Apple maps has been getting quite a bit of attention ever since it was released and not the good kind of attention either. It has been under heavy fire from people claiming how awful and frustrating it is to use. As mentioned before on this blog Apple’s Tim Cook has already issued a formal apology. However amongst all this scrutiny there is something positive that Apple maps does much better than Google maps. Apple maps is incredibly more data efficient than Google. Roughly five times more efficient.
Now to each their own but that seems to be a pretty big upside especially with providers doing all they can to get top dollar for that precious data. For us that have been lucky enough to keep our unlimited data this shouldn’t really be an issue.
The experts over at Onavo have investigated how both apps use the data over the cell network. And here are the findings.
Standard Map View
In Standard Map view, every time you search for or open a new location, such as a restaurant or the address of your next meeting, your maps app has to download the street map data you see on the screen. If you pan or zoom in or out, that data needs to be downloaded as well.
Our data experts performed an identical series of activities on Google Maps and Apple Maps that included searching for several US cities, addresses and airports and zooming in and out to locate specific locations. On Google Maps, the average data loaded from the cellular network for each step was 1.3MB. Apple Maps came in at 271KB – that’s approximately 80% less data! On some actions, such as zooming in to see a particular intersection, Apple Maps’ efficiency advantage edged close to 7X.
Apple Maps’ overwhelming data advantage in Standard Map views is because of Apple’s use of vector graphics. Instead of downloading map tile images every time users zoom in or out of a map view, Apple’s vector graphics approach resizes dynamically, resulting in the drastically reduced data usage we observed, as well as smooth resizing and fast responsiveness.
However, it seems that even in Satellite View, Apple has considered data usage. Our tests found Apple Maps uses only half as much data as Google Maps for the same Satellite searches and views (an average of 930KB for a single page load on Google Maps vs. 428KB for Apple Maps).
Apparently Apple gets away with this by using Vector graphics which resizes the image as you zoom whereas the Google app uses raster graphics which downloads new maps every time you zoom in or out.
Since the map is used more than you’d probably care to admit and as you inch closer and closer to that data limit near the end of the month you might want to switch back to that annoying Apple map app.