When Apple announced its own map service (in 2012): Apple Maps, I thought it was a silly and extravagant idea because Google Maps was so dominant (and looked perfect) at the time. However, ten years have passed, and Apple Maps is my first and favorite map service: especially for driving navigation. At the end of this pandemic, driving is getting ordinary again. And I always prefer Apple Maps to Google Maps. I'm not sure it is universal, but I can tell Apple Maps is superior in many aspects in the Bay Area. Let me go over it briefly.
What I love the most about Apple Maps' driving guide is its contextual guide. For example, if I have to turn right at the next-next cross-section with signal lights, Apple Maps says:
- "Pass this light, and at the next one, turn right."
However, in Google Maps:
- "In 1000ft, turn right."
I came from where people were unaware of the imperial system; it is hard to recognize how far 1000ft is. But I believe even if you've been in the imperial world, you will love Apple Maps' contextual guides.
One more thing that I love is its lane guide. For example, there is a two-lane exit but you have to keep left as the exit splits into left and right after that. In such cases, Apple Map guides as follows:
- "Use the second lane from the right to take an exit, then keep left."
It makes me not change the lane abruptly and supports safe driving.
Apple Maps doesn't seem to use any ambiguous (maybe only to me) distances. It only (as far as I remember) says "two miles," "a mile," and so on. I was frustrated so many times when Google Maps said "three-quarters of a mile," which was hard for me to perceive. Apple Maps also use 'quarter' distances, but I remember only "a quarter-mile" and mostly in freeways. When I drive in a city, it uses terms such as "at the next light," "at the next stop sign," or street names.
I think Apple Maps also has a lot to be improved. The feature I miss the most is the offline map. Apple Maps still can not save an area of maps for offline use (while Google Maps can). It still seems to cache your route when you start a route so that you can pass through no-signal areas. But you always have to be online when you start a new route. It is no problem in most urban areas, but it is always a severe problem on road trips - especially in state and national parks.
Although the lane-aware guide is so convenient many times, it sometimes considers carpool lanes too seriously. On our last trip, we were on the carpool lane (the first to the left, and we're three people in the car), but Apple Maps said, "Use the second lane to the left," so I changed the lane, but I realized that I just needed to go straight.
Apple Maps should be an excellent example that Apple's obstination got paid off at last. I want to tell you should try it if you haven't tried it yet (or recently) if you have an iPhone. I wish I could see their guts in other products: for example, you know..., a full-size Homepod with the Airport Extreme.