Apple v Google - which map is streets ahead?

Yesterday Google Maps returned to replace Apple’s maligned Maps. We challenged Oliver Smith and Will Coldwell to see which is better

Google Maps 

Oliver Smith

Time to destination: 51 minutes

Apple’s own Maps app has repeatedly let me down since it unapologetically appeared in June. So I was grateful to see Google Maps return. But would it have the brains to find a prized spot on the home screen of my iPhone?

With Apple Maps relegated to a folder on the third home screen of my iPhone, I open Google’s app and search for the mystery destination both Will and I have been assigned. All I have is the name “English Georgian”. Google Maps tells me that English Georgian is a design shop in Chelsea Harbour, south-west London. A good start.

Using Google’s transit directions, I walk to High Street Kensington bus stop E and wait for the 328 towards Chelsea.

Having missed the first bus (not Google’s fault), the second to arrive takes me into gridlocked traffic surrounding Earls Court, where I nervously wait for 20 minutes.

After 30 minutes I’m a third of the way there, Google’s estimate of a 28-minute journey seems unlikely.

But finally some movement. The driver pulls past a series of roadworks outside Earl’s Court station and I jump off as Google sternly told me to “Get off and walk”.

Navigation becomes trickier as I enter Chelsea Harbour, while Google’s app does have street view (unlike Apple’s) they haven’t photographed this area. Spotting the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, I know I’m close, and as the 51 minute mark approaches, I arrive at English Georgian. When, over an hour later, Will turns up, we agree to use Google Maps for the return journey to the office.

Apple Maps 

Will Coldwell

Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Despite the obvious unlikelihood of Apple Maps assisting me in any way with this escapade, I reluctantly enter “English Georgian” into my iPhone with my chilly fingers crossed. A map of New Jersey appears on my screen, leaving me standing in the cold outside High Street Kensington Station wondering if I should have really brought a passport with me.

I leap onto a west-bound train with the intention of heading to Marylebone, where I assume I’ll find some fancy sounding shops, or at least a tourist information office. While cruising the Circle Line I ask a dapper-looking American sitting opposite me if he has heard of it. “Sounds like a Notting Hill Gate shop to me,” he drawls. Two policeman, a Fed Ex courier and a postman later and I’m standing in an antique arcade on Portobello Road. A woman selling vintage photographs racks her brains, while her colleague fumbles around the office for a copy of directory inquiries.

Suddenly the woman smiles: “Y’know, I think it’s off Fulham Road…” I run down to Ladbroke Grove Station and head towards Chelsea. After further finger pointing from another antiques dealer, I end up at Chelsea Harbour, where, after two hours of inefficient orienteering I find English Georgian (and Ollie), on the second floor of a shopping centre. Myself and Apple Maps, which is still convinced I should be on the East Coast of America, agree to disagree.


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