Okay, so cycling navigation is a new feature in Apple Maps with the most recent iOS 14 update.
Up until now, Google Maps has been my go-to navigation app, whether it be for cycling or driving.
But since I'm going an iPhone user, I wanted to give the native experiences shot with this new feature and see how it does.
I'll be comparing the two apps on three different categories, including user interface, device integration, an overall route quality.
It's not really fair to judge the two by which got me to my destination quicker, because that can rely on so many different variables that are out of the apps control.
And just to be clear, this comparison is only really relevant to iPhone users since Apple Maps isn't available on Android devices.
I'll leave time codes in the description if you want to skip around the video, but with that said, let's get started.
Looking at the two apps side by side, there are some pretty clear differences.
Apple Maps is really clean and minimal, whereas Google Maps is more detailed, and offers more information about locations around you.
But in terms of which UI is easier to use, I got to give it to Apple on this one.
Whether you're calling it directions to a destination or adding a stop along your route, its simplified design, just makes it easy to read when you're standing alongside the road, in the sun, with glare on your screen.
Google Maps has packed so much into it as its evolved over the years.
I feel like I have to scroll past too many tiny icons to find what I'm looking for.
The clarity of the Maps on each app are both pretty on par with each other.
Both apps give you similar views while you're riding, with the essential information, next turn, distance, ETA, etc.
Apple Maps does have tiny icons at intersections to indicate whether there's a signal or a stop sign, which I really appreciate, especially when I'm trying to find a shortcut of my own.
One notable feature that Google Maps has over Apple though, is the ability to share your trip progress with others.
Apple Maps let's you do that while driving, but as of recording this video, that feature is absent from the cycling mode.
Instead you have to share your location through your contacts, which only works with other iOS users and doesn't give them your route.
This is a huge, probably even deciding factor for me.
For safety reasons, minimizing the amount of time you actually have to look at the screen while riding is key.
I usually turn off voice guidance because I don't wear headphones when I ride, and so I wouldn't hear it anyways.
So the way each app uses the device for alerts is pretty important to me.
No surprise, Apple Maps works much better with Apple devices.
When you're approaching a turn, the screen will automatically wake up with the whole app interface that you can interact with, without having to unlock the phone.
It's really good at getting your attention without being too distracting.
You can also access the app just by tapping on the screen to wake it up.
Pretty nice considering I can't unlock my phone while riding with my face mask on.
Google Maps, however, appears at the push notification, then I have to unlock my phone to view, which is a huge drain on the battery.
I also recently got this Apple Watch Series 6 with LTE service, and since both apps are available on the Apple Watch, I feel like I don't even need a phone at all when I go for a ride.
Both Apple Watch apps give you all the necessary information.
The vibrations are subtle, yet noticeable, and the always on display is great for being able to look down at my wrist without having to take my hands off the handlebars.
All right, so this is where I'm gonna need a second opinion.
Both apps did an admirable job of recommending me the most direct route that prioritized bike paths and bike lanes.
But I live in a pretty flat suburban area, somewhere called Lexie in Hilly San Francisco, where the route you choose makes all the difference in the type of ride you're gonna have.
Let's get her take on all this.
Hey Logan, how are you?
I'm good, so when you go out for a ride on your bike, what are the road conditions typically like?
So I live in San Francisco, and for anyone that doesn't know the city, it is very, very hilly.
There are a lot of steep climbs depending on where you live, but most of the time, if you're going from one place to another, you're going to encounter at least a few pretty steep climbs.
So between Apple Maps and Google Maps cycling features, have you noticed a big difference in the route recommendations?
My general impressions about Apple Maps and Google Maps to cycling directions, specifically for San Francisco is that, I feel that Google Maps is more likely to give me the route that I would probably normally take myself if I wasn't relying on navigation directions.
Apple Maps was generally able to give me probably the fastest route whole up.
But it also factored in a lot of things like Hills, and even when I toggled on the avoid hills segment, I was still getting routes that were probably a little bit more difficult than I would like to take.
And also sending me up some roads that were a little bit more trafficked and potentially a little bit more dangerous.
But if I'm using an Apple Watch, I definitely prefer the interface and the navigation ability and turn by turn on Apple Maps, obviously on the Apple Watch.
So it sounds like Apple Maps might get better overtime as it learns each city's streets and and how each rider is maybe veering off the recommended routes, right?
Over the past few weeks, I've generally notice that Apple Maps has significantly improved in the offerings and the routes that it's giving me.
I think it will get to as good of a level as Google Maps is at the moment, in San Francisco specifically.
And I have noticed as well that I do really appreciate how Apple Maps does have a sign, say for example, in the route thing.
Look, this is really steep, you're probably gonna have to get up and walk your bike.
So overall, after a week or two of testing, is there one app that you prefer to use more than the other?
I really think that for me, Google Maps really does win this comparison just because it's a little better for not taking up the super state streets and basically spending more time on my bike, than off my bike, pushing it up really, really steep hills.
So it seems like declaring a winner here isn't gonna be so easy.
As you heard Lexie say, she prefers Google Maps because it knows her area better and the Hills in it.
And I think I'll be using Apple Maps for cycling now because I'm squarely in Apple's ecosystem.
And alternate routes aren't that important to me.
That's not to say I won't keep using Google Maps for driving directions, but that's a whole another video.
Thanks for watching.
You wanna know more about the bike that I'm riding, you can watch the video I made about buying it.
Make sure you subscribe to CNET for more reviews and comparisons, we'll see on the next one.
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