Apple’s New Maps App May Need Work, But Its Turn-By-Turn Is Better Than Google’s

Apple’s New Maps App May Need Work, But Its Turn-By-Turn Is Better Than Google’s

Going somewhere? Trust Apple’s turn-by-turn directions to get you there.

If you’ve opened up Apple’s new Maps app in iOS 6, you probably have a good idea of the faults everyone’s been complaining about. But it does have one feature that works well: turn-by-turn navigation. In fact, when compared to Google’s turn-by-turn feature on Android, Apple’s service is actually much better in many ways.

David Thomas of Cars.com has been putting Apple’s turn-by-turn feature through its paces for the past fortnight, and has found that it works “exceptionally well” — despite the problems with the Maps app itself.

The first thing Thomas noted — as I’m sure you have, too — is that Apple Maps looks fantastic, especially on the iPhone 5’s new Retina display. When compared to dedicated GPS systems, the difference is like night and day, and it’s far prettier that Google Maps, too.

“Compared with a standard car-navigation screen, like the 7-inch display in the GMC Terrain Denali, the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen looks small,” Thomas notes. “But the clarity is far superior, and I didn’t have a hard time reading the directions at a similar distance as the built-in screen. The Galaxy Note’s large 5.3-inch screen looked good, too, but it was severely affected by glare from the noon sun, whereas the iPhone’s screen wasn’t.”

As for routing, Thomas explains that the iPhone 5 is best here, too. It offers three different routes for every destination as standard, whereas Google Maps doesn’t. What’s more, Apple’s service finds routes “rapidly — in a split second or a few dozen feet.” There is room for improvement here, though.

“The iPhone 5 also prompts you a hair later than the Samsung, giving you less time to really make a call on whether it’s the right time to turn or not,” Thomas says.

Apple’s device also played nicely with Thomas’s car when plugged into its USB port, playing navigation instructions through the speakers and automatically lowering the volume of the car radio.

“This mimics car-based systems to a T,” Thomas notes. The Android handset, on the other hand, wasn’t compatible with the car, and the voice prompts it gives are “definitely more robotic-sounding than the iPhone’s.”

Finally, and arguably the most important feature, is accuracy. Maps has received a lot of criticism for its inaccuracies, labeling some roads incorrectly and not listing others at all. However, when it comes to turn-by-turn, it’s pretty spot on. Thomas found that during his tests over “a few hundred miles,” the iPhone missed only one location.

Thomas’s conclusion: “The iPhone’s maps certainly are far from perfect, but the turn-by-turn navigation functions are as good as any I’ve seen.”

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  • jarrodbcecil

    Finally! Someone who’s not still just jumping on the Maps bashing bandwagon. I, for one, Love maps. Find it incredibly useful, and the turn by turn is very sharp and accurate. FYI – I live in Metro Atlanta.

  • jebaker64

    Totally agree – Drove from city to city south of Portland, Oregon yesterday and turn-by-turn plus tunes was a great way to travel!

  • shiprack

    You missed several points here: Apple Maps doesn’t provide realtime traffic updates and ETA that takes traffic congestion into account. Also, when you reach a destination Google maps shows you a street view of the destination address. That’s missing in Apple maps too. Although, I’m still very excited about Apple Maps cause its only going to get better, and knowing Apple, they’ll provide quick updates to fix all the flaws people have discovered. All-in-all, I’m switching to iphone after 4 years of being an Android user.

  • extra_medium

    City to city on open highways I’m sure its fine. How can you screw that up? But in the twisted maze of Chicago streets Google maps has been a clear winner for me. Yes, I have an iPhone along with a galaxy, my company is ridiculous. I’m not trying to pile on apple maps but between the constant u-turns and pattern of getting me somewhat near to, but across major highways, or on streets located behind the shopping centers that contain my destination, I’m still siding with Google maps here.

  • matrix3D

    You missed several points here: Apple Maps doesn’t provide realtime traffic updates and ETA that takes traffic congestion into account. Also, when you reach a destination Google maps shows you a street view of the destination address. That’s missing in Apple maps too. Although, I’m still very excited about Apple Maps cause its only going to get better, and knowing Apple, they’ll provide quick updates to fix all the flaws people have discovered. All-in-all, I’m switching to iphone after 4 years of being an Android user.

    Actually, it does provide real-time traffic updates. You just have to turn it on by tapping the little “curl” in the bottom-right corner and then tap on the “Show Traffic” button. In my area, it’s been pretty accurate as I check it before I leave for work in the morning and all of the areas it shows heavy traffic has had it. It’s even shown exit closures due to road work in my area as well. Now, whether or not turn-by-turn takes this into account, I’m not sure if it does but I believe I saw a screenshot on Apple’s site for turn-by-turn that showed a popup saying something like “Traffic ahead. Re-routing will save 10 minutes.” and then gave the option to re-route so I would take this to imply that it does indeed support it.

  • yankeesusa

    That’s good to hear. I’m just mad that my wifes iPhone 4 doesn’t get turn by turn. Hopefully on the jailbroken phones it will be possible.

  • nikster

    Good to hear some positives too, to be honest. Maybe Apple do know what they’re doing, after all. It will still take a while to build out comprehensive databases but as time goes on it will get more competitive. Actually, I bet by this time next year, nobody will even mention it anymore….

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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