Google Maps vs other iOS map options

Google Maps vs Apple Maps update

Google Maps for iPhone is now available from the App Store, and those experiencing problems with Apple's built-in iOS 6 Maps app now have a free, proven alternative to use, complete with turn-by-turn navigation, Street View, and transit directions. So... how does the new Google Maps app stack up?

Up until iOS 6, the stock Maps app was powered by Google location data. With iOS 6, Apple dumped Google, licensed TomTom and others instead, and rebuilt an entirely new app with Flyover, turn-by-turn, vector tiles, and more. But the actual point of interest, routing, and general location didn't work very well, especially outside major U.S. cities. And it was a big problem for Apple and users both.

We've taken a look at a lot of mapping solutions for iOS from stock options to alternative paid options. Nokia also recently released Nokia HERE for iOS to give users yet another option. Many users are still very attached to Google Maps and for good reason. It's inarguably one of the most robust mapping solutions on any platform.

The new version of Google Maps for iOS comes with a lot of the features that users of older iOS versions are used to but adds some new features as well. The largest and most welcome addition is actual turn-by-turn directions complete with voice navigation. Once you've searched for a place to go you can easily enter turn-by-turn and voice navigation in one tap. You can cancel and resume at any time or view the entire route. Along the top you have the ability to quick view steps as well which will temporarily pause voice navigation. Once you're ready to resume, you can do so with one tap.

From the main voice navigation view you can slide upwards to view list details of the route. You can also mute voice navigation altogether if you'd like. If there were multiple routes found, you can view those and choose between them by tapping each individual one or swiping back and forth between given routes. This is a great feature for those times when there are detours on one route and you'd like to quickly go another way.

Unlike Apple Maps, you've also got transit directions which are much needed for anyone living in an area that heavily relies on public transit. For many, this was a deal breaker on iOS 6. Well, you've got the option back now and it functions almost the same way as it did under previous iOS versions of Google Maps. The overview of a location also gives you a nice Street View preview that you can tap on in order to view in more detail.

Users can sign into their Google account via the app in order to pull mapping information on any routes they've viewed from other Google Maps enabled devices. If you view driving directions on your Mac, they'll also be available for your iPhone so you don't have to re-enter them. You can also view a detailed history of routes and destinations under settings. These are things Google obviously was not able to offer as a native mapping solution in previous iterations.

Overall, Google Maps for iOS is a big jump forward in terms of functionality and usefulness. While many users were upset by Google data it being pulled from iO MapsS, it may not have been a bad thing. Free of their entanglement and tussles, both the built-in iOS 6 Maps and the new wholly-owned Google Maps apps are free to do what they want, as quickly as they want.

Google Maps for iOS is far closer in functionality to Google Maps for Android than ever before, and while it sucks it took so long to get to the App Store, it was worth the wait.

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Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 45 comments. Add yours.

Keldog says:

I, for one, am happy to have Google Maps back. Now, let's work on making it the default mapping application.

Obsidian71 says:

It's never going to be the default app. The Mapkit API that developers rely on is linking to the Apple Maps. Developers will probably employ a "Open in Google Maps" feature like they do with Chrome but by and large the majority of the populace will use the Apple mapping solution which is improving rapidly and is good enough for most people.

Vanti says:

As much asanti users would like to see that If you have been keeping up with apple you would know that, that will never happen, unless you JB

kch50428 says:

Meh. Google will serve as a back-up should both Navigon & iOS6 Maps app both crap out for whatever reason.

Obsidian71 says:

Yeah. I'm a Navigon user on an iPhone 4 and for the most part it's pretty solid as a paid GPS should be. That being said i'm glad the Google Maps are here so that some people will simply shut up about it.

emjayess says:

Strongly agree with kch50428

paleh0rse says:

It's too bad that Apple will probably never let you integrate the new GMaps app into Siri, Safari, Messages, or Mail... so I hope you enjoy copying/pasting addresses into the app every time you see an address in another app!

UndergroundWire says:

Sucks for the user. Not for Google. If it is a feature you heavily rely on, maybe that person should consider a better product.

mattmatt299 says:

Already got it - both Waze and StreetPilot on iOS are much better than google's app. And, unlike google they won't track and spy on the user.

iDavey says:

You mean the track and spy that a fair amount of service providers were caught doing? Not just Google? Oh.

And I have the option of turning off my location. On both my iPad and Nexus. Maybe people should learn to not just rely on trusting money hungry corporations. Just my suggestion.

9thWonder says:

they have voice search in google search. may be we see it in maps too down the road.

iDavey says:

Actually...Google has already stated that there are 2 API's that will allow other apps to open up in Google Maps. So as long as devs include it, which I'm sure they will, that won't be an issue outside of stock apps.

paleh0rse says:

Yes, but the problem is that the stock apps also happen to be the ones that are the most likely to provide the user with an address.

Safari, Siri, Mail, Messages, Contacts, etc. -- none of them will ever be able to feed an address directly to the Google Map app... and that's pretty lame.

One of the most powerful features in the Android OS is the ability to change/set the default app for any data type.

Why is Apple so damn scared to give users simple choices like these?

iDavey says:

And I do agree.
I think, just slightly, Google is banking on two things.

1.) That people will flock to their apps (or third party apps using their APIs) more frequently. Chrome, Gmail/Sparrow, Google+, that when they do get addresses, it will automatically open in Google Maps


2.) People will want the "superior" Maps app so badly that the extra steps to navigate somewhere will be worth the effort. So having to copy and paste then open will be worth the improved mapping.

If this will work will be the main question.

SpankyTim says:

I am not sure if it is just me but this is extremely laggy on my iPhone 4. Every time the app has to load more streets it lags (which is pretty much whenever I zoom in/out or move the view around).

woody88 says:

you're holding it wrong.

vinny jr says:

My sister who uses the I-Phone 5 and needs solid Navigation was about to go Android because of the loack of Google Maps. She is in heaven, she can have her cake and eat it. Thanks Google.

Obsidian71 says:

Navigation was never the issue of Apple Maps. The primary issue with Apple Maps has been

Lack of Transit information - for now
Map distortions - being fixed constantly
Points of Interest - Yelp wasn't delivering good enough info

If you need to navigate from A to B Apple Maps is fine.

monkeybrand says:

Not if point B is Mildura.

Jenna Jameson says:

It's your own fault if you are going to Mildura in the first place.

Apple maps works fine. Let it go.

sonar_chris says:

I'd really like to see the integration of Google maps with my contacts so that I could use the search bar in Google maps to get addresses of my contacts. I'm sure that will come in an update later though. I did read an article though about how Google made the API for maps available to third party app developers so that their apps can default to Google maps if it is installed.

paleh0rse says:

Not likely. Apple refuses to allow third-party apps to interact with their pre-installed apps, yet those happen to be the ones that are the most likely to provide the user with an address.

Safari, Siri, Mail, Messages, Contacts, etc. -- none of them will ever be able to feed an address directly to the Google Map app... and that's pretty lame.

One of the most powerful features in the Android OS is the ability to change/set the default app for any data type.

Why is Apple so damn scared to give users simple choices like these?

emjayess says:

I don't use google products due to their data mining/privacy violations and general awful designs, but I have to wonder: why is google so hot to create a new Maps app for iOS? Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that they want to mine our data/searches for marketing etc. Someone put it well when they said, "the product they're selling isn't the app, it's you" or something like that.

I don't see why folks who are sold on the Apple ecosystem and trust them are so eager to let google have their data. For what? A few bells and whistles you can get with more trusted companies and which will eventually show up in the iOS maps, anyway.

The mass migration to a company like google never ceases to amaze me. Although they've got the most comprehensive maps right now due to smartly developing it early with their sneaky cameras patrolling the world, I mean, overall, the products are not that good. My son had Android on a GSIII and now loves his iPhone 5 and integration with his Mac etc. Anyway, I just don't get why people let google do what they do with your data.

OK, Android fanboys, let me have it: what am I missing here?!

pappy53 says:

Don't you think that Apple uses your info for marketing, just as Google does?

Obsidian71 says:

Apple isn't a marketing company. They barely promote iAds.

pappy53 says:

But they do sell your info to others.

Dev from tipb says:

Apple's privacy policy on third party disclosure disagrees with you. Some quotes:

"At times Apple may make certain personal information available to strategic partners that work with Apple to provide products and services, or that help Apple market to customers. "

"Apple shares personal information with companies who provide services such as information processing, extending credit, fulfilling customer orders, delivering products to you, managing and enhancing customer data, providing customer service, assessing your interest in our products and services, and conducting customer research or satisfaction surveys. These companies are obligated to protect your information and may be located wherever Apple operates"

9thWonder says:

has nothing to do with Android fanboys. it's that a vast number of people already use google products outside of android, like gmail specifically. And they've used it for almost a decade. But people use Google to search. They use google maps. Bottom line. Most people are not paranoid and don't care about that stuff.

richard_rsp says:

Exactly. I am no Android fanboy; i'm a Mac user with iPhone 5 and iPad mini, but I am glad to see Google Maps back. As 9thWonder said, I am someone who uses Google as my main search engine, Gmail as my primary email account, Chrome as my main search browser (with my work PC), and Google Maps as my main way to look up directions. I also live in a large town in a rural area; there are Points-of-interest that aren't shown on some mapping options, but are covered in Google maps. When I want a mapping app, THE MOST important thing is that it WORKS. And if I have to let Google know where I shop in order to get a product that will find what I need, then that's fine with me.

9thWonder says:

I use an iphone. but i use google for somethings, other services for others like firefox or skydrive. I'm comfortable with what they do and haven't had any problems. And i think a lot of other people are which is why gmail is still really popular and why people still use google to search.

GeniusUnleashed says:

Data mining is a great thing. I think people don't understand how the FUTURE will work. Machines can't make our lives easier if they don't know what we want or what we need at that moment in time. They learn this by data mining. It's why Gmail's spam box is so damn good, it watches my behavior to figure out what I need so I don't have to sift through spam. Google Now will is revolutionizing what a phone will able to help me achieve. Siri dipped her toe in the pool, Google dove in. Hopefully Apple's next iteration will surpass Google Now. Apple is never been better than when it goes toe-to-toe with someone. First it was Microsoft, now it's Android. Competition makes our products better, faster and more intuitive.

Dev from tipb says:

Obviously, different people have different experiences, but I have been pleasantly surprised by Apple Maps directions in my area, provided I give it an exact street address.

However, Google Maps kicks the ever-loving crap out of Apple Maps for location and point of interest search. Apple Maps consistently finds worse results -- either less, less relevant, or just plain wrong. Fair or not, after the first time it pointed me to a place that had been out of business for years, I stopped trusting it as a data source. I'll check back often, but, since interest search is one of my primary uses for maps on my phone, Google Maps works much better for me.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I'm with you. I know there ARE users that have legitimate issues but we haven't had any issues with iOS 6 Maps. So far I've used it in the Chicago area, northwest Indiana (it even got old haggard country roads correctly and rerouted accurately), and in the middle of Ohio where I was surprised to even have cell reception. Some of my colleagues have had several issues in their areas though. I think it's heavily dependent upon your location.

Dev from tipb says:

Don't get me wrong -- I still think Apple Maps was a step back, and I am going to use Google Maps primarily going forward -- just that my neck of the woods has not been plagued with the type of problems reported in the news/blogs.

erjennin says:

Hey Allyson, you live in Rochester Hills? I go to school at Oakland U. Nice to see some MI love.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I actually don't, I'm in Chicago area but one of our Pod Drop stores is in downtown Rochester :)

9thWonder says:

Google's big strengths in the maps area is their data, including street view images, and transit info. Parts of ios maps looks nice but for many that's just not the most important thing. Like flyover is fine but not something i'll use. It's eyecandy. But streetview i've used often to see where i'm going. There is the other problem with ios navigation that it drains my entire battery in less then an hour. Waze doesn't do that so for me ios maps navigation is basically unusable as once i get somewhere my phone is dead and it surely wouldn't last a long drive. we'll see how google navigation does. Regardless i got a garmin in my car and waze does the job in a pinch.

i think they are both nice. Apple needs to catch up on features and data.

johngirolamo says:

I am a huge Apple fan, but...why can Google maps give us spoken turn by turn directions, but Apple maps only has spoken turn by turn for select devices? Why can't I choose a default maps app? This way contact and other addresses will use the maps app that I want.

Obsidian71 says:

Because mapping is highly complex and there are many ways to view the data and layers of points (Points of interest, pushpins, etc). If i'm a developer integrating Mapping technology I need to know the feature-set of the app. If Apple simply makes it an end user choice for maps i've got to dumb my app down to the most common denominator feature so that I can ensure a consistent experience across all devices.

Dev from tipb says:

Not really. Apple could define an interface contract that any Maps provider would have to fulfill in order to be selectable as a default. You, as an App Developer, would only be able to choose from Apps that meet Apple's contract. I cannot see any reason why Apple would do that, because defining such a contract would do nothing but restrict their range of options. But they could do it.

Dev from tipb says:

Regarding spoken turn-by-turn, it is different motivations. Google's business model depends on lots of eyeballs, so it is well worth the effort for them to craft software that can run on older hardware, despite the extra cost in engineering skill and man-hours. Apple's business model depends on selling new hardware, so, while they have the engineering talent, it makes little sense for them to expend that extra effort when, if anything, it will hurt short-term sales.

And I'd love to be able to set defaults for common apps, but that's not going to happen without jailbreaking anytime soon for similar reasons -- there is no benefit to Apple to allow it.

Jaguarr40 says:

As usual Ally a job well done reviewing apps. I just downloaded the app today and because of you am pretty proficient using it.

Thanks again

ShaneBunting says:

I do prefer the Apple 'app', but data is a problem sadly. Search isn't recognising streets, which if I find manually Are there. But I don't blame Apple for ditching Google, they only have that data so people will pay them to advertise..