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Apple Maps vs Google Maps: Which app is better for your next vacation?

Open country road
Sitraka via Unsplash

The open road gives you opportunities to explore. Whether you embark on a set route or want to take it as you go, traveling by car puts you in the driver’s seat. But to ensure you stay on course, you’ll need a full-featured mapping app with accurate directions and useful features.

Apple Maps and Google Maps are popular navigation apps with particular nuances and visuals that may appeal to different users. While both offer trustworthy directions, their varying user experiences give consumers a unique choice either way.

If you’re comparing Apple Maps vs Google Maps, here’s our guide to their interfaces and features so you can choose the one that suits you best. Whether you’re setting out on a cross-country road trip or driving 150 miles to the beach, here’s the info you need. Let’s dive in.

Traffic through city streets
Jon Flobrant via Unsplash

Why navigation apps are essential for road travel

Modern travelers have it good. Back in the old days, before smartphones and apps, paper maps and directions offered a clunky experience. Whenever you lost your way, you’d have to stop, unfold the map, locate your position, and try your best to find a route. Or, if you wrote down directions from a friend, it was a chore constantly reading and driving. But today, mapping apps make driving anywhere easy.

With refined, high-tech apps like Google Maps or Apple Maps, you can rest assured you’ve got the directions you need. Just pop your phone in a windshield mount or stand it up alongside the gauges, and you’re guided turn by turn with an easy-to-read interface.

So, it’s a simple decision to download a navigation app before your travels. But first, you’ll have to choose between several options. Here’s our take on two well-known picks from Apple and Google.

Google Maps interface
Google Maps App Google

Google Maps vs Apple Maps: features and design

Whether you’re buying a new car or picking a travel destination, how something feels is a significant consideration. If a product or place doesn’t appeal to your emotions, how can you enjoy it day after day? At the same time, essential criteria like a car’s MPG or a destination’s attractions give you the function or experiences you want. Apple Maps and Google Maps offer varying degrees of appeal and utility for different types of users. Let’s go over their details.

Google Maps: straightforward, trustworthy navigation

If you’re all about getting from point A to point B and aren’t fussy about pretty graphics, Google Maps could be your pick. The app is all about logic and precision, with data points and visuals to help you get where you’re going.

Features include:

  • Search bar with buttons for local amenities like gas or restaurants
  • Displays ETA, remaining distance, and the next turn
  • Current road conditions and traffic
  • Shows roads, landmarks, and businesses
  • Option for multiple stops on a route
  • EV charger info, including compatibility and charging speed
  • Routes designed to optimize gas mileage and safety
  • Downloadable maps for off-the-grid trips
  • Available for all devices

Visually, the map itself uses pale shades of green and gray and has a somewhat cold appearance. When you’re venturing into the unknown, that doesn’t matter. But it’s also good to have a nice-to-look-at interface when driving hour after hour.

Apple Maps: warm visuals and unique features

Like its other products that blend art and science, Apple Maps brings users a fun, functional experience. The interface is reminiscent of a video game, while bespoke details help modern adventurers maximize their travels. 

Features include:

  • Warm, friendly graphics, buttons, and fonts
  • Shows ETA, remaining distance, and the next turn
  • Major city navigation, with 3D landmarks and public transportation routes
  • 2,000 city guides from Lonely Planet and AllTrails
  • Create your own city guides to share with friends and family
  • Real-time EV charging availability info 
  • Routing to include EV charging stations
  • iOS 17 users can explore trails in local, state, and national parks
  • Downloadable maps for going off the beaten path
  • Only available for Apple devices

Compared to Google Maps, Apple Maps has a more welcoming look. Warm colors and friendly fonts give it a fun personality, adding to the excitement of exploring new places.

Apple Maps interface
Apple Maps App Apple / Apple

Apple Maps vs Google Maps: Which is better?

Between their razor-sharp navigation and abundant features, it’s nearly a toss-up between these two. But for us, Apple Maps edges ahead. Here’s why.

Apps are all about the user experience. Central to that is their look and feel. In this case, Apple wins out with its warm, welcoming appearance. Deeper colors and happy fonts make it a pleasure to view and use. Like your favorite video game, Apple Maps makes you excited to get started.

Apple Maps also distinguishes itself with innovations like routing through EV charging stations, tailored city guides, and trail navigation. Each of these helps travelers explore more and get the most out of every trip.

Google Maps is still an excellent app, with multi-stop routing and fuel-optimizing directions. Its availability on all devices also stands out.

Navigation apps are indispensable tools for travel. These vital programs get you where you need to go, wherever you are, and bring convenience and safety. Though Apple Maps and Google Maps are in close competition, we like the latter for its appealing looks and unique details. Whichever you choose, it’ll enhance your adventures.   

Mark Reif
Mark Reif is a writer from Stowe, Vermont. During the winter, he works as a snowboard coach and rides more than 100 days. The…
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