Don't call it a comeback. Well, actually, do. According to a new report from the Associated Press, the much-maligned Apple Maps is now more popular than Google Maps on iPhones.
The once-lost mapping service launched to a critical panning back in 2012, when it was mocked for its wildly inaccurate cartography and light feature set. However, Apple doubled down on its development, hiring and buying key map app developers and the investment seems to have paid off – according to Apple, it's now used "three times as often" as its nearest competitor, a competitor which can only feasibly be Google Maps.
That accounts for 5 billion mapping app requests according to Apple. In terms of third-party verification of the claims, Apple's leading position holds up according to research firm comScore (in the US at least) where it gives Apple's service a modest lead over Google's offering. However, its stats are based on how many people use a service in a given month, rather than how often they return to it.
And that's an important distinction to make. While there's no denying that Apple's Maps has come on leaps and bounds, the numbers are undoubtedly inflated by the way Apple Maps is integrated into iOS. As the default maps provider, any Spotlight or Siri searches will point you first towards Apple's Maps, rather than a competitor, while the default setting will also be noted and taken advantage of by third-party apps looking to piggy-back on mapping data. This will likely result in a number of false-positive uses of the app. And, also, just because a user tries an app during a month, there's nothing to say they necessarily go back to it – a user who uses Apple Maps accidentally once during a day but also uses Google Maps for a couple of hours immediately afterwards would be recorded in the same way.
That's not to knock Apple's improvements – additions like public transport info are very welcome. But you'll still need a guide to decipher which company is really leading the pack in the race to point you in the right direction. [AP - BetaBoston]