Apple Maps: Apple Maps is much better than you think it is


It was September 2012 and a rather rare thing happened. Companies are known to issue apologies for mistakes they make, products/features that don’t land as well as they expected. CEOs rarely apologise — unless you go by the name of Mark Zuckerberg and run Facebook — unless calamity strikes. In 2012, that calamity was called Apple Maps, which forced Tim Cook to write an open letter apologising to customers. “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” wrote Cook in the letter.

Almost 11 years have passed since that moment and that is equivalent to two or three human lifetimes in the tech world. You know what? Cook was right as Apple has done a lot to make Maps better. Granted, it has taken 11 years but painstakingly and gradually Apple Maps is an app that can actually be mentioned in the same breath as the undisputed king of the navigation jungle — Google Maps.
A polished experience

Apple Maps looks very different and it is a good thing. Such had been the excess baggage that Apple Maps was burdened with that even hardcore iPhone fans don’t open the Maps app. It’s as if the icon had an “abandon hope, all ye’ enter here” signboard hung outside. But over the years the interface of the Apple Maps has become so much better. It is cleaner, and looks neat and polished compared to Google Maps. The dark mode of Apple Maps also looks much better than Google Maps.
And it’s not about the look and feel. There are not too many labels on Apple Maps and the streets look much cleaner. There are fewer visual distractions on Apple Maps and that is a big plus as it shows and does what it’s meant to do.
Walks the walk
One of the things that Apple Maps does way better than Google Maps is pedestrian directions. On Google Maps, it just is very random and you get a feeling of Looking London, Walking Tokyo. It is a struggle at times to use Google Maps while walking. On Apple Maps, it is much more intuitive and using it for walking in a foreign city, it’s much easier and not too complicated.

Apple improves the Maps experience

There was a time when driving navigation was quite bad on Apple Maps. Not anymore. More and more I find that Apple Maps is more accurate in terms of the time it will take to reach a destination. Plus, it doesn’t have that robotic annoying voice that Google Maps has.
The Apple Watch experience
If you use an Apple Watch, then Apple Maps is a true delight. More so with iOS 17. Google Maps does have an app for the Watch but it’s just not that seamless. Apple will, of course, give its own app a better experience. Once you start using Apple Maps on the Watch, there’s zero need to look at your phone even for a second. The haptic feedback is really good anytime a turn is coming up. Earlier Apple Maps just gave directions on the Watch but with iOS 17, you actually can see the streets and buildings.
Room for improvement
Apple Maps needs to do a few things more for it to become a viable alternative to Google Maps. For instance, the traffic or congestion shown on Apple Maps is not as accurate as Google Maps. It also doesn’t tell you how long the congestion is expected to last. There have been times when Apple Maps showed a smooth, clean drive when I encountered heavy traffic on the route.
Also, Apple Maps still remains an iPhone-only app. For Apple Maps to actually work in a country like India, it needs to be made available on Android as well. Google Maps works seamlessly both on Android and iOS. Apple needs to open it up and give an almost same experience on Android for it to catch up.
Apple has made Maps much better and it is definitely worth a try if you are an iPhone user. Perceptions are hard to break but the one about Apple Maps being bad is just pure, simple ignorance and nothing else.


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