Google Maps challenged as its greatest rival receives a major upgrade

Google Maps still eclipses Apple Maps in terms of features and active users, but every year the latter rolls out a wealth of improvements that have made it a truly viable alternative.

Earlier this month, Apple launched iOS 13, its new all-singing, all-dancing operating system for the iPhone. While the software introduced a number of substantial new features such as Dark Mode, a revamped Photos app and a new way to sign in with Apple, some of the biggest upgrades are reserved for Apple Maps.

Apple Maps on iOS 13 comes with what the tech giant is dubbing a “new Maps experience” that should deliver richer details, improved road coverage, and more accurate pedestrian data… at least if you live in a select number of US cities.

In an attempt to improve Apple Maps, the firm has started gathering more detailed data for the application. While the effort to add more data than you’d find on rival map applications is commendable, it takes time to catalogue all of this new information. As such, only a limited number of areas – like Apple’s home in Northern California – currently benefit from such upgrades.

That said, the American tech giant has promised its new more detailed maps should arrive “across the US by the end of 2019”. Apple has also promised other countries will receive it starting next year.

Discussing the new version of Apple Maps in iOS 13, the company said: “Apple Maps helps millions of people navigate and explore the world, all while protecting user privacy. After driving 4 million miles to rebuild the basemap from the ground up, Apple is delivering a new Maps experience with broader road coverage, better pedestrian data, more precise addresses and more detailed landcover.

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“The new map is available now in select cities and states, and will roll out across the US by the end of 2019 and to more countries in 2020.”

It’s worth noting that Apple’s new maps are actually more detailed than those offered by Google. Last year digital cartography blogger Justin O’Beirne posted a detailed comparison between the two in the state of California and found Apple’s offering to better represent vegetation and house footprints.

Apple Maps has also received a new feature called Look Around in iOS 13 that is essentially the Cupertino-based firm’s take on Google’s Street View.

Just like Street View, Apple Maps now allows fans to meticulously scour the world around them. The main difference between the two is the fact Apple offers smoother transitioning from one point in a road to another, with more naturalistic animations giving the impression of walking – or driving – down the road, instead of the jumpy warp-like effect on Google.

Unfortunately, Look Around is currently only available in San Francisco right now, so if you live elsewhere you’re out of luck. Of course, Apple plans to expand its functionality, but this will take time.

Finally, Apple Maps in iOS 13 also boasts another feature that is already hugely popular in Google Maps – the ability to share an ETA with friends and family.

Introduced in Apple’s iOS 13.1 update, sharing an ETA is achieved by swiping up at the bottom of the area displaying your arrival time. From there a prompt should appear aptly titled “Share ETA”.

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After you have shared an ETA with a friend or family, further messages will be sent to them if you’re delayed or take a detour.

The new version of Apple Maps debuted in iOS 13, that is available for these iPhones:

• iPhone 11

• iPhone 11 Pro

• iPhone 11 Pro Max

• iPhone XS

• iPhone XS Max

• iPhone XR

• iPhone X

• iPhone 8

• iPhone 8 Plus

• iPhone 7

• iPhone 7 Plus

• iPhone 6s

• iPhone 6s Plus

• iPhone SE

• iPod touch (7th generation)


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