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.”