When Google released its all-new map app for iOS last week, iPhone users frustrated with Apple’s offering pounced on it like starving lions on a buffalo, with 10 million downloads reported within 48 hours of it hitting Apple’s app store.
Despite the Apple Maps stories of stranded motorists and the like, it seemed that up to now no one had attempted to make an in-the-field comparison between Apple and Google’s respective offerings. Then we heard about CrowdFlower.
The crowdsourcing company decided to test out the reliability of the two services, and threw in Bing Maps as well to see how Microsoft’s offering fared against the competition.
The company framed its research around the following question: “When you ask for a restaurant, hotel or other business, how often do you get the right location?”
Its conclusion? “Apple Maps in the US is bad enough to be noticeable: you probably won’t throw away your iPhone, although you may miss a dinner reservation. Those of you using Apple Maps in the UK, however, might want to keep emergency food and water in the car.”
In fact, CrowdFlower’s stats show that with Apple Maps in its current state (remember, we’ve been told the more we use it the better it will get), users are three times more likely to get lost than if they use Google Maps.
The company arrived at its finding by working with a list of 1000 US businesses and 100 UK businesses. Addresses pulled from the companies’ websites were used as the reference data for the study.
CrowdFlower first wanted to see if the various mapping services gave a result when searching for each business.
“We had the crowd pull the same information from Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Bing,” CrowdFlower explained on its website. “In order to replicate the search experience of a typical user, we had people search for ‘business name, city’ first before trying different variations.”
Google Maps won out here, with listings for 89 percent (Apple 74 percent / Bing 79 percent) of the US businesses found, and 91 percent (Apple 47 percent / Bing 57 percent) for the UK ones. No, it’s not a typo. It really was just 47 percent.
Next the study attempted to gauge the accuracy of the location placement, considering a “major” error to be the misplacement of a business by more than a block.
In the US, Apple Maps scored a 3.4 percent major error rate. Bing Maps did well with 1.3 percent, while Google Maps scored 1.1 percent. In the UK, however, Apple Maps’ error rate hits a shocking 30 percent, whereas the other two services manage to score under 5 percent.
Overall, CrowdFlower calculated that US-based users of Apple Maps have a 71 percent chance of finding the business listed together with an accurate location. This compares with 88 percent for Google Maps and 78 percent for Bing Maps.
In the UK, Apple Maps clearly has some way to go – “You’ll get a good listing 33 percent for Apple Maps, compared to 88 percent for Google Maps and 55 percent for Bing,” CrowdFlower notes.
Of course, it’s still very early days for Apple Maps, and it’s sure to come on leaps and bounds over time, but it’s nevertheless interesting to see some figures on how it currently compares with its competitors.
If you’ve had a chance to get your teeth into any of these map services, does your experience mirror CrowdFlower’s findings?