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Apple maps: how Google lost when everyone thought it had won (theguardian.com)
137 points by r0h1n on Nov 11, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 181 comments

Apple maps has reached "good enough" for a large number of use cases. It's now "good enough" to use as a satellite navigation system for a car, "good enough" to give me walking directions to nearby major sites/roads, and "good enough" as a "I'm sure I'm nearly at X, where the heck is it?" recovery tool.

It still has a pretty useless database of locations. The listings for many shops/venues in my area are literally years (sometimes decades) out of date, even after I reported them back when iOS 6 was a beta. This is slowly improving, seemingly starting with locations that are commonly visited, but it's still not there. However, given that most of my use cases are "Enter post (ZIP) code, go there", this doesn't really matter. 90% of the time, Apple maps works fine, and there's no reason to use something else, especially when it's ad-laden.

Given that maps are not a core concern for Apple, I've always been surprised they've not just thrown money at improving open street maps. A few hundred million to setup an "OSM foundation" (or fund an existing one) could seriously help them (decent free mapping database to use), and hurt Google (major commercial advantage limited/eliminated). They could probably get MS onboard as well.

MS does help OSM quite a bit, primarily by providing access to Bing satellite images which can be used to trace over to create OSM data. They also hired the guy who started OSM for a while (though he left recently to go to Telenav)

And the OSM foundation does already exist:


> 90% of the time, Apple maps works fine, and there's no reason to use something else, especially when it's ad-laden.

Which maps are you talking about?

Google Maps on iOS. I wouldn't call it ad-laden, but it does have a habit of popping up a sponsored result precisely when I'm least interested in it.

Just in general, whilst helping OSM is a topic, they do have Amazon affiliate links that earn them about 5% on purchases but for some reason they don't make this obvious on their website


Hopefully I've thrown them about £50 over the past couple of years by bookmarking them as my link to Amazon.

During a recent trip to Europe I used OSM (via an offline app called MapsWithMe) way, way more than either Apple or Google maps. Their POI coverage in Europe is pretty good, and even covers things like ATMs and public restrooms.

OSM has - for some places at least - really good topographic data compared to Google maps:



And worryingly, Google has removed that layer entirely from their mobile application.

They've also removed the terrain layer from the 'new' desktop app. http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!searchin/maps/terrai...

Apple actually uses (or used?) Openstreetmap for some remote regions like afghanistan [1]. They also use openstreetmap for their internal problem report tool [2]. Also what I heard there was a big company which didn't want to be named that approached the openstreetmap foundation. I think the secrecy and licensing were the problems.

[1]: http://www.undispatch.com/how-afghan-mappers-punked-apple [2]: http://blog.openstreetmap.de/wp-uploads//2013/10/a2.png

I'm pretty certain that both Apple and Google regularly import some subset of the OSM data. I have done a bunch of Openstreetmap edits in northern NJ that have found their way into both maps.

Incidentally, if you have any, even mild, OCD tendencies, you might want to avoid Openstreetmap, haha. That new Id editor is dangerous.

Screw both Apple and Google.

People will say they support open-source via certain projects but the proof is in the pudding.

If they're using OSM data to cement one of their key platform apps, they need to donate money, lots of it, and be public about it.

Remember, as fanboys like to crow, Apple has $100 billion of cash lying around and Google's share price is sky high.

It's not that simple unfortunately. Both of those companies would basically have to agree to be collaborators rather than competitors. Both companies would probably have a bunch of pissed-off shareholders who didn't agree with the move (who are the people who actually own those companies; technically that money belongs to them). Both companies would also get punished by the stock market, which favors competitiveness over cooperation for obvious reasons, which in turn would hurt shareholders.

None of those things are intrinsically wrong or bad- if they weren't so competitive, they probably wouldn't have all that money in the first place, and as users we might not have any sort of maps at all on the Internet, or much lower-quality ones.

None of those things are intrinsically correct or good either, as users would surely benefit from that type of cooperation. It's just The Way It Is.

I wish the type of collaboration you describe could happen, and maybe it will some day. It's easy to anthropomorphize corporations as super rich individuals who sell stuff to people and aren't beholden to anyone, which is exactly what the tech press does most of the time, but the reality is way more complicated.

How is that legal? Openstreetmap has a share-alike license.

> Given that maps are not a core concern for Apple, I've always been surprised they've not just thrown money at improving open street maps

I'm surprised that you're surprised, It's not really typical for Apple to improve an open source solution instead of build and lock their own. Or am I unaware of Apple contributions here and there?

CUPS, Webkit, LLVM/Clang?

Isn't that a list of exceptions?

Apple is very sensitive about licenses, e.g. they've stopped updating OS X's GNU tools 6 years ago to avoid GPL v3.

OSM's ODBL is share-alike, so Apple probably didn't like having risk of share-alike apply to their proprietary data.

Isn't that a list of exceptions?

They are exceptions in the sense that most of their software is proprietary, but they're still important core components. They also distribute a couple hundred open source packages with OS X: http://www.apple.com/opensource/

Apple is very sensitive about licenses, e.g. they've stopped updating OS X's GNU tools 6 years ago to avoid GPL v3.

I only know what's reported here on HN, but they mostly seem sensitive about copyleft, not open source in general.

OSM's ODBL is share-alike, so Apple probably didn't like having risk of share-alike apply to their proprietary data.

But they do use OSM data: https://twitter.com/openstreetmap/statuses/19810151220183449...

Apple's use of OSM data dates from the days when the project was using the CC-BY-SA licence, whose share-alike is basically unenforceable for factual data. ODbL is more enforceable and Apple aren't using any ODbLed data, nor (as someone fairly closely connected with OSM) do I expect them to any time soon.

> Apple is very sensitive about licenses, e.g. they've stopped updating OS X's GNU tools 6 years ago to avoid GPL v3.

As they should be. The fact that they stopped updating because of GPL doesn't mean they don't support open source. Lot's of people will support MIT and BSD licenses, but not GPL3.

The two only reasons why a company would want to provide source code under MIT/BSD, but not under GPLv3 would be because of the patent grant, or because Apple want to partially maintain proprietary parts for themselves.

I.e either Apple want to sue people for using software technology which Apple themselves would distribute freely under an MIT/BSD license.

Or they do not want support open source projects with all the code related to those projects. I think this is the more likely culprit, which is in line with pornel comments that Apple probably didn't like having risk of share-alike apply to their proprietary data.

(Of course, if you are talking about distributing MIT/BSD software binaries vs GPLv3, all the other parts of GPLv3 need to be considered. This post only address the willingness to support open source projects with source code.)

Which companies, precisely, have embraced GPLv3 with open arms? Aside from those who do GPL/commercial dual licensing (where GPLv3 makes the commercial product comparatively more attractive due to the anti-tivoisation and patent clauses), I can't think of any.

IBM, HP, and Google all ships products with GPLv3.

AFAIK, GPL v3 is a poor example as it is not very commercial-friendly. Most companies that contribute to open source seem to favor the MIT and BSD licenses instead.

90% isn't good enough. I don't want to be directed to the wrong location even 10% of the time if there are better options available.

I wasn't referring to a 10% error rate, just a 90% "You can use Apple maps to solve this problem" rate. I've not had any significant error rate with my use cases for a while now.

The 10% use cases I was referring to are the "I want to find generic type of business in this area" case, and the "I need a street view of this" case, both of which are (for me) comparatively rare versus searching for a post-code or known address.

Evidently, it's good enough for over 100MM people.

People like my girlfriend who are either unaware of better alternatives or too lazy to look into it. It took me months to get her to download google maps, finally culminating in a small argument when apple maps sent us the wrong way in unfamiliar territory. Apple maps is far inferior.

People like my girlfriend who are either unaware of better alternatives or too lazy to look into it.

Isn't that the definition of "good enough"? If it were truly awful, then she'd be forced to look up an alternative, because it'd never work. So it must work well enough for her.

"[U]naware of better alternatives or too lazy to look into it" describes the vast majority of consumers. "Gullible and/or easily swayed by slick marketing" describes roughly the same set. That's why marketing works.

Ok, "when I know there are better options available"

I guess I was prompted to reply because I also installed Google Maps, but, like the 100MM+ people in this article, I never ever use it; I just tap the Apple Maps button, and I can't really think of a time where it screwed me.

These anecdotes about typing "20 Jay Street" and ending up at Niagara Falls are kind of silly. That's been my experience of all mapping applications, and, regardless of whether it happens more in Apple Maps (I'm sure it does!), the solution is so obvious I never even think about it; I just further qualify the address. "20 Jay Brooklyn" in Apple Maps, right next to a coffee roasting place near the bridge.

When it screws you, trust me you'll remember it.

That said, while I use Apple Maps for the vast majority of the time, for certain non-major/obvious addresses, I find myself double-checking in GMaps.

What's really frustrating is that it throws out any errors at all in major cities like SF!

I've had it direct me and friends a mile or two from the actual location, which is far enough to be really inconvenient but not obviously wrong.

This has everything to do with it being impossible to change the default maps app in iOS and nothing to do with the quality of Apple's maps (which is still very low in comparison to Google's). When you search for directions using Siri, it'll take you to Apple Maps. When you click on an address in another app, the same.

This is the same reason why Chrome won't be able to cement itself on iOS. If it weren't for iOS's minuscule market share, this would be justification for a major DoJ crackdown. They took MS to court just for setting a default browser - imagine what it would be like for Apple, which doesn't even let you change it.

The ability to set up contracts between apps at the OS level is my biggest feature wish list item for iOS. The jump in usefulness of the device would be similar to when Apple opened the App store after initially launching with web-apps only.

I can't see this ever happening. Apple's whole shtick is that they make decisions for the user.

Moreover, I don't think that average iOS users actually care. Most of them didn't even realize that Google Maps was replaced by an Apple equivalent. And when Apple Maps doesn't work correctly, they just accept that that's how things are - that's the sort of mentality that Apple cultivates in its users.

No, it isn't a function of Apple cultivating tech ignorance. Apple, Microsoft, and Google make user decisions all the time. It's that most people don't care. They buy a tech product and go about their day. That's the point of consumer technology - make it out of the box ready because most people don't think like us. Maps or Browser or whatever.

Joe User : "Huh, that's different" If it still works they go about their day.

Average Hacker News User: "Dammit, they moved the border padding 1 pixel to the left and the anti-aliasing on the font looks different when I look at it with a magnifying glass at 2 inches from my eyeball. I have to complain on my tech blogs right away about this travesty!"

> No, it isn't a function of Apple cultivating tech ignorance.

Strawman. I never used the word "ignorance." It's more like acceptance of things as they are.

> Joe User : "Huh, that's different" If it still works they go about their day.

> Average Hacker News User: "Dammit, they moved the border padding 1 pixel to the left and the anti-aliasing on the font looks different when I look at it with a magnifying glass at 2 inches from my eyeball. I have to complain on my tech blogs right away about this travesty!"

Reductio ad absurdum, and you totally missed my point. I'm not talking about situations where something has just changed, I'm talking about when something has changed such that it no longer works. In such a situation, Apple users tend to consider that acceptable, such as with Apple Maps or with antennagate. As long as that fruity logo is present, they'll buy just about anything.

XPC[1][2] is a private framework in iOS. I am hoping it will be made accessible before iOS 8 (unlikely).

[1] http://oleb.net/blog/2012/10/remote-view-controllers-in-ios-... [2] https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/MacOSX...

I was really disappointed to see it's still private in iOS7.

Same. I am curious to see what sort of marketing treatment the feature will get come iOS 8 (hopefully 7.X), as it potentially blurs the line between apps and could be confusing if used for deeper integration than presenting a modal.

Independent developers are doing a pretty decent job of this on their own with x-callback-url. Without Apple's buy-in, of course, it's not quite the same thing.

http://x-callback-url.com/ has the info.

Unfortunately this article shows that Apple has pretty good strategic reasons to never allow this.

Isn't this possible now? When I click a link in the Gmail app, it offers to open it in Chrome.

It needs to be done in each app, by bypassing the system web browser or maps support. So Google may support it in their apps, but Apple doesn't in the system apps like Siri, Contacts, etc.

Yea I was very pleasantly surprised to see this worked when I switched back to ios from android. It allows me to stay within the google maps, gmail, and chrome ecosystem most of the time.

But that's only from within the Google ecosystem. Click on on a link in a non-Google app and you won't see Chrome as an option.

Well, you actually _will_ in quite a lot of apps these days, which is really a symptom of the problem.

I think Google has an SDK to allow other developers to do this on iOS. Unfortunately I don't think many iOS developers know or care.

It is possible if the app has it's own URL scheme and other app knows about that. Let's say I make an app Foo which supports "foo://" and you make an app Bar. You can ask iOS does any app recognize "foo://" and if so, then open it.

So as it currently works on iOS you cannot say to OS: hey, I want to use this app for http, instead you check if there is an app that handles "googlechrome(s)" scheme, and if yes you can replace your http(s) in URI to googlechrome(s) and then it will open in Chrome instead of Mobile Safari.

> If it weren't for iOS's minuscule market share, this would be justification for a major DoJ crackdown

I wouldn't call a 40% market share (and growing) in the US, the area in which the DOJ has jurisdiction, minuscule.

(1) http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/11/05/apple-samsung-leng...

Yup. This is the only reason I would be counted as an Apple Maps user--the lack of intents in iOS. If I can copy and paste an address instead of tapping it I will, but if Apple Maps has to open I just copy the address out of it and paste it into Google Maps.

I can't recall the specific cases, but I do remember contemplating why nobody was cracking down on certain corporate entities in regard to anti-trust. To exaggerate wildly: there are laws that only apply to Microsoft. Possibly the law hasn't acknowledged that times have changed.

  > To exaggerate wildly: there are laws that only apply to
  > Microsoft.
Anyone interested enough to do some research already knows why.

Still, I have complaints about Google Maps on iOS (and they're blockers).

1.) You can't select a contact and find them on the map. This is just such a miss I can't imagine why it's not there. Very likely due to non-technical reasons, because it's one of the major reasons I use a map.

2.) No vector maps. Probably the same reason. Offline caching of bitmap data is ok, but offline vectors scale so much better (zooming them doesn't break the map). I've driven out of the country and with no data service Apple Maps does a way better job of caching my map data giving me a "good enough" view of where I need to go.

That said, Google Maps has way way better search, and with a jailbroken phone and the Google Maps default replacement thing it's pretty good, but even with those the two above reasons are why I stick with Apple Maps on iOS (if I can't find something I know is there I'll switch to gmaps).

Both of these are are not true. The search field uses your contacts as a data source (though perhaps it works because I have synced with Google, I can't be sure). The maps are vector.

> The maps are vector.

I guess I'm wrong about that then :). My assumption was based on the fact that when I traveled into areas with no data coverage, I distinctively remember Google Maps having great difficulty with cached map data, while Apple Maps didn't.

(In the hotel prior to driving I would load both maps and directions in both apps, "click through" the directions to give the apps a chance to cache the data, and then go on my way - if I dicked around in Google Maps it tended to just not show anything, or a very very fuzzy view of where I was, whereas Apple tended to show a low-precision (but clear) view of where I was.)

Contacts and history only work if you share them with Google. It refuses to use the local contact store.

What's the user experience around using the local contact store?

It seems to me Google Maps would have to preemptively request permission to access local contacts because it wouldn't know in advance if a particular search should match a contact. And some people might be confused by the unexpected request and not understand why contact search isn't working later (or be confused if they disabled Google Maps' contact access because they didn't make the connection).

I can certainly see how, from Google's perspective, it seems cleaner to use the contact store they know they have access to and is presumably the same one they'd use on other platforms - promoting consistency. Is that ideal for every user? Clearly not. But, in the spirit of the original article, it is probably the way to get contact search working with minimum friction for most users.

Right now, when you tap the search field, Google Maps shows me a message saying that I should log into my google account if I want to use contacts etc.; and my contacts are not synced with my google account anyway, so it would either fail silently to find them, or it would try to sync them - which would require asking for permission to access my local contacts anyway.

If it used local contacts and I had denied it access when it asked on the first startup, it could instead display a message saying so, offering a button to click to request access to contacts again. It would be strictly less complicated for the user.

Chrome also can't cement itself on Chrome because of the anticompetitive browser rules Apple baked into iOS approval policies. That's why Chrome on iOS isn't actually Chrome. It's just a Chrome UI on top of Mobile Safari renderrer with the faster JS engine disabled so Safari itself maintains better performance against all comers.

Ah interesting. That's why it crashes on exactly the same pages that Safari does then.

Yup. Google can't use their shiny new optimized Webkit fork Blink they use on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. They're stuck just using Safari without Nitro like all* other browsers on iOS.

* except Opera which was doing page rendering on a server farm in the cloud to get around the anti-competitive rules.

That DoJ case made no sense to me. Doesn't MS get to set a lot of default applications since you're using their OS? Why is the browser an exception?

This misses the point. The real problem was the question of whether Microsoft was using its position as a major software vendor to warp the web browser market in ways ultimately highly detrimental to user experience. The popular answer is probably 'yes', as a generation of web developers cry out in despair.

The problem is that by bundling this particular application, and by its behaviour with that application (ignoring standards etc.), Microsoft was able to massively distort the web market based on its monopoloy position rather than technical merit. This affected the development of the web for years afterwards - even to this day!

If you agree these problems existed (I don't think it's a controversial opinion...), then the conclusion is precisely that MS should not be able to set the default web browser, because allowing to do so would be ultimately more damaging than giving users a slightly poorer experience when they have to install their own. This is a quantitatively different situation to that of many other default apps, where MS neither wants nor tries to monopolistically dominate a a massive emerging market segment - but if they did, perhaps the same questions would come up again.

Edit: So I guess the summary would be yes, MS does get to set lots of default applications, but this is exactly what the case was about. Should they actually be allowed to do so? Even if sometimes it's okay, what about the times where this lets them dominate for reasons totally unrelated to technical superiority?

How long until we see some kinda law that forces Apple to prompt a user for which browser they would like to use when they first setup their iDevice?

Referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BrowserChoice.eu

How long? How about, when Apple controls 95% of the smartphone OS market? When Apple gets a license fee for every smartphone shipped, regardless of whether it runs that Apple OS?

Seriously, I get that a lot of people here don't like not being able to set the default map application on an iPhone, but to liken that to Microsoft's monopolistic behavior is preposterous.

I'll probably get down voted further, but I seriously don't understand the difference. How does market share change the decision? If MS had only 90% share would people have not been frustrated with IE and EU never have acted?

I'm honestly not trying to troll..

What’s not to understand?

They controlled > 95% of the market for personal computers. They then used that position, to try and force consumers to use their specific browser through various means. Because of their massive market share average consumers had very little alternative choice but to buy into microsoft’s system.

Probably when the iOS market share approaches 97.5%, like Microsoft's did right before the EU issued its decision[1].

So long as Google continues to offer Android as a $0 OS I honestly don't see that happening.

[1] http://www.wininsider.com/news/?2248

A bit off-topic, but the newest Google maps on the desktop is terrible; a massive step backwards in usability imho.

I suppose they were trying to simplify, but now I can't figure out how to send someone a pin, how to click on a pin, how to find things around a pin, etc.

I gave up and switched to Bing. First for maps, but then for everything, and it doesn't seem like I gave anything up; I guess wasn't as married to a search/map engine as I had previously thought.

I agree with other comments here, that on the phone, Apple maps is certainly "good enough".

The problem with the new Google Maps is that the interface is quite literally all over the place. Top-left, bottom-left, bottom-right, who the hell knows where anything is.

How do you view transit lines? It took me months to figure out that you could hover over the search box and click the blue Transit link. This is a hugely important feature to me, and it's hidden.

Just in the past few days they did finally add back the little orange peg-man as a Street View interface, which is a big improvement.

> How do you view transit lines? It took me months to figure out that you could hover over the search box and click the blue Transit link. This is a hugely important feature to me, and it's hidden.

To be fair the search box is expanded by default so the transit link is on the screen when you load maps. If you click the map the search box minimizes and you would have to either click it again or hover over.

Yeah it's terrible. One killer feature in the old interface was knowing where you could get a street view or not via the blue shaded areas. Now I have to click all over and wait for a street view option to show up...or not...under the search box. and when I do get a street view a big chunk of screen real estate is taken up with a useless photo reel I will never use, so I have to click "hide imagery" every. singe. time. The "Explore" tab at the bottom is a failure of an idea and I wish I could just disable it, except that's the only way I can get overhead imagery...which has nothing to do with the other random photos that are in the list. terrible

Between that, random crashiness all the time, and the lack of multiple waypoints it's virtually useless to me.

(recently I was planning a road trip with multiple waypoints and needed street view pictures of some of the locations, the new google maps was so absurdly bad for this that I had to switch back to the old interface)

edit I see they've finally brought back the street view blue outlines and they've allowed "explore" to go away without taking away Earth/Maps navigation AND multiple destinations (AT LAST). Now all I have to do is convince them to move the traffic overlay down to the same place as earth/maps so I don't have to hunt around the entire screen. It's better, but not perfect.

Google brought Pegman back. It's in the right bottom corner, near photo icons (photos are useless, I agree). You can grab it and drop wherever you want, like in good old days.

I'm with you regarding Bing as well. First I switched just to separate my searches from my Gmail account through more than just Google's goodwill configuration options. Since I switched, I've gotten at least $100 in free Amazon gift cards through their Bing Rewards program. I too label their search as "good enough".

What I want to know is when I open the new Google maps, how the hell do I enable traffic view? Where is it? The help points to clicking links that I do not see. This is the most important feature to me, I had to revert back to the old maps.

I think it's under one of those annoying expandable boxes on the right.

The new Google Maps on Android is terrible, as well. It's missing features, most notable of which is the ability to search for alternate routes when you hit traffic.

This may be location dependent, but yes alternate rerouting is not in real time, but when you ask for initial directions they give you the options of 3 different routes that do change according to traffic.

Waze is better for both of these use cases. Maybe Google will integrate more of its functionality over time, but for now (though I hate the look and feel) the routing and traffic info make it absolutely worthwhile.


this thread is indicating it is doing real time rerouting

I'm not even asking for automatic alternate routing. How about letting me switch to a better route manually, without exiting navigation?

I haven't switched to Bing, yet, but I agree that the new Google Maps is a step backwards. It appears that in an effort to simplify or streamline the interface they've succeeded in making it harder to use.

Apple maps is still a poor competitor to Google Maps.

Yesterday I went to the beer store( that is what it's called in Ontario). Being at a new house I used apple maps on my phone.

The first 3 results it showed had no beer store there. I finally found it using google maps.

And that's the beauty of comscore's metric. Spend 10 minutes dicking around with Apple maps, then 30 seconds in Google maps to find what you are looking for. Apple comes out way ahead, because their app is more engaging.

Your scenario isn't supported by ComScore's results, they state that the vast majority of iphone users aren't using google maps at all. From the article:

>ComScore's data suggests though that comparatively few iPhone owners actually take the trouble to use Google's maps

ComScore's data is great for advertisers, it gives user counts and time spent in the app.

It's pretty much worthless for determining how effective the app is at finding locations. My hyperbolic statement can't be justified by the data provided. Perhaps apple users spend their time looking up hundreds of locations and google users are only able to find one.

There's an obvious selection bias, and i don't know what the effect is. I'd claim smartphone users aren't all that different, they just want to look stuff up, and they'd look it up at comparable rates. If that's true, it takes apple maps users longer to find stuff.

I'm guessing that many Apple Maps users don't use Maps in that way, but more for finding a specific address. Personally, on my iPhone if I want to find a business I do it through Yelp, which comes with the added bonus of being integrated with Siri. You can ask for an itinerary from there and it shows it in Maps, it's all very easy as a workflow.

For example, living in Paris, if I want to go to the CNIT (a shopping centre located at La Defense), Apple Maps itself refuses to give me the address. But if I ask the Yelp app, it points me straight to it, and from there I click on a link and I have my itinerary in Maps.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the remaining flaws in Apple Maps are so easy to route around now that they just aren't much of an issue.

I look up specific addresses via Apple Maps, it still sucks.

Hell, let's try this right now. I'm sitting at work in Brooklyn. I just typed in "20 Jay St", the address of my building. Apple Maps has my location, this should be a piece of CAKE.

... And now I'm at "20 Main Tavern" near Plattsburg, NY, by the Canadian border.

I also just searched for my home address, which is a 5 minute subway ride away in Manhattan. I ended up at "3rd St & Baker Springs Rd" in Wickes, AK.

Or searching for "161 Canal" takes me to "161 Canal Lane" in Jackson, NJ, as opposed to the much more obvious "161 Canal Street" in Manhattan.

Apple Maps is full of nonsense, either searching via POI or via address, or via intersection. It's practically useless. At this point I'm pretty sure I need to memorize Lat/Long just to use this thing, or be absurdly specific every time I use it. "Empire State Building, the one in Manahttan, if you please"

Could be worse, I just typed a full home address in Miami and got a result in Australia...

The funny thing is, is that when you use Siri, Apple Maps seems to be more accurate. I can say, "Directions from home to 123 Main Street, Hometown" and the directions will be perfect.

If I type that same query out, I get "Directions Not Found." I don't get it.

There's a trick: append "nyc" to your addresses.

I gave up on Apple Maps, put it in a folder, and just use Google Maps. For me the killer is the lack of integrated transit - I live in Brooklyn.

My typical use case is: (1) look up an address. (2) see how long it would take to get there via subway/bus, (3) if that takes "too long", compare with how long it would take if I flagged a cab instead.

Using Apple Maps to get transit directions, I have to pick which transit app to use EVERY TIME - even though I always use the same one, there's no way to specify just use that one - which means extra clicks. Then if the available routes I get aren't great there's no way to jump back and check driving or walking directions instead for the same address, because to "jump back" would mean re-launching a different application that I just left and finding the address again.

I've had problems with Apple maps in Ontario too. I'm wondering if the performance versus Google Maps in Canada is different than the US.

I'm in Iceland, and Apple Maps just punts here. It can't find anything at all, and about 50% of the time, it doesn't even try. You just get a UIAlertView that says "No Results Found".

I did a comparison of about 30 sample lookups when it was brand new, and Google correctly responded to about 27 of them; Apple got two. I repeated the test about six months ago, and the only thing that had changed was that Google got one more right.

I'll bet that Apple Maps performs competitively around 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA (or in the Bay and Valley areas generally), but it's not like Apple has the equivalent of the Google Maps SUVs driving all around.

Why not? Apple can certainly afford to, and if they're serious about maps...

I never said that they couldn't afford to. I just said that they didn't. If Apple was serious about maps, then they wouldn't have partnered with Google in the first place. If it wasn't for Android, I'm sure that they would still be partnered with Google. Apple doing their own maps is just something that they need to complete the platform, not something they plan to put serious weight behind.

I always use Foursquare to find places and tap "Get Directions" to open up the location in Apple Maps. Pretty happy with this. Apple Maps can not find shit in my hometown by itself but it's pretty fine with strict addresses and navigation.

Headline is quite misleading. For one thing, it's only looking at numbers in the US. On a cursory search, I can't find numbers but I suspect that Google maps is available in more countries and used by more people worldwide than Apple maps.

Not to mention, the article assumes Apple wouldn't have attempted to develop its own app even if Google met all its needs. As we've seen previously, Apple's strategy has always been about controlling the user experience. IMHO, there's no way that Apple would've allowed Google maps to dominate its iOS users for much longer... regardless of this issue of navigation, etc. It would've just been something else as an excuse to move their users to their own platform.

I think Apple would have been okay with it if Google was willing to simply remain a maps data provider.

Google wanted more significant branding (which is fair enough), anything that takes control of the appearance out of Apple's hands is likely to be a deal-breaker.

really? I didn't think it was a branding thing at all, the way I understand it is that you have to pay royalties for every request and access to area's of the world.

an example of this not working is that; when Siri first launched it was unable to process requests for map lookups, or questions about local businesses (out of the US) because it would use google, and apple wouldn't pay for the expanded regions.

this is all in my head from a conversation years ago and might be wrong, but I'd be interested to know if anyone else had information.

There was a WSJ article from quite some time ago that went into a lot of detail about this (quoting sources from both sides).

Some of the relevant paragraphs:

> The two sides bickered over a Google Maps feature called Street View, which lets people see an actual photo as if they are standing in the street. Apple wanted to incorporate Street View on the iPhone just as Google already offered it for Android phones. Google initially withheld the feature, frustrating Apple executives, according to people on both sides of the debate.

> Apple executives also wanted to include Google's turn-by-turn-navigation service in the iPhone—a feature popular with Android users because it lets people treat their phones as in-car GPS devices. Google wouldn't allow it, according to people on both sides. One of these people said Google viewed Apple's terms as unfair.

> Google executives, meantime, also bristled at Apple's refusal to add features that would help Google. For instance, Google wanted to emphasize its brand name more prominently within the maps app. It also wanted Apple to enable its service designed to find friends nearby, dubbed Latitude, which Apple refrained from doing, said people on both sides.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230454390...

And Google Maps is used most than Apple Maps if you look at the entire US mobile market. So really, they were kicked off Apple iOS as the default mapping application and their iOS numbers dropped. And that's surprising to whom?

Also, it doesn't consider how many people bought an android phone instead of iphone because they heard that it had terrific turn-by-turn mapping and that Apple Maps isn't so good.

Of course it's going to shed users if it goes from being the default app to competing with the owner of the ecosystem.

No one expected Google to win any more than people expected Netscape to win when Microsoft decided to make a browser, because Microsoft can control the default. Once they allowed other browsers to usurp the default position (thanks, Justice Department!), the browser wars were back on.

Unfortunately, Apple is so far from a monopoly that iPhone users will never have the ability to choose their default maps, mail, calendar, camera, phone or music app.

I've been using Apple Maps since it was first released in iOS 6. I've reported countless problems but only 1 was ever fixed. Unlike with Google Maps, it seems there's no way for a business to register itself or otherwise contribute info. As such, Google Maps often has more information.

Apple Maps is, generally in my area, out of date and missing businesses and schools and unfortunately I don't see it getting better.

I find both Apple and Google unresponsive to user corrections. Since iOS released maps it has shown a hospital near me that has long been closed, demolished, and rebuilt as a retirement community. The hospital itself moved about 10 miles west to a different community, yet there it is on the map in all its pink glory.

In the course of a "google maps doesn't have these problems" discussion I pulled up Google maps, and lo and behold, it has the same problem.

Fast forward to the present and they both still show this long dead hospital despite me taking the time to send in corrections from time to time. For a long time the new location was trivially verifiable by following the map's own web link. Now that URL is dead, so it would require a quick search and a tiny bit of thought.

I hope no one relies on that information in an emergency to get someone to a hospital.

I reported two issues to Google Maps on a recent trip to Ireland and the UK, both have been fixed and I received followup emails from Google Maps on the issues.

These were reported via Google Maps on Android.

In addition to reporting problems, you can edit it yourself: https://maps.google.com/mapmaker -- faster turnaround.

I reported an issue to Google where they were routing traffic off a highway and down a two-track road that basically ends in the middle if you don't have a 4x4 truck, then back onto the highway at the next intersection. It took almost five years for Google to change their mapping directions to keep people on the highway. I got the county road commission to put up a sign saying the road was a dead end quicker than I got Google to change the map.

An anecdote, I know, but I'm just saying Google has these problems too. It's not just Apple.

Not sure if your location is covered by Google's Mapmaker.

For my location, I usually provide updates/corrections via Mapmaker; it goes through a community review process and shows up in the main Maps within a couple of months (at most).

I put in the request before MapMaker was available to the public, but I had to look that up because I'd never heard of MapMaker. Interesting technology, thanks!

I don't disagree that there's plenty that remains to be fixed on Apple maps in terms of location-data and business info for those locations. On the flip side, I've been waiting for Google to update the business hours for a business I work with for over two months despite submitting multiple requests for the correction. As far as Google is concerned, they're closed on Sundays.

This verges on nitpicking.

I have lost score on how many times Yelp has glaringly gotten business hours wrong, for hot restaurants in major neighborhoods.

This from a website whose whole purpose is to help customers find businesses.

Frankly, business hours are a some what tricky problem as it is purely up to the whim and fancy of the establishment, when it wants to stay open or when it wants to have reduced hours or when it wants to be closed for business.

I wish businesses and restaurants were required to maintain minimum standards of serviceability in this and many other regards.

The best way to register as a business on Apple Maps is to register on Yelp.

When Apple maps first launched, I submitted map corrections for several mistakes within a few minutes walk from my house. Years later, none of the errors have been fixed.

This does not change your point at all, but I did a double take at "years later" and had to check for myself. It was released in September of last year, so less than 14 months ago.

I'm probably in the minority here, but I really like the Maps desktop app in OS X Mavericks too.

The headline is a little dramatic. I don't know if Google "lost", surely they predicted this sort of situation when they chose not to renew their licensing deal with Apple.

Sometimes when I need a quick break at work, I'll pull up a fly-over in the Maps app and wander through a city. It is relaxing and pretty nifty.

It's called the "Internet Explorer" effect.

I'm not saying Apple Maps is as a bad product, but I think the basic reason for its adoption is the same,as the article mentions.

It's good enough for most people, and it's the default on the platform.

It's more like the latter day IE effect, as the first one involved giving away something for free (IE) that was previously available only for sale (Netscape).

Did anyone ever buy Netscape? Everyone I knew got it from their ISP or downloaded the "educational" version.

Google Maps doesn't remember your recent map searches and destinations unless you're signed in and have web history turned on. WTF? Why can't you remember a few hundred bytes worth of data just on my phone? I stopped using Google Maps because of that.

Apple Maps POI still sucks, but its navigation works better than Google Maps. I use Waze for when I need time-sensitive, accurate navigation.

> Apple Maps POI still sucks, but its navigation works better than Google Maps. I use Waze for when I need time-sensitive, accurate navigation.

To me it's impossible that POI information is terrible and navigation work better. Apple Maps can beautifully navigate you to the wrong place, but that's useless. Accurate information is the most important information by far for mapping and navigation.

It's not at all impossible! 1) Most navigation I do is to known addresses, not results of POI searches [e.g. friend's house], 2) most POI searches come back accurate, about 2/3rds for me, and by far the prevailing mode of POI failure is Apple Maps' inability to find the destination. If the destination is found, it's usually correct. But usually I also have enough context to validate whether the result is in the right area. If it's not, then I repeat the search in Google Maps, but still often choose to navigate with Apple Maps (or Waze).

Apple Maps is close to unusable in Warsaw, Poland, as well as other cities in Eastern Europe (Prague and Budapest come to mind). I celebrated the release of Google Maps for iOS6 and I've been a loyal user for a while. Every time I'm tossed into Apple Maps when it's embedded in an application, I'm confirmed in my judgement. Maybe it's a language issue? Bing Maps was thrust upon Facebook users when they had their falling out with Google a few years back. It made hot-linked addresses completely unusable for 2-3 years afterwards.

Apple Maps is equally unusable where I'm at (Colombia,) and Google's aren't perfect but are pretty good and getting better. I've even seen a few of their vehicles about. The weird bit is that the Google Maps iOS app isn't available in the country specific app store, so it's pretty difficult for the average person to obtain.

Seems like that article should include the word "Waze" somewhere in it.

I know a lot of iOS users who swear by it, because it has much better live traffic data, and Google purchased it earlier this year.

I suspect that some of the negative sentiment here on Apple Maps is because of the strong entrenchment in Google Maps and its ways, before Apple was around in that game. I actually happen to love Apple Maps, so much so that I've started to use the Mavericks app as well. It's definitely more visually nuanced and aesthetically pleasing. For where I live at (SF Bay Area), I've never experienced any major problems with routing or data - public transit is not my default use. The tight integration with Yelp adds to the comfort and familiarity as well.

> For where I live at (SF Bay Area), I've never experienced any major problems with routing or data

I think Bob's Discount Maps, Bait, and Tackle probably works fine in San Francisco. Outside the Bay Area, it's bad. Outside the US, you'd be better off with paper maps than Apple Maps -- they'll burn better when you're lost.

It would be highly surprising if either of the mapping solutions had inaccurate data for the SF Bay Area.

Apple might have worse maps, but they're much better an UI/UX than Google.

Want to save a bookmark to your friend's apartment in Google Maps like you used to be able to do? Good luck with that. Google has decided that locations can only be "starred" and not associated with a name.

Turn-by-turn navigation is also much better with Apple Maps. Upcoming turns are announced more often and at more convenient intervals. I hardly ever miss a turn when using Apple Maps, but I certainly cannot say the same for Google.

I still 'make the effort' to use google maps even though it would be easier to just use apple maps since like the article states, it's automatic and easy.

I do give apple maps a try, even recently, however _every_ time I use apple maps it gives me directions I know are inferior or it will put me near my destination but in an incredibly inconvenient spot.

For example: The other week I wanted to find a way to a train station, I used Siri and let it open up and plan via apple maps. It 'found' my destination and placed the map marker at the nearest possible spot (the map did not have the station lot or it's connecting road). The problem was that the closest spot was on the other side of the tracks with no way to cross except take a multi-mile detour.

Just the other day I had to make the same trip, this time I used google maps and not only did have the whole station complex on the map it correctly routed me to it.

I simply cannot trust apple maps. It may be easier to use via siri or safari links but if it wastes my time by giving me crap information than it really is not helping. A few seconds of copy and pasting addresses into google maps app or using it's built in search is well worth not having to worry about taking a forced apple detour.

Google didn't lose, they did exactly what they wanted to do. When iOS 6 was in development, Google refused to license turn by turn to Apple, forcing Apple to develop its own maps. Google did this to hamper Apple relative to Android in mapping, deciding that they were willing to lose tens of millions of iPhone map users to give Android another weapon.

With Android outselling iPhone 4 to 1, it's hard to say that they didn't achieve their objective.

Samsung is by far the most profitable company selling Android phones. As of July they had about twice the market of Apple for Smartphones, and they still made less money from it.

Apple sell a premium product at a premium price - market share doesn’t mean shit if your profit from each device sold is three fifths of fuck all.

Google doesn't really care about the profits made on Android phones -- they just want more Android out there since it feeds usage of Google services (such as Maps, Mail, and Search)

Pretty sure samsung and all the other Android device makers care about profits though.

I don't know if it's just me, but Maps.app always seems to give me turning instruction just a bit too late. Google Maps seems to give them 4 or 5 seconds earlier, giving me enough time to change lanes or otherwise prepare for the turn.

People are lazy - the default always wins.

Frequently ... but not always. See: Google Chrome as a desktop browser.

I feel as if half of Chrome "winning" is Google shoving it down everyone's throat across all their properties.

Google.com: Internet feeling slow, use Chrome! CHROME! GET CHROME! CHROME MAKES YOUR DIALUP FEEL LIKE FIBER!!!!!!!

Youtube: Video taking a long time to buffer, use Chrome!

Gmail: Want to use any of the value-added options (chat, video, etc), better use Chrome!

Shows what a massive effort it is to overcome a default setting.

What are you talking about? Worldwide Chrome, on desktop, has less market share than Explorer (which has about 60%) and firefox (which has always been a couple points over chrome).

It gained a lot of share, without doubt, but it's far from being the winner.



On the desktop, you can change the default browser. It's still a competitive advantage to be the default, but at least a user who wants to can make a one time change. On iOS, even people who would very much prefer a competitor end up using Apple's apps just because to avoid them means giving up on things like Siri, tapping links from emails, etc.

With Mavericks I see a lot of people around me going to Safari from Chrome. The main reason... battery life when on the plane. The few hours a week they need to use Safari and the fact they don't want to have to use more than one browser means it is now their default.

Google Chrome has a better user experience. If only Safari team can figure a way to depart from OS X integration and build something completely unique just like iTunes is.

The headline may seem misleading because almost everyone here thinks of "winning" as winning on technical merit and superiority. But the winning is due to iOS's strategy, as ill-tasting as it is to most people here, of locking down the system defaults.

From the OP:

> ComScore's data suggests though that comparatively few iPhone owners actually take the trouble to use Google's maps rather than Apple's - in part because Apple's maps are the default for any driving directions or map-related search on iOS 6 and above.

Obviously, Apple advocates would argue that this is a victory based on technical implementation...Apple Maps may not be the greatest, but the consistency of UI and behavior, in the long run, is better for users, so say the Apple advocates.

I use both an iPad and an Android...I'll likely never go back to an iPhone because the Google implementation of things is so much better...it's not just maps, but the keyboard...it's unbelievable how much better Swiftkey is than the iPad keyboard...I can hardly type on the iPad without making typos due to autocorrect, on SwiftKey, I can barely deliberately make typos.

And of course, iPhone users scoff at the idea of "having" to install a keyboard. And I'll give them some credit...the way that Android keeps asking me what I want to do with a link when I click it from an app (such as Twitter) can be annoying, because I'm the type of person who won't pick "keep this as default"...I say sincerely that it is a cognitive benefit when iOS just makes the choice for you. And I'm saying that as a technically-proficient person...for those who aren't, this lack of choice is probably an overall benefit to their happiness.

Couldn't agree more. Apple "won" because 20+M people were to lazy to find a better application or didn't know how and just kept what they were given. For the majority of iOS users that's how it works. You use what you are given and deal with it.

I installed Google Maps on the day of release & between the constant harassment re: signing in and ads... well... 'better' is definitely subjective.

I wonder if the drop in iOS users using maps, and the increase in Android users using maps might have something to do with the quality of the maps that iOS forces on you as a non-replaceable default? You might assume that some people (say, traveling salespeople) consider that one of the primary features of their phone and would happily switch if the usability/data/integration was better.

If this doesn't prove that Apple users will lap up whatever half-baked stuff Apple puts out, then nothing else does.

Locally we sometimes "go crwazy" and use Apple Maps to see how good the directions are to get to a named place. Sometimes it works but mostly we revert to a garmin or google maps :( (Live in Somerset, UK)

As an Android Google Maps user, the bigger issue for me is how terrible Google Maps 7.x.x is compared to 6.x.x. I've got my Nexus 4 set up to remain on 6.x.x indefinitely and fear of reverting Maps to 6.x.x on KitKat being a PITA is the reason I'm not planning on buying a Nexus 5 or any newer Android phone for the foreseeable future.

They are very slowly undoing some of the damage that the incredibly misguided earlier 7.x.x releases caused, but 6.x.x is still, by far, the superior app for now.

Google won in so many ways these past few years, but one of the biggest wins over Apple was ironically... in the interface.

Google introduced the flat interface in its website and pioneered it in Chrome. (Yes, IE had long ago been flat but it was ugly.) It even made the icon completely flat. Android had simple, flat designs. Apple had nice skeumorphism.

Then surprisingly both Microsof and Apple followed Google's design aesthetic! Except Google does it better. Take Apple for example ... I thought I'd never see the day when I'd aay Google's app interfaces are more consistent and beautiful than Apple's. But it's true. They have buttons that look beautiful when pressed, due to 3D hints. All their apps have the same consistent aesthetic. Since iOS7, the aame cannot be said of Apple's apps.

It makes Google's suite of apps a pleasure to use. And speaking of the suite side of Google, look at it:




These first two alone are the go to solutions for anyone who needs that stuff. Want to show maps? Use Google (maybe bing). Want to embed video or link to one? YouTube! (would you use vimeo on mobile?)

In short... Google is an indispensable part of everyone's mobile phone and can charge for its large integrations.

I have an Android, and my wife has an iPhone. Recently, my phone was dead, and my wife had to pull up directions for me on Apple Maps. For most of the ride, I had a very tough time with Apple Maps.

The biggest 3 problems for me with Apple Maps were that: 1) the map was zoomed in too far so I couldn't tell what turns were coming up; 2) as far as I could tell, there was no textual representation of how far I needed to go on the current road or which direction my next turn would be; 3) dragging the map is not a "thing" in Apple Maps. I like to be able to drag the map to look ahead at the route, and Apple just doesn't let you do that. You can only pivot around your current GPS position, and since you're already zoomed in too far, it doesn't help at all.

Apple may have "won" in the sense that they have claimed a lot of usage share, but from the perspective of a satisfied Google Maps user, I certainly feel like the end user has lost.

I have no idea how things are in iOS 7, but in the original version of maps that shipped with iOS 6, you press the "Overview" button at top right to be able to zoom around the whole map and the 3-lines symbol at bottom left to see the complete textual list of turn-by-turn directions. Have those options been removed?

Overview is in iOS7 and is exactly what the GP wants. Click the screen anywhere, then press Overview.

Ahh, thanks. Not as intuitive as just pinching/dragging, that's for sure!

Google [...] was kicked off the iPhone after it refused to give Apple access to its voice-driven turn-by-turn map navigation [...]

Er ... was that how it happened?


[Google] asked for in-app branding. Apple declined. It suggested adding Google Latitude [giving up the location data of Apple's users]. Again, Apple declined.

[...] having chosen Google as its original mapping partner, the iPhone maker was now in a position where an archrival was calling the shots on functionality important to the iOS maps feature set.

Everything they make says "Designed by Apple in California," not "Designed by Apple and a hundred other companies." Agree or disagree with the strategy, that is the reason they did their own maps.

> Everything they make says "Designed by Apple in California," not "Designed by Apple and a hundred other companies." Agree or disagree with the strategy, that is the reason they did their own maps.

What do you mean? The App Store is filled with apps designed by hundreds of other companies. Why is it different for maps?

I have quit iOS just after iOS 4 came out: it was much much slower than iOS 3 on my iPhone 3G without much in term of new features (no multitasking, no home screen wallpaper). Because of this I felt that Apple was pulling a Microsoft on its huge mobile user base, forcing them into planned obsolescence.

When I bought an Android phone I instantly fell in love with the concept of intents, where you can choose what app opens when you're click on an address, a URL, a link or open up a keyboard. It was then I realized that this was exactly what Microsoft had been convicted for and what Mac users were so vocal about in the nineties.

I still use a Mac, because I think that Windows is still prevalent enough that Apple is forced to keep it honest, but the moment they will break that point in mind- and market-share I'll be forced to migrate.

I tried the standalone Google Maps app on my iPhone after upgrading to iOS 6. I deleted it a few months later after it repeatedly gave me some BS error about the service not being available. This was on 3G and wifi. Googling for that error, I found people saying it would go away if I logged back into my Google account in the Google Maps app. No thank you, I don't want to have it periodically log me out and force me to log back in, which requires opening 1Password and typing my long-ass master password on my phone keyboard. That error kept it from showing any maps or directions. I opted to have sometimes-incorrect map data from Apple Maps rather than no map data at all from Google Maps.

If iOS ever completely dominates marketshare (probably unlikely since I think Android still outsells it globally), I would expect antitrust lawsuits to occur for Apple regarding iOS default programs. Much like Microsoft in the past.

Apple forcing users to use their map (or any) software is exactly why Google needed to give the android OS away for free. Google would of been screwed on mobile if they didnt push so hard with android.

My primary need in a maps app is to answer the question "how are the highways in my metro area?" Google Maps nails it and Apple Maps doesn't, it's that simple.

While everyone bashes the quality of the data in Apple's map app, what really makes it win for me is the perfect integration with everything else. I have to use Google Maps when I bike because it gives me biking direction, but since it's not fully integrated in the OS, often it doesn't give me the step by step directions unless I'm in the app or if the phone goes black.

I think that strategically, Apple would always have wanted its own Maps app. As the article states, it's a hugely valuable source of road traffic and other geo-related data.

The split was inevitable, and while Google may have accelerated the split, I don't think it's really a mistake on their part.

Opening Google Maps from Siri is tricky, and then the app crashes - often. You don't want your voice navigation app to silently crash when you're on the highway - you might not notice until you've missed your turnoff by twenty miles.

If apple maps have ruler and scale displayed, they are head and shoulders above the current incarnation of Android Google Maps. Which I found out two days ago give you absolutely no way of measuring a distance, even a rough guestimation.

Last time I used Google Maps on Android, the scale was an option you turned on in "Labs" in the menu. Is that no longer possible?

I was talking about the application - there is no Labs - just checked. So no ruler. Also the scale shows for just a second while zooming and then disappear.

Looks like the removed it in Maps 7.0 a couple months ago http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/07/12/whats-really-new-in-... I haven't used Android since then which explains my confusion

I'll start using Apple Maps when it can do transit directions. I live in the city; I don't need a car. Or know how to drive for that matter.

It sounds like Google Maps lost because Apple kicked them off iOS, not because Apple Maps is a viabl competitor.

And the fact Google Maps interface is awful and Apple maps has more useful contextual data.

Personally I used both Google Maps and Apple Maps to around navigate Australia in a mobile home recently. At times both maps where useless, but generally Google Maps was just awful.

Its been stated in this thread that Apple Maps is good enough, but the flip side is, in rural Australia at least, Google Maps just isn't good enough.

Higher market share percentage does not a win make.

A compromise in user experience is nothing but a loss for consumers.

If they bought out Foursquare... Oh my. Now there's an acquisition worth a billion.

For me, Google Maps's killer feature is still transit directions.


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