouts. I also found the instructions were less clear on the Galaxy. I am sure the software is out of date on his phone however.

    • That’s interesting; I just checked again, and it shows all three. And, yes, there are two for the Shakespeare Inn, one of which is on the wrong side of the street.

      In any case, this isn’t new. I see this all the time. Not the sudden fix – which is surprising – but the lack of appropriate information.

      We were in Birmingham once, going to a concert at Symphony Hall. For giggles, I asked my Apple Watch to give me directions from the hotel we were staying at. We were walking, and if I had followed the directions – pretty much a straight line – we wouldn’t have gotten there until the end of the concert. It wanted to send me way out of the way.

  5. It’s not just businesses that are missing from Apple apps: In Murcia city, in Spain, Apple just doesn’t have a great many of the street names; it knows some of the tram stops but not others. It also has an infuriating habit of finding a street name in some other city instead of saying it can’t find the one you want – if you are not paying close attention you can end up anywhere!

    Sadly, it’s not just Maps either: I had to switch to MS OneDrive instead of iCloud for photos (iCloud is too expensive), anything project related where you want all the project files on a single directory, anything from older apps like Indesign where Apple iCloud won’t store my files at all, Pages which was dumped down to make it work on iOS and you can’t mix portrait and landscape formats in a single document any more (obviously Apple don’t use Pages for financial documents with landscape tables or charts…

    More and more my Apple devices have foreign software in lieu of Apple’s core apps. Even Chrome is required because some sites just won’t work in Safari.

  6. Yes, Kirk, and you have never ever had any similar problems with Google maps. Which I’m my experience happen all the time. And lets forget the fact that creepy Eric Schmidt guy looking over your shoulder every time you use Google maps. Nah, Apple maps for me. I use it all the time in the UK when I go there. Never let me down.

    • That’s one reason why I would like to stop using Google Maps. I don’t like everything being recorded. But I’ve yet to have any problems with Google Maps not finding things I know are there. Nor any problems with directions.

  7. I use Apple Maps as my default. I find it more reliable than Google Maps at getting me to the right intersection/location. But where Apple Maps fails most often for me is in knowing exactly what part of the mall or complex to enter at. It’s no good getting me there when you can’t get me into an entrance.

    That said, every time I try Google Maps I give it up within the span of the trip. I find it steers me just as wrong, but earlier, such as having me exit the freeway 30 miles before my destination.

    • Actually, I had an opposite situation in Maui. Google decided that my hotel was at the side of a major thoroughfare whereas Apple gave me excellent directions to get to the hotel.

      Which surprised me because, in my experience locally around southern California, it’s just the opposite.

  8. I’m in the US, in a suburb of Austin, Texas. In fact, the Austin Apple office is about 6 miles down a main road from my house. When I search for my house in Apple Maps, it shows another location with a similar(-ish) name about a mile away as the crow flies. (I’m on “Glacial Stream Lane,” Apple Maps finds “Glacial Pass Drive” instead. My street is residential, the other is commercial.)

    While it’s funny to open Apple Maps while sitting in my driveway and tap “Home,” then see that I’m 1.8 miles and 5 minutes drive time from home, it’s not funny when a delivery person calls and says “You didn’t give me the right address…”

    I’ve filed error message in Apple Maps, and I’ve had all my friends do it, too. So far, no change.

  9. Another reason why “Why Google Maps Is Better than Apple Maps”…

    Google tracks everything you do with Google Maps (just like they do with Google Search, Google Mail, etc.), so you will never feel “alone” knowing that Google knows about all of your latest (and past) searches and points of interest using Google Maps. And since Google shares (sells) this data with advertisers, they also know everything about you too.

    Now isn’t that more comforting than using Apple Maps, and feeling so “alone” due to Apple’s privacy policies? 🙄

  10. What I find annoying about all online maps is that what they show you depends critically on the zoom, and not always sanely or reproducibly within a session or from day to day. Virtually visit an area trying to see the towns, know there’s something missing, zoom in a little and you see some smaller ones but the bigger town names vanish, and disorientation sets in. Zoom in a little more, and maybe a bigger town name shows again but you lose the little town name, but see one store or hospital out of a handful in the town that you might or might not see if you zoom in far enough. And whatever rules there might be aren’t the same between street and satellite modes.

    In many cases (for me, most cases), it’s still paper maps for the win.

  11. It’s well over a month since a brand new bridge, the Queensferry Crossing, opened in Scotland and Apple Maps still doesn’t show it. It tries to direct traffic over a bridge that’s now closed to traffic. Google Maps showed it the very same day the bridge opened.

    Earlier in the year I travelled to the Scottish highlands. I had little choice but to use Google Maps as there’s large areas of no cell reception so I had to download the ‘area’ before I set out. Apple Maps doesn’t have that feature.

    I much prefer Apple Maps’ interface and UI, and would love to use it all the time. But there’s so many occasions where I need to fall back to Google’s offering.

  12. As a Brit, Google Maps irritates me in three ways: its use of feet for road distances (something that is NEVER done here – we are not Americans); its use of colours, which ignore British defaults (something I’m told is basically impossible to fix, despite Apple having done so); and the way in which it has absolutely no idea how a great deal of roundabouts function regarding the lane you should be in.

    However, those are minor issues compared to Apple Maps’s inability to actually find the most basic of locations, or to sort directions without you having to arse about for ages first.

  13. That’s odd. Sitting in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I navigated to Welford-on-Avon on Apple Maps and did a search for Pubs nearby. It popped up two — The Shakespeare and the Four Alls. But as I zoomed in, I noticed that the The Bell Inn was also present as a marker, but not highlighted. Methinks the fault lies in the machine learning, not the underlying data.

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