Recently, I started doing something I hadn’t previously: I began using Apple Maps instead of Google Maps while I drive.
I had been a big fan of Google Maps, but this Christmas I got an Apple Watch. I noticed that when I use Apple Maps, my watch buzzed before I was supposed to make a turn. I also realized while using Apple Maps that it was simpler and cleaner than Google Maps.
For years, the competition between Google Maps and Apple Maps was largely settled. When Apple Maps debuted in 2012, it was an uncharacteristically not-ready-for-prime-time product. Apple CEO Tim Cook even made a public apology for Apple Maps in September 2012.
Since then though, Apple Maps has improved to the point where there’s not much difference between the two.
But, as always, there are bigger stakes in this fight than you may have been led to believe. The Financial Times ran story this week stating that Apple was in a “silent war” with Google, in which Apple was contemplating taking a bite out of Google’s 92% share of the search market by not making Google the default setting for 1.2 billion iPhone users.
Such a move could hit Google where it hurts: advertising revenues. As Apple builds up its advertising business, Google is looking vulnerable. If Apple wants to build its ad business at Google’s expense, it has a lot of tools at its disposal, including the iPhone and the Apple Watch.
As a consumer, I see the Google-Apple war as a win since it forces them both to improve their products and work harder on improving search. As a longtime Apple fan, I lean toward Apple, which also cares more for consumer privacy than Google. But I’m open to whoever makes the best product.