As an iPhone owner (I also have several Android phones) I use Apple Maps a great deal. However I’ve found myself using it less over the past several months. That declining usage revolves around routing and navigation.
In many ways I prefer Apple Maps to Google Maps. However I believe that Google offers more reliable navigation and is more likely to get me to my destination more quickly. When I’m at home I’m inclined to use Apple Maps because I’m familiar with the area and routes; so if there’s a mistake I can catch it. But when I’m traveling and in a rental car, I always choose Google Maps.
On a “visceral” level I have more confidence in Google’s navigation and routing. (Waze is separate conversation). I’m sure I’m not alone in this. And this is a problem that Apple will need to directly address; it can’t simply rely on being the “default map” for iPhone users.
At Apple’s 2015 developer event, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple Maps were being used 3.5x more than “the next leading mapping app” (Google Maps) on the iPhone. But in June 2016 a survey of just over 2,000 US adults from Fluent argued that Google Maps is the favorite mapping app for both Android and iPhone users.
Maps and navigation (and local search) are critical functions and features for smartphone users — as everyone reading this knows. Apple will need to invest in its mapping product in perpetuity if it’s to remain competitive with Google. Apple knows this. (Siri improvements and third party developer integration into Apple Maps are key to competing as well.)
Apple needs to tackle the problem of my “intuitive perception” that Google Maps offers more reliable navigation head on. (I don’t actually know this as a fact; I haven’t systematically tested it.) I believe the company needs a version of a head-to-head match-up, or “Pepsi Challenge,” to show that Apple Maps features and routing are as good as its rival’s. At a minimum it needs to do more to promote Apple Maps and its capabilities.
But first it must make sure Apple Maps are in fact as good as Google Maps.