29 May 2017

Justin O’Beirne: “A Year of Google Maps & Apple Maps”

This all seems to suggest that Google’s location data is more precise than Apple’s. (Or that Apple’s geocoder is buggy.) And perhaps here we’re seeing the fruits of Google’s decade-long Street View project:

Google has been using computer vision and machine learning to extract business names and locations from the Street View imagery it has collected. And as of 2014, Google had already driven 99% of U.S. public roads.

Justin O’Beirne

Wonderful, in-depth comparison of Google and Apple Maps backed by data and concrete examples. Long-story short: Google Maps is more accurate and detailed than Apple Maps and constantly getting better, while Apple struggles to get business addresses right even in down-town San Francisco. So much for Apple’s superior services

While on the subject, I did a quick comparison on my iPhone to see just how bad Apple Maps are around here in Romania. As you can see from the images below, the Terrain view in Apple Maps doesn’t show one of the largest and most popular lakes in the city, and the park outlines are completely wrong, a green blob with no connection to reality – compare with the third image in Satellite view. On the other hand, Google gets most of the details right, down to the small alleys in the park. It’s like Google has been using image recognition software on satellite images to infer roads and alleys – or the background location data from Android phones of people walking in the park over the course of years.

You want to know the worse part about Apple Maps? Going back to my article about iOS 6 almost five years ago, it includes a screen capture of the same portion of the map: there is practically no change! I cannot stress this enough: Apple Maps for Bucharest has not improved at all in five years!

Apple Maps for Herastrau, Bucharest Google Maps for Herastrau, Bucharest Apple Maps Satellite for Herastrau, Bucharest
From first to last: current Apple Maps in Terrain view, Google Maps, and Apple Maps in Satellite view

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