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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:03 PM   #1
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Geocentric App Developers Compare Apple's MapKit and Google Maps SDK




FastCompany has released a detailed comparison of Apple's MapKit and Google Maps SDK after interviewing the developers behind two popular geocentric apps.

Lee Armstrong (Plane Finder) and Bryce McKinley (Tube Tamer), who are experienced with both mapping platforms, criticized Apple for focusing on flashy features over base functionality, but lauded the company for MapKit's performance, low cost, and overlay features.

Both developers noted that Google had superior location finding services, satellite imagery, and 3D support, pointing out that Apple's satellite imagery was often blurry, dark, and lacking in contrast.
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The other issue is the way roads are drawn in the 'Hybrid' view. The Google SDK and, in fact, the Apple Maps app draw semi-transparent roads so that the street layout is marked, but you can still see the images underneath. In MapKit, the roads are drawn opaque, which means it's often pretty difficult to see much of the imagery.
Google maps shown at left; MapKit at Center; Apple's Maps app at right.The two did not shy away from pointing out the flaws with the Google Maps SDK, which include a limited Places API quota, slower performance, and the inability to add gradient polylines and chart overlays.
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"Subjectively, the current version of the [Google] SDK does not perform as well as MapKit," McKinlay says. "GMSMapView's frame rate is capped at 30fps, which is lower than typical for iOS and results in a slight but noticeable 'jitter' effect when panning and zooming the map.

"We can't do some of our more advanced features in Plane Finder like gradient polylines, chart overlays, or smooth moving planes with animations," Armstrong says. "We have some complex tiled overlays in Plane Finder: These are aviation charts that actual pilots use. With the Google Maps SDK these tiled overlays are just not possible right now."
Tiled overlays, which are not possible with Google Maps.McKinlay and Armstrong both agreed that that each mapping solution has both benefits and downsides. Apple has guaranteed longevity, fewer bugs, and its MapKit is easier for beginners to pick up and use, but Google's maps are more complete, have better satellite imagery, and superior search capabilities.

Because of its ease of use and the included features, McKinlay has stuck with MapKit for Tube Tamer, but plans to switch over to Google Maps SDK when it has fewer limitations. Armstrong uses a dual mapping system, integrating both Google and Apple Maps into his Plane Finder app.

Both suggest that Apple's MapKit is the superior choice for beginning developers. The full in-depth comparison of Google Maps SDK and Apple's MapKit, which can be found here, is well worth reading.

Article Link: Geocentric App Developers Compare Apple's MapKit and Google Maps SDK
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:07 PM   #2
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Apple isn't completely off its rocker then. Who knew?
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:09 PM   #3
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So Apple took one for consumers and the developers?
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:10 PM   #4
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"Flashy features over base functionality" -- a Forstall trademark.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:13 PM   #5
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"Flashy features over base functionality" -- a Forstall trademark.
Why did you put that in quotation marks?

Last edited by keysofanxiety; Mar 18, 2013 at 01:14 PM. Reason: I was a little rude before. Sorry!
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:14 PM   #6
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And yet you putting it in quotation marks implies that somebody other than you said that.
Did you actually read the article?
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:15 PM   #7
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Did you actually read the article?
Nope, and now don't I feel like a fool.

Sorry dude. **** day at work and just looking for an argument.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:18 PM   #8
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Might be a good idea to start the article by explaining quickly what MapKit is, and how it differs from Apple Maps.

From what I understand, it's an API that iOS developers can use to integrate mapping in their apps, but the comparison seems to imply Apple Maps doesn't use MapKit. Might be a good idea to elaborate on that part, as it might not be obvious for non-developers.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:21 PM   #9
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McKinlay uses a dual mapping system, integrating both Google and Apple Maps into his Plane Finder app.
Oh, I wonder if he should have said that publicly. The TOS for most of these SDKs explicitly forbid you putting other map providers' data on their maps. I used MapQuest for its business data in my app, and because of that, I had to pull their maps from the server instead of just dropping MQ-located pins onto MapKit.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:47 PM   #10
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So are they implying that Google maps LACKS "longevity" since they listed that on Apple's side.

Really? How is that a checkmark for Apple? Sounds like they needed more in that column to balance it out. I would say both companies have longevity.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:57 PM   #11
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If apple fixes their data problem, they have a beautiful GUI and solid API.

I have always felt it weak in area of searching and locating stuff, but that the turn by turn and overall interface is just absolutely first rate. Certainly the google IOS maps app looks like a fossil.

But the game is data. I should not see the correct address in both google AND yelp and be wrong in apple! Come on guys.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 01:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by samcraig View Post
So are they implying that Google maps LACKS "longevity" since they listed that on Apple's side.

Really? How is that a checkmark for Apple? Sounds like they needed more in that column to balance it out. I would say both companies have longevity.
He might be referring to the stability of the API. Google has a history of changing things up.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 02:00 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by samcraig View Post
So are they implying that Google maps LACKS "longevity" since they listed that on Apple's side.

Really? How is that a checkmark for Apple? Sounds like they needed more in that column to balance it out. I would say both companies have longevity.
I took that as not so much the maps or companies having longevity but rather the APIs. Given some of Google's history I wouldn't say it's unreasonable to give them an edge in the "may change everything without warning" category.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 02:02 PM   #14
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Nope, and now don't I feel like a fool.

Sorry dude. **** day at work and just looking for an argument.
haha you're funny^^
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 02:13 PM   #15
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In Belfast (UK) restaurants, bars, businesses are all in the wrong place on apple maps. Now I have seen this from time to time on google maps, but on apple maps it's just a mess. Although I like nice looking maps, accuracy is what I want, that is the only important thing and apple just doesn't do accuracy! Fail!
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 02:54 PM   #16
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Satellite Imagery

Out here in the boondocks where I live Apple's satellite imagery is infinitely better than Google's on my iPhone.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 02:59 PM   #17
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Meh. The worst thing about Google Maps is you can't get the traffic to stay chosen. The worst thing about Apple Maps is that the traffic sucks in every way.

Speaking as a user.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 03:15 PM   #18
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Nope, and now don't I feel like a fool.

Sorry dude. **** day at work and just looking for an argument.
I think that's the first time I've ever seen someone admit that on the Internet. Good for you man. Maybe the MR forums aren't so bad after all.

----------

I like well-balanced articles like this one, especially ones that have a developer's perspective. I think that these types of developer-based articles give better insight to Apple's goals and the direction they are heading than "analyst numbers" and "supply chain" charts.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 05:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by samcraig View Post
So are they implying that Google maps LACKS "longevity" since they listed that on Apple's side.

Really? How is that a checkmark for Apple? Sounds like they needed more in that column to balance it out. I would say both companies have longevity.
Hmm. You might not want to make a big deal about Google's "longevity" the same week they canned Reader...

Apple, obviously, has repeatedly deprecated APIs, and hardware, but they have generally done so for obvious reasons, and with plenty of warning.
With Google, on the other hand, no-one knows why they kill what they kill, and the pattern so far has not been much prior warning.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 05:22 PM   #20
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Hmm. You might not want to make a big deal about Google's "longevity" the same week they canned Reader...

Apple, obviously, has repeatedly deprecated APIs, and hardware, but they have generally done so for obvious reasons, and with plenty of warning.
With Google, on the other hand, no-one knows why they kill what they kill, and the pattern so far has not been much prior warning.
You're going to compare reader and Google Maps. Yeah. OK.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 05:40 PM   #21
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i hate the overlay.... if your trying to see the map....

Google looks like its better there.

The 3D is all well and good with its "wow" factor, to impress your friends, but you are not going to drive like this ....... you can't.

Unless your primary mode of transportation is a helicopter.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 05:51 PM   #22
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You're going to compare reader and Google Maps. Yeah. OK.
What is being cancelled is not JUST Reader as an app; what is being cancelled is the Reader API and the Reader service, as used by a large number of 3rd party apps.
So, uhh, what's your point again?

And claiming that Maps is so important to Google that it (or more precisely 3rd party use of its API) will NEVER be cancelled is just silly. You have NO IDEA the financial stresses Google will be subject to five years from now, or how and what they will cancel or modify so as to raise income.

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Originally Posted by Tech198 View Post
i hate the overlay.... if your trying to see the map....

Google looks like its better there.

The 3D is all well and good with its "wow" factor, to impress your friends, but you are not going to drive like this ....... you can't.

Unless your primary mode of transportation is a helicopter.
You're being exceptionally thoughtless if you believe the ONLY use for maps is driving instructions. I use maps in some form of overview mode (eg Google Earth or Flyover) for many purpose --- to get an overview of somewhere I'm going to visit, to understand some aspect of the construction or layout of the city I live in, to understand some history. Right now I have a friend who was planning to fly somewhere to check out development around some land she owned until she realized she could save money and time and learn what she needed to know by simply looking at the area in a 3D map view. Another friend was (true story) thinking of being involved with copper mining in a remote mountainous location and a 3D view of the area was extremely useful --- far more so than a flat satellite map.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 06:03 PM   #23
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Well the apple maps platform IS a great platform and ahead of google's in many ways.

The real issue is with the data they pull from. It is abysmal and full of errors. Fix that and they end up with an overall superior offering.

I always found it funny that apple took all the hate with Maps. While their fact checking clearly left a lot to be desired the data itself was supplied by a company with a very long history of premium mapping services and for them to offer such inaccurate data was shocking, Watching them pretty much get away with it while their client gets all the bad press was worse.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 06:03 PM   #24
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What is being cancelled is not JUST Reader as an app; what is being cancelled is the Reader API and the Reader service, as used by a large number of 3rd party apps.
So, uhh, what's your point again?

And claiming that Maps is so important to Google that it (or more precisely 3rd party use of its API) will NEVER be cancelled is just silly. You have NO IDEA the financial stresses Google will be subject to five years from now, or how and what they will cancel or modify so as to raise income.[COLOR="#808080"]

-
We can play this game then. Apple is no better/worse then. Both companies could go out of business. You have NO IDEA the financial stresses Apple will be subject to five years from now, or how and what they will cancel, or modify so as to raise income.

See how that works. I never said Google Maps was MORE or LESS likely to be "permanent." I only argued that I didn't think it was on the + side for Apple. I would call it pretty even. You can call it whatever you want.
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Old Mar 18, 2013, 06:04 PM   #25
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With the Google Maps SDK these tiled overlays are just not possible right now.
Incorrect, it may be impossible to do it via Google's servers but they can put their own overlay over the maps.
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