Apple MapKit vs. Google Maps SDK: Which one is better for developers?

In the post-iOS 6 world, developers now have a choice of using Apple's new MapKit to embed map tiles and location services in their app, or to use Google's newly separate Google Maps SDK along with Google's tiles and location services. Both have strengths and weaknesses, including design and data quality. To compare and contrast Apple and Google's offering, and after speaking with developers, Michael Grothaus at FastCompany reports:

McKinlay and Armstrong both say that after a full account, Apple’s MapKit is the first choice--especially if you’re a beginner. But that hasn’t stopped either of these developers from implementing Google Maps.

The gist seems to be that Apple's MapKit is easier to implement and offers better integration into iOS. However, the data quality can be problematic to the extent that it fuels bad reviews on the App Store.

So, if data quality is urgently important, or you require features beyond MapKit, Google's Maps SDK could be worth switching to. However, developers are limited to 100,000 API requests by users per day. That might sound like a lot, but each user action might make several API requests at once, eating into a developer’s daily quota. Additionally, unlike MapKit, the current Google Maps SDK doesn’t allow for overlays and gradient polylines, which apps like Armstrong’s Plane Finder uses to show the altitude of flights.

Where Google’s SDK does stand out is its search capabilities, which Armstrong says beats Apple’s hands down.

No easy answers to complex questions, unfortunately, but there's a wealth of information contained in the feature so check it out, and if you're working with maps in your app, let us know which service fits better with your apps, and why.

Source: FastCompany

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.