Walt Mossberg agrees that Google Maps is better on iPhone than on Android

By , Dec 19, 2012

Google Maps 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 003)Google Maps 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

Google’s new iOS Maps app is universally accepted as the best experience on any mobile platform. First Google told The New York Times columnist David Pogue that it “admits that it’s even better than Google Maps for Android phones”, which Pogue says has accommodated its evolving feature set “mainly by piling on menus”. And now, Pogue’s peer over at The Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg, seems to agree as he calls Google’s iPhone mapping software “better in most respects” on the iPhone than it is on Android phones, where “it looks inelegant by comparison”

From Mossberg’s Google Maps review:

I’ve been testing the new Google Maps on iPhone for a week or so in the San Francisco and Washington metro areas, and I really like it. It isn’t perfect, but I prefer it to any other iPhone Maps app I’ve used, and to Google Maps on Android. The latter will likely also gain the new design in time, but for now, it looks inelegant by comparison.

Also this (emphasis mine):

However, the biggest news here is that the new iPhone version of Google Maps isn’t just better than Apple Maps. For now, at least, Google Maps is better in most respects on the iPhone than it is on Android phones.

It has been redesigned with a cleaner, simpler user interface that makes it easier to use. Google officials say they took the sudden need to build a new iPhone version as an opportunity to rethink the popular app from the ground up.

Pogue also wrote in his review that the two most glaring omission – the lack of native iPad support and offline mode – are likely to be addressed, writing that “goodies like those will be coming soon”.

“We believe this delightful new experience is a great starting point—and we’ll continue to improve Google Maps for you, every day”, the search firm wrote in a blog post.

Of course, Google’s been cramming new features into Google Maps for Android by way of adding new options to menus, eventually cluttering the user interface up to the point of confusion. On the iPhone, Google started from scratch and wrote the app from the ground up, with none of the baggage from the past.

It should be noted that the Android version still one-ups that on the iPhone in terms of available features. For example, bicycling directions and interior maps are available on Android, but not on the iPhone. Android users can also cache maps for offline use and receive alerts for nearby offers that show up for some businesses.

Google Maps 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 005)

According to Mossberg, Google says “these may be added over time”. The iPhone version supports other headline features, including Street View and turn-by-turn directions.

People were certainly very eager to try out Google’s Maps iOS app.

Currently the App Store’s #1 free app, it saw ten million downloads in the first 48 hours of availability.

The program may have even boosted iOS 6 adoption rate, with MoPub seeing a 29 increase in unique iOS 6 users in the five days after Google Maps for iOS was released and a thirteen percent increase from Monday to Wednesday of last week.

Would you agree that Google Maps on the iPhone is better than that on Android?

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  • http://twitter.com/Max_Kas Max Kas

    What does Walt Mossberg get paid to do again? ;)

  • Ben Martinez-Garcia

    What about voice search? Sure I can use Google voice for directions and the open Google Maps (with the Jailbreak Tweak). But voice search directly from the Google Maps App, that’s the one thing I miss from the Android App.

    • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

      You actually don’t need the jailbreak tweak to open maps from Google voice search, but you will have to do an extra tap to get from the web app to the iOS app.

      As posted here and elsewhere, there’s also ways to get directions by voice through Siri with the trick of adding “by transit” to your request. “Directions to the nearest Best Buy by transit” will, after selecting Google Maps from “routing apps”, give you directions by car.

      But yeah, building it into the app itself would be nice. Maybe Google can use some of their own APIs to make the switch from Google Search app to Google Maps app a bit cleaner in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/lindstorm Antti Lindström

    I think the Street view -function was quite illogically hid in the iOS version. I was looking for similar kind of drag-a-doll -experience than the desktop-browser -version has. Instead I had to click-scroll-click to get to it. Oh well, learn once, use always.

  • http://www.geeksonhugs.com/ W. Anthony Tanas

    One of the first things I noticed when messing around with iOS for the first time was that most of the Google apps are better on iOS. The Google search app itself is the best voice search experience of any product on any platform anywhere.

    Perhaps Google feels it has something to prove or maybe it’s just a reflection of the fact that it is easier to develop for more singular iOS devices.

    • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

      The Google Search app’s voice abilities really are awesome. There’s a version of it for Windows 8 that functions nearly identically as well – voice feedback and everything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001783517599 Gregory D Foster

    If google had released the damn app prior to apple maps, we wouldn’t even be talking about this. Glad they finally got around to doing a new iPhone version, it only took apple kicking them off to do it. The user gets so screwed by these guys bs.

  • http://twitter.com/mdridwan Mohammad Ridwan

    I’m Walt Mossberg… Shut up