Apple Maps now more popular than Google Maps on iPhone, iPad

The company has worked to fix the flaws that plagued the app at its debut three years ago. The fact that Apple Maps is the default navigation app on Apple's devices has boosted its use as well.

The Apple Maps app has apparently put its faulty past behind it.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

After a buggy debut and checkered early history, Apple Maps is now used more frequently than Google Maps on Apple's mobile devices.

The iPhone maker revealed that Apple Maps is now used three times as often as its "next leading competitor," namely Google Maps, on Apple iPhones and iPads, the Associated Press reported Monday. Apple's navigation app tallies more than 5 billion map-related requests each week, the AP said. That's a major step for an app that was initially and widely criticized for its gaffes and inaccuracies following its debut in fall 2012.

The improvements to Apple Maps may finally bring closure to an unhappy episode for the company. At the outset, Apple Maps packed a number of blunders, from misplaced routes and locations to oddly distorted images. The effort was widely ridiculed and was a boon for competing apps such as Google Maps. The problems also prompted speculation that Apple had lost its ability to create quality software, following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs a year earlier.

The debacle forced Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue a public apology and led to the ouster of Scott Forstall, chief of Apple's iOS mobile operating system. At the time, Cook said that Apple "fell short on this commitment" and advised people to try alternative map programs until the company could resolve the issues with Apple Maps.

To gain back the trust of users, Apple has worked to correct the faults of its Maps app and has added new features such as mass transit directions.

Also in Apple's favor is the fact that Apple Maps enjoys certain advantages over its Google rival inside iOS. Apple Maps is built into iOS as the default and only navigation service. If you want Google Maps, you must install the app manually. Even then, Apple Maps remains the default. Ask Siri for directions or use a third-party app that serves up navigation, and Apple Maps is the app that gets triggered.

Without the ability to steer users toward its own app, Apple "would not be in the position they are in," IDC analyst John Jackson told the AP. "Not that they aren't improving the experience, but this helps the cause."

Google still reigns as the leading maps app overall, at least in part because it's available on both iOS and Google's Android mobile operating system, while Apple Maps is limited to iOS.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

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