Apple’s iPhone 5 may well be one of the finest smartphones on the market, but when it comes to maps, it’s a shambles. Whole towns relocated, long-closed shops miraculously re-opening, bridges so bendy that they looked like they’ve been mapped by a cartographer on acid. Apple Maps simply isn’t a patch on Google Maps, so unceremoniously booted from the iOS platform.
But finally some good news. Apple Maps has at least one thing working in its favour; it’s 80% more data efficient than Google Maps. That’s according to data experts Onavo, who tip Apple’s Maps for those on smaller data contracts.
“On Google Maps, the average data loaded from the cellular network for each step was 1.3MB,” Onavo says.
“Apple Maps came in at 271KB – that’s approximately 80 per cent less data!
“On some actions, such as zooming in to see a particular intersection, Apple Maps’ efficiency edged close to 7x.”
It’s all down to the way Apple generates its mapping data. Using vector graphics, new images don’t have to be downloaded every time you zoom in or rescale the map, unlike Google Maps. Satellite imagery is also said to take up around half as much data as Google’s offering, though from our experience this may be down to the definition of the images shown; Google’s satellite view seems far clearer.
Though it’s certainly good news for Apple Maps users following so many problems the service has suffered, it doesn’t take into account Google Maps’ offline functionality, which lets you download large chunks of the map over Wi-Fi to be viewed when away from a data connection, something sorely missing from Apple Maps.
The vitriol towards Apple Maps has been so great that it inspired a rare public apology from Apple, with CEO Tim Cook admitting there were serious problems with the service still being ironed out, and leading him to even recommend rival services like Nokia Maps, Bing Maps and (with a helping of humble pie) Google Maps in the meantime.