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 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.

  • While I'm ignorant on this matter, I don't like how Google limits 100000 apis a day. Think of that what you will.
  • 100000 api limit is for free accounts, if you pay you can have unlimited...they want to make money if you are a big player...
  • I'm also ignorant to this, But I at least read the article and did my research. Tried understandability better. Perhaps Google is limiting things because Apple is trying to sever all ties? Hmmmmm...
  • The API limit probably has nothing to do with Apple, but exists so that Google can maintain a certain quality of service while they do not know the level of demand they have to satisfy. Likely they will also use it to encourage (or force, for the cynical) the *really* successful users to enter into official relationships with Google.
  • Like what the previous reply said it doesn't have anything to do with Apple in this case. This is just something to ensure quality control and create relationships with apps which see better success. Don't see why you thought it had to do with Apple?
  • I am also ignorant to this. Although I did read the article and did research to hopefully understand things better. I think that Google is having limitations on things due to the fact that Apple is trying their best to sever all ties with the Internet giant. Hmmmmm....
  • Interesting.
  • Which one can be used on more handsets so will ALWAYS have a larger user-base?
  • As a dev, I'm more likely to integrate Apple maps into one of my apps.
  • I'm actually the opposite haha. But different strokes for different folks. I feel the accuracy and reliability should take precedence for customer satisfaction than simply making it easier for me and since Apple Maps hasn't had enough time to prove themselves in places outside of the US I would certainly trust Google more for now and choose them as a dev. But like I said this is just me and devs, like customers, are different and have preferences.
  • To be honest Apple maps have gone a long way since the introduction, and Google's turn by turn navigation isn't supported in most countries, and Apple is. So I choose Apple maps.
  • I've only used Apple Maps a few times, all while in big North American cities. So far I have not experienced the horror stories you see posted on the web concerning Apple Maps.
  • Google all the way. Apples maps still don't have all the locations/streets in Scotland :-( tried to find a place in Clydebank & Maps was like nup can't find it :-/ google maps found it in seconds. I'm IOS 6.1.2 so the latest maps.
  • i think google would be easier. google is more open and easier to work with
  • I'm lost, but it's interesting to hear what the developers have to say.
  • Most of the maps features aren't available in India so i'm inclined more towards google maps but when apple makes all the features available here Apple Maps FTW!!!
  • Still don't know why apple doesn't partner with Garmin as well as those they have partnered with to vastly improve maps. So for me will stick with a stand alone GPS that can be updated and has the best mapping for the money and for accuracy