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Should you use Google Maps or Apple Maps?

Key Takeaways

  • Google Maps is more widely available on both iOS and Android, making it a better option.
  • Both Google Maps and Apple Maps are even in terms of navigation functions and step-by-step directions.
  • Apple Maps has slight advantages in business features and user interface, but the choice ultimately depends on personal preference.


Google Maps and Apple Maps may seem like a very one-sided rivalry on paper. After all, Google Maps has the advantage of being baked into the most widely-used search engine in existence. Google Maps also didn’t have the same sort of infamously terrible launch that Apple Maps had.

However, the comparison between both navigation apps is a little more nuanced than you might initially think. Despite still having some stink attached to it from its dismal launch, Apple Maps has come a long way, especially in recent years. So is one actually definitively better than the other?

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Google Maps isn’t tied to any platform

Apple Maps isn’t available outside of Apple devices

Google Maps with London journey planned


One of the most important considerations when comparing Google Maps and Apple Maps is whether you can actually use either of them on your devices. This may seem trivial in theory, but in practice, you may not be surprised to learn that Apple Maps isn’t available outside of Apple devices.

With just that knowledge alone, there’s no competition here unless you have an iPhone or other Apple product to actually use Apple Maps. No matter how great any features of Apple Maps can potentially be, Google Maps’ availability across iOS and Android makes it the far better option.

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Both apps get you from A to B

Basic navigation is solid on Google Maps and Apple Maps

apple-maps-vs-google-maps-navigation-view-1


There are a few major functions that a maps service aims to fulfill. The most prominent of those features is actual navigation. You may have a negative impression of Apple Maps’ navigation based on its disastrous launch in 2012, but it has been over a decade since then. In that time Apple has improved its maps service in many ways, but can it match up to Google?

Across both services, both tend to recommend the same set of routes to get from point A to point B. The times each service estimates varies, but Google Maps tends to guess lower times in my experience. One other interesting detail is that Apple Maps and Google Maps tend to suggest a different route as the fastest route available. If both services tell you the same two routes to get somewhere, they’re likely to disagree on which is better. As for which route will actually be faster, your mileage will vary.

As for taking step-by-step directions, both apps tend to be even in terms of being clear and simple to understand. For the basic function of navigating somewhere, both apps are on par with one another.

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Apple has a pleasant business experience

For example, you can message businesses via iMessage

Aside from actually using your map app as a map, it’s likely you also use it to figure out the location and hours of certain businesses in your area. You also may use it to quickly get the phone numbers of businesses you’re looking to call. The question is, is it really possible to be better at this? Surprisingly, yes.

While both apps function largely the same, Apple Maps has just a few features that make it much more intuitive on the user side. One such feature is getting a hold of a business. With Apple Maps, select businesses can be messaged through iMessage. Additionally, when a business is called through Apple Maps, its number will be labeled in your call log as that business.


Both apps allow for viewing photos, hours, and reviews for any given business. With reviews, in particular, Google’s pool draws from Google users while Apple’s draws from Yelp. While finding info on a business can be a simple task, Apple Maps makes the experience just slightly more pleasant.

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Both apps look nice and are easy to use

Neck-and-neck UIs

Google Maps

Isaac Mehegan on Unsplash

Across any app, one of the most essential details is presentation. Does an app look nice and is it easy to use? Those considerations are even more essential to bear in mind in a map app, where a slight error from shaky design can add hours to a road trip.

Thankfully, both apps are for the most part neck-and-neck in this regard. Apple Maps’ UI is a little cleaner, but Google Maps’ UI is an absolute wealth of information. Both apps tend to display information in mostly the same way, with slightly different color schemes. For example, Google Maps has a slightly better contrast between certain map items. Meanwhile, Apple Maps offers a fully 3D-rendered map view. When it comes down to presentation, the choice between Google Maps and Apple Maps will mostly come down to personal taste.


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Which is better: Google Maps or Apple Maps?

They’re equal (but at least try Apple Maps if you have an iPhone)

Google Maps

Apple Maps tips and tricks: 14 useful things to get the most out of maps photo 5

For the vast majority of uses and needs, both Google Maps and Apple Maps are equal. So which should you use? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Apple’s offering is really great, but will only work out for you if you have an iPhone. If you have an iPhone, give Apple Maps a try before rushing to the App Store to download Google Maps.

As with many of Apple’s products, Apple Maps works great if you’re already entrenched in Apple’s ecosystem. Meanwhile, if you’re on Android, you don’t have much of a choice but to use Google Maps. While it may seem cliche, this choice really will come down to what phone you carry. Both have distinct positives, and neither is truly a bad choice.

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