Like nearly everyone I downloaded the new Google Maps for iOS. This removes several of the limitations the old Google Map app had. (That app was written by Apple and Google limited what they could do with it) It now has turn by turn directions, vector graphics, a pseudo-3D mode, and Google Earths true 3D view. As happened this summer with the YouTube apps the iPad is missing in action. With YouTube it came out it was a couple of months until the iPad version came out. I’d assume that’ll be the case here too. (I can’t figure out why there’s such a big delay)
As I described last month, Apple’s maps have improved significantly. At least in the areas I’ve tested. I’ve heard that outside the US the improvement has been going much more slowly. Over at Ars someone was complaining that business info in Saskatchewan wasn’t terribly accurate. Here in Utah Apple Maps now appears as accurate as Google and in some cases more accurate.
One place Google still rules is in detail for things like college campuses. Compare Apple Maps and Google Maps for my old college. Google shows all the sidewalks on campus and gives the building names. Zoom in and it even displays outlines of the buildings. With Apple Maps, no matter how you zoom in, it’s all just a giant blank.
An odd thing about the new Google Maps app is that they still don’t provide contour information. That’s available from Google and I use it a lot in certain other apps that make use of the Google api. For instance gMaps will display the contour data. That’s quite nice when you hike in the mountains, such as beside my house.
Thus far playing around with it I have to confess I prefer Apple’s maps. That’s not to say Apple maps doesn’t still have issues. The contrast between road and the tan background isn’t high enough making it hard to see small roads. Apple also doesn’t display important roads that might count as “small” when you zoom out. That’s a real pain when driving in rural areas as you can’t get a large area display and see the road you are driving on. It’s as if Apple assumes people only drive long distances on freeways. If Apple could fix those issues with smaller but important roads then honestly I think it’d be near perfect. That’s not to deny that POI data and sometimes even road information might not be problematic in some places. Over the past two weeks though I’ve yet to find any problems in the areas I’ve driven.
An other interesting question will be whether Google upgrades its Google Voice Search to send directions to their Google Map app. Right now you still get an incredibly tiny web view of Google Maps. Clicking on an address goes to Safari and the Google Map presentation there. Hopefully that gets fixed before too long.