Apple Maps vs. Google Maps
As Smartphones have become one of the primary resources for North Americans to search the web and navigate their day-to-day life, web mapping services have been on the rise in both popularity and complexity. With surprising methods of monetization, the web mapping services realm has become highly competitive: Google is the clear industry leader, but Apple is quickly clipping their heels, wrestling for a piece of the map money pie.
The Market Leader but not the Pioneer
In 2000 shortly after being acquired by AOL, MapQuest was a household name. It was a verb – people were “MapQuesting” directions and printing out a travel guide to their destination. Google Maps, the current market leader, launched in 2005 and by 2008 started to quickly overtake MapQuest as the number one web mapping service. Apple Maps launched in 2012 with iOS 6 to replace the Google Maps app on all iOS devices and is now the native built-in navigation with enabled virtual assistance by Siri. The 2012 Apple Maps launch was riddled with issues and criticism, leading to the departure of two key employees, and a public apology issued by Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. Since then Apple has committed to improving their offering and is expected to keep Google Maps on their toes in the iOS / Android market share war.
Google has added a slew of new features, constantly upping the ante of functional modern mapping technology and finding ways to integrate their massive Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality departments.
One of the most inspired new Google Maps features currently being rolled out is walking directions integrated with augmented reality. When you hold your phone up, Google Maps will match the view from your camera to Google Street View, then guide you on your desired direction. While this feature has been announced as in the works, its launch date is yet to be confirmed.
Conversely, Apple Maps’ latest feature announcement is a beta of Map embeds in your browser. [*WOMP WOMP*]
One of the earliest features available from Google Maps, Apple is finally catching up to the baseline features – at least they are including touch screen usability – including pinching to zoom, rotating the orientation of the map with two fingers, and the option to display the map in street view or satellite mode.
Apple has a few fun gimmicks built in, such as Big Ben displaying the current time in Flyover mode, which could give a fun insight on how interactive these mapping features could become over the next little while. Google Street View was a revolutionary implementation, rolled out in 2007 across some cities in the USA, and has since expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide. One of Google’s perhaps greatest implementations is the Traffic Prediction feature: using drivers’ cellular data, it can predict the movement of traffic based on number of signals and how quickly they are moving in an area.
While Apple has been creeping up on Google Maps’ stronghold in the web mapping industry, they are still only sitting at approximately 25% of the Smartphone market share, while Google is at a strong 50%. Ultimately, Google Maps has become a household name and with its first to market style of implementation for the boom of Smartphones, plans to stay that way. Apple Maps has increased their market share dramatically over the last 4 years, largely tied to the success of the iPhone, however Apple Maps has a long way to go before they lead the way through innovation, and not merely hanging on to the coattails of Google Maps.
By Mary MacPherson