It’s official, Apple Maps and Google Maps have been put through a head-to-head in-the-wild test by the ultimate in-the-wild testers – Consumer Reports. These people make their living off testing and rating products.
Consumer Reports toured the New York City area with the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy 3s running Ice Cream Sandwich. Two of each handset was used to test carrier variances. While Consumer Reports looked at all the features of each map app, they only let functional navigation features influence their opinions for this test (so melting 3D graphics didn’t come into play in the final judgement). Here’s what they found:
Overall, Apple impressed our staff with the graphic presentation for the interface, results, signage, and points of interest info. However, there is less customization throughout than Google–a mixed blessing when driving, where distractions can be dangerous. Google comes across as more business like and less fun.
Apple Maps is relatively streamlined, providing basic navigation guidance and limited travel information. The large display for next-turn information (which looks like a familiar green-and-white highway-sign) is easy to read at a glance, and it compensates for a map design that is harder to interpret than that on Android. We like the estimated time of arrival, remaining distance, and travel time countdown, although the text is so small, it is a greater aid for a passenger than the driver.
In terms of traffic reporting, Google gets the nod. The iPhone doesn’t highlight roads where traffic is flowing well, and the red dashes and yellow overlays of roads meant to indicate stopped or slow traffic aren’t nearly as vivid and readily interpreted as those in the Google app. …
As for points of interest (POI), we programmed and traveled to numerous destinations. Almost all were found and successfully routed. Both platforms provided comparable information about restaurants and other attractions. …
Where we did run into trouble on the iPhone was searching for a nearby train station. The system couldn’t identify the location by “train,” instead requiring a search for “Metro North”–a name that a visitor to the region may not be familiar with.
Read the full analysis at Consumer Reports >>>
Consumer Reports’ final verdict is that both maps are functional and provide clear directions. They note that Apple Maps feels a bit immature at the moment, but they’re confident that will change with future updates. For right now though, Google Maps comes out on top in Consumer Reports’ opinion.