Apple Maps Gradually Winning Over Google Maps Users, Report Suggests

iPhone users are increasingly finding reasons to choose Apple Maps over Google Maps, with some customers commending its clear public transport directions and visually appealing design.

apple maps 3d feature
That's according to anecdotal reports collected by The Wall Street Journal (paywalled). While Apple Maps comes preinstalled on all iPhones, the overwhelming majority of iPhones in the U.S. have Google Maps downloaded as an alternative, according to Canalys.

But that hasn't stopped some users becoming particularly impressed by how far Apple's transit route information has come. The app is often recommended by users for its cleaner view versus the more cluttered design of Google Maps.

For example, Jane Natoli, a Google Maps "power user" told WSJ she finds herself using Apple Maps more in her everyday life after her iPhone prompted her to use it in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The app knew she was at the airport and offered recommendations for shops and restaurants in her terminal. It had clearer information that was easier to interact with than Google Maps, said the 42-year-old.

"It made me kind of revisit and rethink some of my prior assumptions about it," Natoli says. "Whatever initial reputational hurdles that Apple Maps faced, I think they've jumped over those."

Outside the airport, Natoli likes Apple's design and finds directions easier to read, especially street names. On Google Maps sometimes it's difficult to figure out the street name, no matter how closely you zoom in, she says.

"Google is showing me restaurants, bars and other things, but I'm not necessarily looking for that," she says.

A recent graduate from Georgia Tech shared a similar sentiment. At night while driving, she said she finds that the roads are easier to look at on Apple Maps, and there are fewer points of interest cluttering her view. "Apple's really good at making things look pretty," she told the outlet.

Apple Maps launched in 2012 and was quickly criticized for having incomplete and inaccurate mapping data, which led some iPhone users on dangerous routes. Apple CEO Tim Cook offered a rare public apology for the frustration it caused customers, and then iOS chief Scott Forstall was ousted just one month later.

Since then, Apple has made significant improvements to Apple Maps, building in new features and correcting lingering errors. Real-time traffic information and navigation options for pedestrians were added to Maps in 2013, which is also the same year Maps was extended to OS X. In 2015, Maps was updated with "Nearby," a feature that offers up local points of interest and transit directions in a handful of cities.

In early 2020, Apple completed a complete overhaul of its maps in the United States, featuring significantly greater detail including updated building massing, parks, sports field, pools, and more. A new Look Around feature in select cities is similar to Google's Street View, and the updated maps have been rolling out to more countries in the time since. In iOS 17, coming in the fall, users will be able to download maps for offline use in Apple Maps – something Google Maps users have been able to do now for quite some time.

Praise for Apple's offering isn't by any means universal. One user told WSJ she was frequently led astray by Apple Maps as she walks around Boston, while another user said his experience with Apple Maps via CarPlay had often added time on to his commute by taking him through neighborhoods with stop signs in an effort to avoid gridlock.

Apple Maps still gets a bad rap among some users, but Apple's continued efforts to improve the app appear to have helped reverse some of those opinions. "Maps has come a long way, and people have noticed," Craig Federighi, Apple's head of software, said during WWDC in June. Are you more or less likely to use Apple Maps these days? Let us know in the comments.

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Top Rated Comments

LilNasX Avatar
13 months ago
Haters?? Critics of apple maps had good reasons... especially in the first few years where it was trash.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
spartan1967 Avatar
13 months ago
I’m no hater, but Apple maps still has a ways to go before matching Google maps accuracy & efficiency.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
v0lume4 Avatar
13 months ago
The fact that Apple Maps is just now getting downloadable maps in iOS 17 should still tell you everything you need to know.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nosmo King Avatar
13 months ago
One of the problems with maps for me is when you start the route. The app is very slow and cannot find its orientation until you start driving, and then you realise you are driving in the wrong direction and I have to turn around. I don't understand why Aplple does not use the compass to help Maps find its start up orientation.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cornelius Bode Avatar
13 months ago
I switched from Google Maps to Apple Maps as navigation tool for driving in Germany about 6 months ago and I haven't looked back since. Nicer optics, precise predictions for time of arrival, way more "ear-friendly" announcement voices. And I really appreciate that Apple Maps "talks" less. Google sometimes drove me crazy with the lengthy messages that were repeated to or three times, sounded terribly and were quite often pronounced ridiculously wrong. I really like Apple Maps by now.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Justin Cymbal Avatar
13 months ago
I primarily use Apple Maps over Google Maps mainly because of the integration that Apple has implemented in their software and how easy it works with CarPlay

Apple Maps has definitely come a long way since 2012 and with all of the new features like flyover and detailed airport, stadium and mall map information, it seems as though Google is the one playing catch up at this point but competition is definitely the best thing for consumers and I’m glad to have both Google and Apple competing with regards to Maps
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)