From Consumer Reports…
Having put it through the paces we subject each portable navigator to in our test program, our original criticisms remain. But having more thoroughly tested Apple Maps alongside a Samsung Galaxy S3 running Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with Google Maps, we have a more favorable opinion–certainly more favorable than comments and articles that we’ve been reading online.
They conclude that Apple Maps is good, not quite as good as Google but still very good for navigation. They also reckon that, because there’s less customisation & tinkering options in Apple Maps it’s effectively safer than Google Maps.
They tested in NYC and found that both generally adhere to good routing mechanisms. However NYC is hardly a fair test-bed for where Maps is failing. That’s kind of like launching a startup in San Francisco and saying it’ll work well in rural France.
They also address an issue I raised about the 3D view. They called it a nice “novelty feature” and “not a component of navigation”. They’re absolutely right about that, as I said. However, this is a navigation app and system. It needs to feature only things that I need to get around, not 3D maps that offer no information to me as a pedestrian or driver. Flyover maps are cool to look at for a while, but it’s not a feature.
In typical Apple design ethos fashion, you can measure this feature in terms of usability by whether its inclusion is 1. Good to use and 2. Obvious. It’s neither of those.
Some reviews of Maps have been scathing, and most often wrongly so. Apple, as Tim Cook has stated, are not the only player in town (town being the app store – where Apple take a cut of the price anyway) so there’s plenty of options if Maps is bad in your area. As I said, I’ve found it quite reliable. Maps as an app is stunning, and better than Google maps, but the data needs to improve. And that’s tricky, but not impossible.