Apple Maps Interview with Craig Federighi and Eddie Cue (@tetzeli)
Eddy Cue: The first thing to know about Maps is there’s no one developing maps in a significant way except us and Google. There’s Nokia, and then you’ve got TomTom, which is a relatively small company selling to cars. Even when you hear of a company like Uber doing that, everyone is doing it with a very narrow focus. We use maps in a very, very broad way, and so do our customers.
Federighi: …There’s a huge data-quality issue there, and I don’t think we initially appreciated all the kinds of technology we would need to do that on an ongoing basis. Going through that lesson in a very public way gave us all the motivation we needed to say we’re going to do this really well.
I think they need a little more motivation.
Some common use cases for me, which I don’t think Apple thinks about very much, are outdoor activities like hiking and fishing. A typical example of Apple Maps vs. Google Maps for a place I might visit (this is similar when comparing the Apple Maps Mac app to the Google Maps website, as well as comparing each company’s iOS app):
Apple Maps (above)
Google Maps (above)
Even zooming in, Apple Maps does not show the parks, state game lands, preserves, or campgrounds. At this level, it also does not show the streams like Google Maps does, but zooming in a little more reveals them. Not only that, but Google Maps has a terrain feature which renders nicely shaded and very usable topographic maps. Try it yourself. Apple has nothing like that.
This is by no means an exhaustive comparison. For many people, directions and common points of interest are all they want from apps like this, and from my experience Apple has certainly matched Google in those areas. I also like the simpler Apple Maps interface much better than either Google’s website or iOS app (I have cropped out the Google Maps left-panel muck in the shot above). But Google has done so much more with their mapping data, and it really shows.
Is it possible for Apple to catch up to Google with mapping? Sure, but it will be a long road and I’m not sure Apple is committed to matching Google for all types of geographic data.