14 September 2020

Apple Maps vs Bing Maps vs Google Maps: Which Is Better?

When it comes to the online mapping industry, there are three big players out there currently; Apple Maps, Google Maps and Bing Maps. On this post, we will be taking a look at all three to determine which is the best mapping software to use as you drive.

Google Maps has long been the dominant player in the online mapping industry, originally launching in 2005. Apple Maps originally launched in 2012, and was highly regarded as a failure due to incorrect directions, wrongly-placed landmarks, and nonexistent airports. However, since then, Apple has rebuilt their mapping software from the ground up. Additionally, with Bing Maps becoming more prevalent since its inception in 2005, is Google Maps still the top player it once was?

 

Display:

Apple Maps (4 points): Apple Maps has a very clear display that’s easy to navigate, along with a large font, which makes it easier to read. The map design is pleasing to the eye, however, it is more difficult to differentiate between cities/towns and fields on this map from a further distance.

Bing Maps (3 points): Much like Apple Maps, Bing Maps utilises an easy to read, large font, a feature essential for any readers with visual disabilities. However, it seems to struggle knowing whether it should prioritise displaying larger or smaller town names when viewing a large area. Upon inspection, Wrexham, Whitchurch, Bangor, Caernarfon, Holyhead, and many London districts were strangely absent.

Google Maps (4.5 points): Google Maps recently overwent an entire visual overhaul, one of the biggest since its incarnation over 15 years ago. This new design makes it much easier to differentiate between cities and fields/forests, whilst also giving you an idea of the landscape in the area. One flaw of the display is the rather small text that is more difficult to read. Unfortunately, Google does not provide any official way to enlarge the text currently.

 

Travel Options:

Apple Maps (4 points): Apple Maps offer directions for multiple kinds of transportation, including driving, buses/trains, and even walking. You may also choose to avoid tolls and highways. Shockingly however, it does not currently have an option for those wishing to travel by bike. Additionally, it did not include the option to add multiple destinations.

Bing Maps (4.5 points): Bing Maps includes all the offerings Apple Maps has, with the addition of avoiding ferries and country borders (though the latter isn’t really a problem when driving in Great Britain alone). Users can also add multiple destinations to their journey.

Google Maps (5 points): Google Maps offers all these and more (except the option to avoid country borders). With the addition of cycle directions, and (shockingly) plane routes, Google Maps offers more variety and options.

 

Directions:

Apple Maps (5 points): Apple Maps provide you with multiple alternate routes to get to your intended destination, with the fastest/safest one always being the priority. Should you be needing to travel via public transportation, the map also blurs out unnecessary details so you can focus on the route your journey will take. One minor fault, however, is the desktop version of Apple Maps won’t let you add extra destinations when searching for directions.

Bing Maps (4.5 points): Bing Maps offer clear instructions on how to get to your destination with ease, with the option to add multiple destinations and adjust your route. They also offer clear information on traffic where possible.

Google Maps (5 points): Google Maps always tries to take you through the most convenient route, taking into account all traffic, delays, and incidents that may have occurred throughout the route. It instantly warns you of any traffic and delays to your journey, and offers alternative routes wherever possible.

 

Local Stores / Restaurants:

Apple Maps (4.5 points): Apple Maps make it fast and easy to find what you’re looking for. They’ll list each location from the closest to the furthest in terms of numbers, as well as provide reviews from sites such as TripAdvisor.

Bing Maps (2 points): Whilst mostly correct, Bing Maps appears to be largely dated. A quick search of McDonald’s displayed a restaurant that had already been closed for over 2 years, with no indication of such on the website. A search for Burger King also displayed restaurants that had closed all the way back in the mid-2000s.

Google Maps (5 points): Google Maps uses distinct colours and icons for their stores and restaurants to make them easily stand out. Whilst Apple Maps does the same thing, Google’s icons are more colourful and stand out easier over Apple’s options. Additionally, most of the time, Google’s listings are accurate, even warning you if a place is about to close soon.

 

Street View vs Look Around

Apple Maps (4 points): Apple Maps is currently rolling out a Street View-like feature known as “Look Around”. Currently, the only reason this feature gets 4 points is because of its slow roll-out and limited availability. Once it becomes more available worldwide, this will likely go up to 5 points.

Bing Maps (2 points): Bing Maps has a limited Street View-like feature named Streetside. This feature can be accessed by hovering over the “Road” option on the top right, and then clicking Streetside. This feature gets 2 points due to its limited availability, low quality photographs, as well as imagery that didn’t seem to be updated since 2009.

Google Maps (5 points): Street View was originally implemented to help people with directions and to become familiar with where they’re headed. But let’s face it, we’ve all browsed Street View for fun, to look at all the wacky and wonderful places around the world. Some countries, such as Germany and Austria, are mostly unavailable for Street View.

 

Portability On Mobile Devices

Apple Maps (4 points): Apple aren’t usually ones to share their software with other companies, and Apple Maps is no exception. Apple Maps is only available on iPhones, iPads, iPods, CarPlay and Mac OS. You can technically access Apple Maps on Android phones through an application known as DuckDuckGo, but it isn’t really worth the extra hassle.

Bing Maps (0 points): Bing Maps doesn’t seem to truly have an app of its own, and any attempts to load it on a phone’s internet browser appears to redirect the user to the Bing homepage.

Google Maps (5 points): Google Maps has been available on smartphones ever since the launch of the first iPhone way back in 2007. Back then, they were Apple’s main map provider before they split ways and Apple developed their own mapping software. Nevertheless, Google Maps is readily available from the get-go on Android devices, and remains easily downloadable for any smartphone on the market.

 

Other Widgets

Apple Maps (5 points): Apple have implemented a feature on their maps known as flyover. This allows the user to hover over 3D renditions of major cities and famous tourist attractions. Additionally, Apple Maps now allow users to view maps of major airports and shopping centres. This includes shop locations, toilets, as well as gates in the cases of airports. Though this is mostly limited to the USA currently, it is likely to be rolled out in the UK.

Bing Maps (4 points): With the use of an additional plugin, users can explore popular destinations in 3D on Bing Maps. Additionally, Bing Maps has implemented a feature where users can view maps of indoor venues such as shopping centres, hospitals, malls and museums. A close test of these features have had mixed results. Whilst the Trafford Centre was more difficult to view, Bing Maps was able to map out Manchester Royal Infirmary clearer than Google Maps.

Google Maps (5 points): Google Maps is constantly updating itself to be a reliable mapping platform. Provided you have enough storage on your phone, users can download any map for offline use.

Those with mobility issues will be happy to know that under public transport, users can select “Route options” to find a wheelchair accessible option. This will then display every mode of public transport that is accessible to disabled passengers.

On the desktop version of Google Maps, right-clicking anywhere on the maps will allow you to measure the distance of any two points in the world (distances will be shown in kilometres). Under the satellite option, users can view large cities and famous landmarks in 3D mode if the 3D option on the bottom right corner is selected.

 

Privacy

Apple Maps (5 points): Those who like privacy will be happy to know that Apple Maps does not require users to log in to use their services. Your location, search history etc will not be linked to your Apple ID, nor are you required to be logged in with an Apple ID in order to use the services. If you save locations across devices, it uses end-to-end encryption so the company cannot see what you saved, or if you saved anything at all.

Bing Maps (3 points): Microsoft tracks your search history so it can suggest locations when you use their service. It should be noted, however, that this feature can be turned off.

Google Maps (3 points): It’s no secret that Google uses a lot of their data, it’s one of the unfortunate effects of using any of their services. Their “Places” feature can show you exactly where you’ve been any day you’ve been carrying around Google Maps, which may look cool (if not somewhat scary how accurate it can be), but it shows the extent of how much information about you they can store/keep. However, here’s how you can tell Google to shove it if you don’t want them collecting your data.

On any device – Head to myactivity.google.com, and toggle off “Web & App Activity” and “Location History”

Android – Select Settings > Location Settings > Press “Location History Is On” > when new window appears, toggle the switch to OFF

Apple iOS – Settings > Privacy > Location Services

 

Public Transportation

Apple Maps (4.5 points): Apple Maps provides you with the fastest methods of transportation possible when searching for transit options. The user may also select which time/day they’d like to leave. Unfortunately, it lacks information such as including the option to include wheelchair accessible-only transportation in the search results.

Bing Maps (4.5 points): Similar to Apple Maps, Bing Maps will provide you with the fastest methods of transportation, as well as allowing you to choose what time you leave.

Google Maps (5 points): Google Maps offers all those features above and more. Google will also provide alternatives such as Uber, and will even give an estimated price for a ride. As well as that, Google Maps will also provide additional options to allow users to search for wheelchair accessible transport.

 

Final Verdict:

Apple Maps – 40 points
Bing Maps -27.5 points
Google Maps – 42.5 points

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