iPhone and iPad

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Is It Time to Switch?

Tim Brookes 13-07-2018

When Apple Maps first launched alongside iOS 6 in 2012, the service was incomplete, inaccurate, and at times comical. Over the past six years it has steadily improved, owing to much work by Apple and several acquisitions.


So is it finally time to jump ship from Google Maps to Apple Maps? In this article, we explore the differences and benefits of doing so from the perspective of an Apple user.

Note: Since Apple Maps is only available on Apple hardware, a platform-agnostic comparison wouldn’t be particularly useful.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Availability

Apple Maps Devices

Apple Maps is available on iOS, watchOS, and macOS devices. That includes the iPhone and iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac (running 10.11 El Capitan or later). There is no official browser version available, though you can use Apple Maps in your browser with a workaround How to Use Apple Maps Right in Your Browser Want to use Apple Maps online on your desktop PC? Here's how to access Apple Maps in a browser on any device. Read More .

Google Maps is available on just about every modern device, with dedicated apps for iOS and Android, wearables like the Apple Watch, and the original browser-based version on the web. Google also has a fully fledged atlas companion called Google Earth How to Use Google Earth in a Browser Google Earth is available as a desktop app and mobile app, but what if you want to use Google Earth in a browser? Read More , which uses much of the same data.


Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Business Models

While usability is important, it wouldn’t be fair to leave out the difference in the ways the two companies tackle privacy. This is largely due to the business models adopted by Apple and Google, which take completely different approaches.

Apple is a hardware company. It make money by selling hardware, and to a lesser extent, software. Google is a data company. The bulk of its profit comes from advertising, but also analytics. When you use one of its free services, Google uses the data it collects to make money from third parties.

iPhone X

As a result, when you use Apple Maps, much of the calculations and resulting data exist solely on your local device. Data that Apple collects uses non-identifying markers, which change as often as you re-launch the app. Apple only provides third parties (like ride-sharing apps) with the bare minimum they need to get the job done.


You can’t say the same for Google. When you sign into Maps and other Google products, your requests and data regarding your activities is tied to your account. This is convenient, but it allows the company to build a profile of you and your habits over time.

It’s a similar situation to how Google Feed and Siri compare Proactive Siri vs. Google Feed: How They Compare and Which Is Better Apple's Proactive Siri is a lot like Google's feed, but how do they differ? Let's compare these two proactive assistants. Read More .

Even when you use an app and aren’t signed in, Google attempts to use unique identifiers to share data between browsers, platforms, and devices. Again, much of this allows for convenient features such as serving you a product in your preferred language. It is also of benefit to third parties, though.

Google has built a business out of selling data and analytics to third parties. It does this to provide companies with insights into what led their customers to pick them, and how to target specific groups. It then sells them advertising.


You might be perfectly happy with the way Google does this, but you should still be aware. Read the Apple Maps privacy policy and Google privacy policy to know more.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Accuracy

Google Maps is used on a billion devices every month. There’s no way Apple can compete with the sheer volume of information that Google Maps has at its disposal How Does Google Maps Work? Google Maps is used by millions of people every day and you might be one of them, but how does it actually work and how does Google maintain its accuracy so well? Read More . Since Apple Maps is limited strictly to Apple devices, the pool of data is naturally much smaller.

Google bought satellite imaging company Skybox for $500 million with the aim of improving the accuracy of its mapping service. It also employs a huge number of staff to check and correct problems with the service. As a result, Google Maps is unsurprisingly the more accurate mapping solution.


Apple Maps has drastically improved since the embarrassing start it had back in 2012. Based on my own usage, I’d say that Apple Maps is “good enough” for everyday use, particularly built-up areas. Rural users may want to think twice, since this is where the bulk of the problems seem to arise.

Google integrates many points of interest with its own search listings. Apple Maps pulls from Yelp, The Weather Channel, Foursquare, and Tom Tom. Discovery of amenities has improved significantly, since Siri can now provide context-aware suggestions based on set criteria. Google does this too of course, with more data and frequent updates.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Platform Integration

One area where Apple Maps excels is its OS-level integrations. For example, you can effortlessly send a route wirelessly from your Mac to your iPhone in just a click. Siri support allows you to create a route simply by asking, and if you use your iOS Calendar for meetings and appointments, you’ll get traffic alerts and ETA announcements.

Extensions let you use ride sharing apps Uber and Lyft right in Maps, alongside OpenTable and Yelp integration. CarPlay, Apple’s in-car integration with iOS, lets you navigate using Apple Maps on your dashboard. Though iOS 12 opens up the possibility of Google Maps and Waze CarPlay support, the feature hasn’t materialized yet.

To enable or disable Maps extensions, head to Settings > Maps.

Apple Maps extensions

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Driving and Navigation

Both Google and Apple Maps offer walking, public transportation, and driving directions with turn-by-turn navigation. (Google also offers support for cyclists, which we’ll discuss a little later).

While driving, Google lets you fine-tune your journey with options like:

  • Playing navigation instructions via Bluetooth, or as a phone call.
  • Automatic or manual day/ight color schemes.
  • Avoiding highways, tolls, and ferries.
  • Traffic information, satellite view, and basic 3D buildings.
  • Parking detection to save your spot.

Apple Maps can match most of these features. You can avoid tolls and highways, but not ferries. Park detection is available at Settings > Maps. There’s an automatic night mode, though you can’t leave it on permanently. Navigation uses a 3D view for some cities, but support is thin on the ground outside of the US.

Google Maps frequently re-routes when it detects traffic issues. Since Google owns alternative driving app Waze Waze vs. Google Maps: Which App Will Navigate Home Faster Waze and Google Maps are both solid navigation apps, but which one is the best? Read More , its pool of traffic data is likely superior to Apple’s (which seems to rely on Tom Tom). I’ve never seen Apple Maps do this before—at least not in my city.

Both navigation modes have a bright and pleasing interface, though personally I prefer Apple’s approach. It seems easier for my eyes to follow, with higher-contrast colors and clearer instructions at the top of the screen. I also find Siri less jarring than Google’s assistant for turn-by-turn, but that’s probably because I’m used to Siri.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Public Transportation

Two features that can differ drastically depending on where you live are support for public transportation and bicycle routes. If you depend heavily on public transportation, you’ll likely pick the app that best integrates with your city’s infrastructure. The same is true if you’re a cyclist.

Where possible, both Apple and Google Maps have support for public transportation, including map overlays showing routes, service information for stops, and departure times. If all of the above is present, they’ll be able to route you to your destination using public transportation too.

While Apple Maps has no support for cycling, Google Maps has a filter dedicated to showing biking routes. This includes roads with bicycle lanes, dedicated paths, as well as quieter bicycle-friendly back streets.

Google Maps cycle map
Google Maps cycling view

The difference is massive, and it even works with turn-by-turn directions to favor bike-friendly routes. I use this feature frequently, and it’s about time Apple Maps embraced the fixie-riding hipsters that make up a decent portion of the iPhone’s user base.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Look and Feel

There’s isn’t a lot of difference between the two apps from a visual standpoint. Both feature regular vector maps and a satellite view, though Google also throws in a terrain view which makes it more suitable for some outdoor pursuits.

Google Street View

Arguably the biggest visual benefit for Google Maps users is Street View. The feature uses real-world photography to provide users with a look at the map from a more relatable perspective. It’s useful for providing context to addresses and locations, and helps users quickly visualize a point of interest.

While nowhere near as useful, Apple Maps features the 3D “flyover” view first introduced back in 2012. It’s a neat way of going on a virtual tour without ever leaving the house, but it’s ultimately a gimmick.

Apple Maps 3D Flyover

The last feature Google Maps offers users that Apple Maps doesn’t is offline mapping on iOS. Tap the menu button in the app, choose Offline Maps, and select an area to save to your device.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Why Not Both?

Google Maps is still the superior mapping solution, and it likely always will be. But Apple Maps is catching up, and even includes a few features that you might want to start taking advantage of.

Remember that much of this is subjective and will depend on where you live. If you a travel a lot, it makes sense to keep both around just in case!

If you stick with Google Maps, make sure you know the best Google Maps tips 13 Google Maps Tips for Smarter Navigation on Your iPhone Google Maps is a "communication tool" now. Let's look into the benefits – some new, and some old – which can help us make sense of the world around us. Read More to get better use out of it. And check out some alternative map services 6 Google Maps Alternatives and Why They Matter Google Maps isn't the only free map application on the web. These Google Maps alternatives bring useful features and helpful information to help you go around your world. Read More if you don’t care for either Apple Maps or Google Maps.

Related topics: Apple Maps, Google Maps, Maps.

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  1. Donnie Malick
    September 14, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    This is the first time I stumbled upon an Apple ad on your website, and since it's obvious now that you've sold out, it's also the last time I'm allowing you to appear in my feed.

    Readers.. we can stop this nonsense by just not visiting sellout websites anymore! It's that easy!

  2. Marc
    July 24, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    None of this is useful to me without default North UP while navigating like all other map apps. One feels like it's a video game while using. Maps are all printed in north up, all other features are negated without north up as a default.

  3. Raven
    February 20, 2019 at 3:52 am

    I am an avid apple user and a regular traveller. Must say Apple maps sucks from almost all aspects in comparison with Google maps even in 2019.

    This article feels very biased and an attempt to place Apple maps on/at par with Google's but nothing can be further from truth

  4. Dean
    February 8, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    If Google had the Apple Watch feedback notification I get when turning etc I’d likely use them exclusively.
    But I find the safety aspect of that feature a deal breaker as I travel in new cities about every week.

  5. Bob
    December 17, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    At leasy2 mistakes in this story. First, Google does not sell your data to advertisers. It uses your data to target ads, but advertisers only indicate what types of consumers it wants Google to target. The advertisers never see the data Google collects.

    Second, Maps doesn't rely on Waze users tlfor traffic data. Google collects location data from EVERY Android phone, even those that aren't using Maps or Waze. It has billions of inputs with which to calculate traffic speed.

  6. Jeffrey Hickman
    September 24, 2018 at 4:26 am

    Apple Maps sucks! I just tried to enter favorites into Apple Maps because my wife is traveling to Texas on a trip to visit family members. For starters, Apple Maps interface is terrible! It's not intuitive. Second, Apple Maps could not find an actual verified rural Texas address! I had to find a gas station 2 miles away as the closest address Apple Maps could find. Awful! Google is so far ahead of Apple in this arena it isn't even close! Apple should just capitulate to Google and use Google Maps!

  7. Yourt
    July 21, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    If you travel alot it is best to keep both apps...??
    Well, travelling tought me those apps rely on 4G/wifi/... and being connected. Google Maps now upports offlien navigation and expanded that to more than just cars (in 2017 I guess). Would that be because of Maps.me maybe? That's the one I used in Morocco, off the beaten tracks. And it worked like a charm. Even gave me extra info when I had a connection (or used my local SIM acquired and put in a spare iPhone 4s as hotspot distribution device). So, I agree on the conclusions, except for travelling. And Waze is a serious contender too, with realtime info.

  8. YourEvilTwin
    July 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Great article, except that the Platform Integration section doesn't explain that GMaps also has most (if not all) of the same features. For instance, you can create a route in any browser and as long as you're logged in, you can send it to your phone with a couple clicks. Google Assistant will create a route just by asking. Android will give you ETAs and reminders based on calendar entries. It mentions Apple's carplay but forgets to mention Android Auto.

    • Jair Martinez
      July 29, 2019 at 10:28 am


      Such a biased article. Apple maps is cool, I guess, but not nearly as useful as GMaps is; Nice try, though, writer.

  9. David
    July 14, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Google Maps is currently NOT supported on the Apple Watch.

  10. Jelle Vink
    July 14, 2018 at 8:02 am

    You van easily share Google Maps routes as well between devices, i.e. sending a route from your browser straight to your phone. Also ETAs to make it on time to the airport and such are fully integrated from Inbox trips and Google Assistant. The statement of lacking platform integration is inaccurate when using Google services on Android devices.