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Google Maps & Apple Maps: Cartography Comparison

When I linked to Justin O’Beirne’s analysis of Google Maps in May, I asked:

It’d be interesting to see the same comparisons between Apple and Google, as well as between old Apple Maps and Apple Maps today.

Not only did Justin deliver (for context, he designed and led the development of Apple Maps’ cartography), he’s started an entire series detailing the cartography of Google Maps and Apple Maps.

At its heart, this series of essays is a comparison of the current state of Google’s and Apple’s cartography. But it’s also something more: an exploration into all of the tradeoffs that go into designing and making maps such as these.

These tradeoffs are the joy of modern cartography — the thousands of tiny, seemingly isolated decisions that coalesce into a larger, greater whole.

Our purpose here is not to crown a winner, but to observe the paths taken — and not taken.

(Can you tell he left Apple in 2015?)

I couldn’t stop reading the first post in the series, in which Justin compares the choices Google and Apple have made for displaying cities, roads, and points of interests on their maps. Utterly fascinating and amazingly detailed.

I’ve always preferred Apple’s overall design and balance of their maps (which Justin’s data confirms), but, in my experience, their data (POIs and roads) was either old or inaccurate. My area in Rome seems to have improved in the past year, and maybe I should try Apple Maps again.

I’m looking forward to Justin’s next entries in the series.