Apple Maps surprisingly wins three way shootout against Waze and Google Maps

Apple Maps surprisingly wins three way shootout against Waze and Google MapsPC Magazine’s John C. Dvorak has tested three mapping applications available for iPhone and very surprisingly the much maligned Apple Maps came out on top in the tests. The testers were Leo Laporte from TWiT who was using the Waze app, John C. Dvorak who had Google Maps and finally Glenn Rubenstein who had Apple Maps. They each set off with several missions, one of which was to find Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop headquarters.

Leo was using Waze, which he thinks is great. He was misdirected in one instance and took forever to get there. He got lost for unknown reasons at another target location. Overall, he—and Waze—came in third (and last).

Glenn, who actually inspired my idea for the test, was using Apple Maps, which he switched to after iOS 6 dumped Google Maps. "I don't have any trouble with it," he said. "It works fine." In fact, it worked better than Google. On one leg from the Apple facility to a shopping mall, Glenn beat me, though just barely. Leo was the laggard. But then from that location to a lunch spot, Glenn and I followed each other. Suddenly, Glenn jumped on to the freeway as Google Maps directed me through the city streets for a cut across town. At the time, this seemed like a better route, not to mention a more scenic one. But the long stoplights in Sunnyvale are dreadful. Glenn arrived at least five minutes ahead of me. I gave the nod to Apple and now wonder what the fuss was about.

Obviously this is not a scientific test however it is a real world test and shows that Apple Maps is really not as bad as it first appeared. In time it will improve and it is improving as every day goes by. It will be interesting to see how it develops when Apple announces iOS 7 in the coming months. I am sure it will be getting a lot of attention.

One funny thing to note from the three maps app shootout. Google Maps on the iPhone showed Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop in Street view from behind the building, looking at a bin store. Not sure if this is deliberate or a genuine mistake, what do you think?

Source: PC Magazine

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Reader comments

Apple Maps surprisingly wins three way shootout against Waze and Google Maps


It would be an embarrassment if Apple Maps can't find the Apple Campus and show how to get there don't you think?
Agreed, the test isn't scientific at all.
Test the three maps services to get location to some random place and see how it done.

"Obviously this is not a scientific test..." Yeah, you got that right.
I have no horse in this race, and I don't care who "won" this "test". Sorry if it sounds harsh, but this kind of article is the epitome of the bad sense of fanboism. It's lazy.

It would be embarrassing if any one of them couldn't find the apple campus or show how to get there. Unless the test was started from an apple employees house and said employee had programmed the fastest route into Apple Maps, I seriously doubt the location made a huge difference. But I agree, this is not scientific at all, it would be better to try out multiple random locations and test which ones consistently came out on top.

Couldn't agree more. A test on neutral ground would be much more compelling than testing Apple Maps around Cupertino or San Francisco. Makes no sense!

Im using my iphone 5 maps in work most nights, google maps are brilliant, it has helped me out big time, i always compare searches on both maps, but apple maps are terrible, i love the look of apple maps but sadly the data sucks. ( location dublin Ireland )

Attention ladies and gentlemen, Apple does not update the roads and stuff inside the app. That stuff comes from outside sources. Do you honestly think that Apple engineers know the very second a brand new paved road is open to public transit and instantly adds that road to the maps app?

You sir, are correct. I've lived in my home for six years, and Google Maps still doesn't have the street names right. It was just a few years ago that they still had roads running through buildings. Contacting the data owner didn't help.

The very day a road is opened to the public the true map companies know about it. Google in its infinite wisdom pays them for these updates. Apple doesn't know where my address is, and my house was only built in 1969 in a suburb of Akron Ohio. You know that little town Lebron James is from. You are very correct... Apple is failing us by not updating this information and amplifying the failures of this app. Kill it pay google and get me my native google maps back!!!!!

just wanted to chime in and say that this is false.

I learned very recently that my apartment complex did not build my sub Street at the same time as the rest. May have been some odd years ago that it was created and then tacked on to the rest of the complex. when I moved here last year, Google Maps couldn't figure that out at all. It kept directing me to the next street over which happened to share a similar name but was not anywhere close. If I were to ask for delivery from Pizza Hut, I ran into the same problem. Nobody could find my address easily except for UPS and FedEx.

a year later, after multiple reports to Google and others, it now works fine. But it took literally months to get it straightened out.

I have never seen what the big fuss was about in the first place. I have been using Apple Maps since launch and have never had any issue with it.

Uh if you challenge me to a driving contest to my house I will win because I know the way better than you.


It's nice to see Apple Maps vindicated in real-world testing like this. I believe every maps app will have good runs and bad runs, depending on the specific task assigned. In the end, which to use should be more a factor of how the user likes the specific features and interface. For instance, Apple Maps is elegant and simple, while a bit bright for nighttime use. Waze has social features that appeal to many. Google is familiar and great too. I can find something wrong with each but they are all far better than what I was using a few years ago.

Since the introduction of Apple Maps I have routinely compared Apple & Google (at first on desktop, then Google Maps on iPhone). For my searches, Apple Maps has failed about 50% of the time where Google Maps worked every time but one. Apple Maps has even been ridiculous enough to autocomplete & then not find the address!

Searching for one address, an Apple one, us not a fair comparison. You need to plug real addresses/searches in. A great comparison might be 100 locations in various locations.

My town label is still 100 miles off... Apple Maps still fails as far as I'm concerned! And yes - I've submitted error report... twice.

My towns label is about 50 miles west at a field in the middle of nowhere... I have also submitted this more than twice and so i just jailbroke got google maps and set it has default!

Apple never updates anything period.
I live in a city of almost a million people, and have submitted changes on several occasions for well over 60 items. Not one thing has been updated. The worst part is that they are serious errors that not only can cause traffic safety issues, but go as far as not allowing people to locate emergency services like hospitals. Completely unacceptable. The data set they are using for my metropolis is about 50 years old. Asinine. Completely asinine.

Based on the comments so far, I appear to be the only one who bothered to read the entire summary. They went to more places than just Apple headquarters.

If you aren't going to RTFA before you comment, at least have the common decency to RTFS.

I'm not an apple maps basher or anything, but I'd love to see them attempt a similar test in rural Georgia... I will use apple maps, but still have to rely on Google for POI and more accurate secondary roads.

Apple maps still don't know where half the Hydro Plants are in the Tennessee Valley and which side of the road businesses are on in Georgia/Tennessee. They got a VERY VERY VERY long way to go til they can even remotely claim victory. Using the home base for Apple and Google is dumb, test somewhere rural far away from home campus locations and you will find who has better mapping.

Just checked - Apple Maps still shows me living over 5 miles away from my real location. I submitted this as a problem to Apple from day 1 and it is still not working. The problem is that I live on a numbered Avenue with a West direction. My home shows up incorrectly as being located on West Mall (another street) - this error will occur for anyone who lives on 6 Avenue West, 7 Avenue West etc. Google maps can figure this out, but Apple can't. Too big an error for me to trust the app (and after half a year, it still hasn't been fixed).

The biggest problem with Apple Maps is there POI database is horribly incomplete and out-of-date. It's like they took TomTom Places from a few years ago. Even though they're linking to Yelp for reviews they're definitely not using Yelp's POIs as Yelp has way more in my area.

I haven't seen any improvement since the release. How hard can it be for Apple with so much cash to buy access to the full POI database from someone like Yelp or TripAdvisor?

I have rarely had a problem with directions on Apple Maps in my area if I give it an actual access -- the showstopping problems for me are all in Local Search. Apple Maps has on multiple occasions returned less results, bad locations, or business locations I know have been closed for years. Since my primary use case in Maps is looking for things whose address I might not yet know, I switched to Google Maps as soon as it was available. If/when Apple improves their location search capabilities, I will revisit.

Google maps has one handed zoom. This is an under-rated feature I think. I'm often on the subway, in the streets with my other hand carrying a bag, etc. One handed navigation is a must.

U have Apple maps, Garmin maps, Waze, and Google maps on my phone. I find I prefer Apple Maps then Garmin before anything else. I don;t have any trouble finding places and its faster and better looking. Anyone who uses Goggle Maps extesnivley over the years knows they are far from infallible.

I checked both the desktop & Google Maps on my iPhone and both do *not* show the dumpster at 1 Infinite Loop & show what I would expect. I don't know if they updated it or Google Maps on an Android phone shows something different.

Gonna have to throw the bullsh*t flag on this one!! I can tell you for a fact apple maps don't know there way around Columbus Ohio and surrounding areas. I use waze everyday and never have a problem. Some times I think where is it taking me it must be wrong and boom it knows a better route and saves time. I use google maps when I want to look for a building or certain area when I am not traveling. For me I would rate then exact opposite of this article. With google in the middle.

I'm not an iPhone owner, but I do have a very high level of confidence in Apple - confidence that if they really put their back (and their wallets) into it, they could have the undisputed best phone on the market. Maybe their philosophy will never jive with mine (two thumb typing, open OS, open file system), but I love their designs, hardware and, for the most part, their software as well.

Give me a phone with undisputed best maps, best voice control, best keyboard, best UI, best design - I'm there.

Oh, I'm impressed. all people from countries where English coverage is perfect, and where nobody's reliant on mass transport. What a shocker, it works fine for those driving cars. I guess all those 80% of people in Japan who rely on mass transit are SOL.

Good job with your scientific unbiased results. This is the REASON Apple didn't get it. A bunch of SoCal rich boys with their cars thinking "nobody uses the train in the modern world" ridiculously Amerocentric

I love how Apple maps looks (google maps looks great as well), as well as the lockscreen integration, but I stopped bothering to use it, because a considerable portion of the time (at least 1/4), locations that I search for cannot be found by apple maps, whereas about 98% of the time google maps has no issue. It simply is not worth my time to have try using it, and then have to switch to google maps anyways. Similar reason to why I stopped using Siri, it doesn't work consistently enough to warrant not ever bothering to use it. (For comparison: Pewaukee, WI here)

I would hope that Apple maps would work well in the Sunnyvale area. I have tried many times to see how Apple compares to Google and Garmin when I travel all over the US. It has been terrible. I have used Google maps for years on my old android phone and had to pick up Garmin when I purchased my Iphone5 since you can not do voice and data on Verizon I needed to use a stand alone. I have compared Garmin and Google and overall they are equal with each having their strengths.
It is going to take a lot more than Apple Maps performing well in Sunnyvale.

There are apps (cheaper than a Garmin) that don't use data at all, and offer turn by turn navigation. In fact, Garmin sells one.

I would have to claim that this "test" is very unscientific, as many others have. If you really want to test the three mapping services. Start the test in a place like Austin, TX or Albuquerque, NM or even St. Louis, MO. Someplace other than Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or New York.

I have tried using Waze and found it to be severely lacking due to the lack of users in my area. Google Maps has more issues in my area than Apple Maps, but there are places where the opposite is true.

Thankfully, since all of those apps are free, users can pick and choose one to find one that works best for their needs.

Come to Kuala Lumpur and use Apple Maps to locate my home. You'd end up nowhere. You'd end up in Timbuktu trying to locate Kuala Lumpur International Airport too. Who are they trying to kid? Google Maps tops for me!

Apple maps is not bad, at least the times I've used it it hasn't sent me into the desert :P
The reason I prefer Google Maps is because I can log onto Google Maps on the PC and setup my routes ahead of time and then have them show up in the device to navigate.
Waze has the social aspect where people report cops and construction so that is bonus in some cases. I've used all three, but for different reasons.

I have no doubt that the results were as written, but everyone's mileage may be different depending on many factors including where they are in the US (or the world) reception, and other factors like POI's. If Apple can get their maps app up to par with Google and others then great, but I carry several GPS apps on my phone, I never rely on just one.

Apple Maps still suck. In my city there are STILL misplaced pins, wrong addresses, and places that don't exist. I've reported these discrepancies months ago, and have they been fixed? No! Apple maps are crap.

My issue with Apple Maps isn't navigation, which it does wonderfully, it's having the common sense to realize that if I'm searching an address, I'm probably looking for the version of that address, or business whatever, that's closest to me, not something 1500-2500 miles away (which it tends to do). For quick searches I'm google mapping it, navigation in car, apple maps.

Apple maps work fine for me. I only use google maps to play around with street view. Most of the tales in here of getting lost sound made up anyway. Get off the hate bandwagon and get a life. I own a car so no need for public transit and I don't really need a map to tell me where restaurants and airports are in town mainly because i live here and i know where they are.

I am amazed to see noone defending Waze... I love it and use it daily. Waze is probably not the best way to find a place you have never been, but it is promoted as being a commuter's GPS. It routes me around problems on a regular basis. Their goal is to save commuters 5-10 minutes of driving time a day... that doesn't always happen, but when it does I am very greatful to be using it!

I have to disagree.

This test is only for USA.

Outside USA Apple Maps is still worthless. Take my example. I'm from India. Apple Maps is as useless as using a butter knife to cut meat.

Google Maps wins hands down.

The wheel was invented millennia ago and then refined. The road map of the world was photographed transposed to a digital map and sent into this world forty years ago and updated monthly since. Apple being apple thinks its way is better. Well since Steve ain't around anymore they are wrong. He wanted the ultimate best map system for the best mobile device, and he chose google maps for that. Now I had install the google map app that is limited to what my old google maps where. But amazingly this week I've had 4 addresses in my home town of Akron Ohio not come up as an address in apple maps. My garmin GPS found all of them. I haven't updated that since I've owned it. Four years ago. Apple maps is a failure you fired the guy in charge of it when it went public. Now time to fire the man. Or ride apple stock to the ground. Google maps. And the YouTube apps. Made these great iPhones. Now the droid wars are taking over. Only reason I have an iPhone 5 is my unlimited data plan is not transferable to a droid 4g. Apple stop holding us to a single button mouse. Wake up and give us what we are paying for.