Google Maps' triumphant return to the iPhone exposes just how bad Apple's app really is.
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Google published a new mapping and navigation application for Apple's iPhone this week. The app arrives three months after Apple booted Google Maps from iOS 6 over its lack of voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Google and Apple were unable to agree on the feature, so Apple dropped Google Maps.
Since then, Apple has suffered a lot of embarrassment over its replacement service, called Apple Maps. In fact, earlier this week an Australian police department warned motorists to use something other than Apple Maps due to its inaccuracies. (It appears Apple Maps was misdirecting people into the middle of the desert.) Your app really has to stink for a police department to warn against its use.
The new Google Maps for iPhone app includes voice-guided navigation and much, much more. Here are five features of the new Google-developed mapping application that trounce what Apple offers.
There might not be a quantitative way to measure this, but Google Maps is much faster than Apple Maps. The speed is most obvious when rendering maps. Google Maps was able to render a close-up 3-D model of Manhattan faster than Apple was able to draw a 2-D map of the same area. Google Maps also is faster at configuring routes and driving directions, and it is faster to pan around maps and zoom in close. The speed of Google Maps is impressive.
Apple Maps doesn't offer mass transit directions. If you choose the little subway icon at the top of the screen within Apple Maps and attempt to find a route between two places, it doesn't work. Instead, it suggests mapping app alternatives from the App Store. The top suggestion is -- you guessed it -- Google Maps. Using Google Maps, finding train, bus or subway directions is a breeze.
Apple is working hard to fill in the gaps of Apple Maps, but Google outguns it with ease when it comes to the finer details. Case in point: Apple's satellite image of my house was clearly taken before 2006, the year I had a fence installed along the edge of my driveway. The fence does not appear in Apple's picture of my house. It does in Google Maps. In fact, Google Maps' satellite imagery is from 2009 or later. How do I know? I had a big tree removed from my back yard in 2009. The tree is not present in Google Maps' image of my house. These are small, mostly insignificant details of one location. They could just as easily be of something more important, like a new highway overpass, or a new one-way street.
4. Street View.
When using Google Maps, if you want to see what an address looks like from the street, you use Street View. Google's Street View cars have been scouring the country for years. The result is rich imagery that allows people to get an idea of what an address or storefront or building looks like before they make the trip. Apple Maps does not offer Street View.
5. Desktop Map Syncing.
If you use Google Maps in your browser, you can easily save favorite places, routes, directions, addresses and more to your Google account. These places are then automatically available to Google Maps on the iPhone. This is an invaluable tool when you need to plot directions on one device and then use them on another. It also makes it easier to manage your mapping tasks.
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