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
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.
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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