Geocentric App Developers Compare Apple's MapKit and Google Maps SDK

FastCompany has released a detailed comparison of Apple's MapKit and Google Maps SDK after interviewing the developers behind two popular geocentric apps.

Lee Armstrong (Plane Finder) and Bryce McKinley (Tube Tamer), who are experienced with both mapping platforms, criticized Apple for focusing on flashy features over base functionality, but lauded the company for MapKit's performance, low cost, and overlay features.

Both developers noted that Google had superior location finding services, satellite imagery, and 3D support, pointing out that Apple's satellite imagery was often blurry, dark, and lacking in contrast.

The other issue is the way roads are drawn in the 'Hybrid' view. The Google SDK and, in fact, the Apple Maps app draw semi-transparent roads so that the street layout is marked, but you can still see the images underneath. In MapKit, the roads are drawn opaque, which means it's often pretty difficult to see much of the imagery.

mapkitvsmapssdk

Google maps shown at left; MapKit at Center; Apple’s Maps app at right.

The two did not shy away from pointing out the flaws with the Google Maps SDK, which include a limited Places API quota, slower performance, and the inability to add gradient polylines and chart overlays.

"Subjectively, the current version of the [Google] SDK does not perform as well as MapKit," McKinlay says. "GMSMapView's frame rate is capped at 30fps, which is lower than typical for iOS and results in a slight but noticeable 'jitter' effect when panning and zooming the map.

"We can't do some of our more advanced features in Plane Finder like gradient polylines, chart overlays, or smooth moving planes with animations," Armstrong says. "We have some complex tiled overlays in Plane Finder: These are aviation charts that actual pilots use. With the Google Maps SDK these tiled overlays are just not possible right now."

tiledoverlaysTiled overlays, which are not possible with Google Maps.

McKinlay and Armstrong both agreed that that each mapping solution has both benefits and downsides. Apple has guaranteed longevity, fewer bugs, and its MapKit is easier for beginners to pick up and use, but Google's maps are more complete, have better satellite imagery, and superior search capabilities.

Because of its ease of use and the included features, McKinlay has stuck with MapKit for Tube Tamer, but plans to switch over to Google Maps SDK when it has fewer limitations. Armstrong uses a dual mapping system, integrating both Google and Apple Maps into his Plane Finder app.

Both suggest that Apple's MapKit is the superior choice for beginning developers. The full in-depth comparison of Google Maps SDK and Apple's MapKit, which can be found here, is well worth reading.

Top Rated Comments

pgiguere1 Avatar
125 months ago
Might be a good idea to start the article by explaining quickly what MapKit is, and how it differs from Apple Maps.

From what I understand, it's an API that iOS developers can use to integrate mapping in their apps, but the comparison seems to imply Apple Maps doesn't use MapKit. Might be a good idea to elaborate on that part, as it might not be obvious for non-developers.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
somethingelsefl Avatar
125 months ago
Nope, and now don't I feel like a fool. :o

Sorry dude. **** day at work and just looking for an argument. :D

I think that's the first time I've ever seen someone admit that on the Internet. Good for you man. Maybe the MR forums aren't so bad after all.

----------

I like well-balanced articles like this one, especially ones that have a developer's perspective. I think that these types of developer-based articles give better insight to Apple's goals and the direction they are heading than "analyst numbers" and "supply chain" charts.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zaim2 Avatar
125 months ago
What is being cancelled is not JUST Reader as an app; what is being cancelled is the Reader API and the Reader service, as used by a large number of 3rd party apps.

To be fair it was an unofficial API which was scraped/backwards-engineered by third party developers. Google didn't explicitly offer it up for use.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
125 months ago
Did you actually read the article?

Nope, and now don't I feel like a fool. :o

Sorry dude. **** day at work and just looking for an argument. :D
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CJK Avatar
125 months ago
And yet you putting it in quotation marks implies that somebody other than you said that. :rolleyes:

Did you actually read the article?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Object-X Avatar
125 months ago
3D & heading control

Google's API allows you control the heading, MapKit forces you orient the map North. Google's API also allows you to display a map using the 3D perspective, not so with MapKit.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
tony blevins car

Apple Procurement VP Departs Company After Vulgar TikTok Comment

Thursday September 29, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of procurement, is set to depart the company after he made a crude comment about his profession in a recent TikTok video, reports Bloomberg. Blevins was in a video by TikTok creator Daniel Mac, who was doing a series on the jobs of people he spotted with expensive cars. After seeing Blevins in an expensive Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Mac asked Blevins what ...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky Removed From iOS App Store Ahead of Upcoming Shutdown

Wednesday September 28, 2022 4:27 pm PDT by
The Dark Sky weather app that's owned by Apple is no longer available for download in the U.S. App Store, suggesting that it has been removed ahead of schedule. Apple acquired Dark Sky back in March 2020 and has since incorporated elements of the app into the Weather app available on the iPhone (and soon, the iPad). Dark Sky remained available for purchase as a standalone weather app...
adaptive transparency airpods pro

iOS 16.1 Beta Brings Adaptive Transparency to Original AirPods Pro

Thursday September 29, 2022 1:08 pm PDT by
The third beta of iOS 16.1 that was released earlier this week expands the Adaptive Transparency feature introduced with the second-generation AirPods Pro to the original AirPods Pro. As noted on Reddit, first-generation AirPods Pro owners who also have the AirPods beta software will now see an "Adaptive Transparency" toggle in the AirPods section of the Settings app. The 5A304A beta...
tim cook malala

Tim Cook: Not Too Long From Now, You'll Wonder How You Led Your Life Without AR

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:26 am PDT by
Speaking at Università Degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Naples, Italy, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that not too long from today, people will wonder how they led a life without augmented reality, stressing the "profound" impact it will have on the not so distant future. At the university, Cook was awarded an Honorary Degree in Innovation and International Management and also sat down for a...
iPhone 15 to Switch From Lightning to USB C in 2023 feature sans arrow

Kuo: iPhone 14 Pro Max Popularity Could Lead to More Differentiation Between iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Wednesday September 28, 2022 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has seen high demand for the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, which could lead the company to further differentiate the next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple could add exclusive features to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in an effort to encourage more people to purchase the larger and more expensive device. Kuo last week said that Apple asked...
iOS 16 Wallpaper Spectrum Feature

Five Wallpaper Apps to Check Out for iOS 16's New Lock Screen Depth Effect

Thursday September 29, 2022 9:08 am PDT by
One of the biggest new features in iOS 16 is a completely redesigned iPhone Lock Screen. The new Lock Screen is entirely customizable, letting you change the colors and fonts, add widgets and new wallpapers, and more to make your iPhone uniquely yours. Of course, even before iOS 16, you could customize your Lock Screen with a wallpaper of your choice. iOS 16 takes the Lock Screen wallpaper...
apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...
mx mechanical keyboard logitech

Logitech Launches New 'Designed for Mac' Mice and Keyboards

Wednesday September 28, 2022 12:01 am PDT by
Logitech today announced the launch of several new mice and keyboards that have been developed for use with Apple's Macs, including Logitech's first mechanical keyboard that has been optimized for the Mac. The MX Mechanical Mini for Mac Keyboard has a keyboard layout designed for Macs, with tools to customize shortcuts with Logi Options+. The keyboard uses Tactile Quiet low-profile switches...
iphone 14 iphone 14 plus in hand feature

iPhone 14 Is Secretly Hiding a Beloved Mac Feature

Friday September 30, 2022 3:24 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models bring over a longstanding Mac feature, but the setting to enable it is off by default. The feature, which is actually a new accessibility option, allows the iPhone to play a startup chime like the Mac. When enabled, the sound comes alongside a new shutdown chime. The Mac has featured a startup chime since 1987's Macintosh II, and the iconic "bong"...