Once upon a time Apple, the biggest tech company in the world, thought it could take on Google Maps and win. Apple fell flat on its face in what is now remembered as one of the biggest technology FUBARs of ALL time.
Apple took on the chin to be fair; the company wasn’t phased by the hammering its Maps application received. Or the constant jokes. Or the fact that it had to back track after users began to revolt and allow Google Maps back onto iPhones and iPads.
Instead Apple went away and worked on its software, making it better and more robust. And in the space of a few short years, Apple Maps is very much a viable alternative to Google Maps for iPhone users. When I use my iPhone I have no problem using Apple Maps — it gets me from A to B nicely, usually with very little hassle.
CNET is now reporting that Apple Maps is now three times more popular on iPhone than Google Maps. Now, first and foremost we must acknowledge that Apple kind of forces you to use Apple Maps, as Google’s service does not integrate with core aspects of iOS or Siri.
Still — three times the usage is impressive and, anecdotally speaking, I definitely use Apple Maps more than Google Maps on iOS. And not just because it is default, either. It is mostly because Apple Maps is just about as good as it needs to be now for basic, walking and driving navigation.
Another notable addition inside Maps via iOS 9 is support for Continuity and Handoff, whereby you can be looking at something on your MacBook or iPad and then switch to your iPhone and Handoff will take you to the exact spot you were at on the previous device. Handy if you’re looking for a place on your MacBook before leaving the house.
There are some features inside Apple Maps now that are actually better than what Google Maps offers. For instance, In New York, Maps uses the MTA's API to provide real-time transit information for a number of lines with support coming for more in the future. This also includes delays and incidents as well.
For me, though, CityMapper is still the KING of public transport and, generally, planning trips in and around London or New York. Still, it is nice to see Apple borrowing from the best in the business to further develop its navigation software.
Apple has also bought a bunch of smaller navigation companies during the past couple of years and these have now been observed into Apple Maps proper. The result is a more refined experience and new features being added all the time, such as Transit Model and Nearby which add in public transport travel route options and places of interest.
Siri now plays a deeper roll in Apple Maps too, and her deeper integration has made the software all the more useful in day to day practice.
Google Maps is still the biggest navigation app by a considerable margin, however, as it is available on both iOS and Android, whereas Apple Maps is solely available on iPhone.
Google is still the master, but the apprentice is learning fast.