Apple Maps beats Google Maps and Waze in navigation test

8 March, 2013 - Killian Bell
Apple Maps iPad

Apple Maps has received a torrent of criticism since its debut with iOS 6 last autumn, and its issues with accuracy have been well documented all over the web. So you might be surprised to hear that in a recent test by PC Mag, Apple Maps beat Google Maps and Waze at navigation.

The “secret” test was carried out by PC Mag’s John C. Dvorak. He was due to meet podcaster Leo LaPorte and marketer Glenn Rubenstein at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, then they all made their way to other places around the city. Dvorak used Google Maps to get there, while LaPorte used Waze, and Rubenstein used Apple Maps.

Dvorak didn’t tell the others about the test because he didn’t want them to “race around like madmen.” He added: “this was a battle of the systems.”

Waze failed miserably at getting LaPorte to Apple’s campus. “He was misdirected in one instance and took forever to get there,” Dvorak said, which ultimately led to Waze ranking third place in the test. Google Maps, which is widely regarded as the most accurate mapping system there is, also failed at this hurdle.

“When I finally got to the Apple facility, it told me I had arrived at 1 Infinite Loop when in fact I was at 4 Infinite Loop, which is farther up the loop,” Dvorak writes. Google Maps also advised Dvorak to take a longer route through town, which led to him arriving later than Rubenstein at the second stop.

Rubenstien was using Apple’s widely criticized Apple Maps, which, surprisingly, came out on top in all tests. Not only was it highly accurate, but it also found the fastest routes to each destination. “Glenn arrived at least five minutes ahead of me,” Dvorak says. “I gave the nod to Apple and now wonder what the fuss was about.”

Dvorak concludes that “Apple Maps still won this battle. So Apple got the last laugh.”

It’s worth noting, however, that this test was performed right on Apple’s doorstep, which is a major factor here. The company’s new mapping service has always worked well around California; it’s when it’s taken out of its comfort zone — particularly into foreign countries — that its data begins to fall down.

Most of the complaints about Apple Maps have come from users outside of the U.S., who have found its maps are nowhere near as accurate as Google’s. Apple Maps might be the best in California, then, but it’s unlikely to win that title in most other places.

About the author

Killian Bell is a freelance journalist based in Worcestershire UK. In addition to writing about all things Apple, he's one of the co-founders of the football site TitleTalk. You can follow him on and Twitter.