With Google Maps back on the iPhone following its two-month hiatus, we have to wonder: Is there any reason at all for iPhone owners to keep using Apple Maps?
Is there anything Apple's mapping app does better than Google's more mature (and reliable) counterpart? Any magical feature, gem of a shortcut, or marvel of an offering that will keep us from relegating it to a forgotten folder on our fourth or fifth screen?
"Nothing I can think of," said Telemapics president Mike Dobson. "Google has a lead simply through its industrious efforts and the fact that it's been going at this longer."
As Dobson points out, and as has been well-documented, Google has committed significant resources to building, improving and correcting its maps for years, and has the added benefit of using data from its search engine to discover what people want to learn about their cities and what hasn't yet made it to Google Maps.
So far we've been able to identify only the two, small-fry features that Apple Maps boasts that Google Maps does not. They're certainly not enough to make us choose Apple Maps over Google Maps when we need directions in a strange city, late at night, when our phone is running out of juice, but here they are:
First, Apple Maps integrates with Siri, which means asking for suggestions for stops on a road trip is extremely easy and, crucially for drivers, hands free.
Second, Apple automatically highlights certain businesses, such as gas stations, restaurants, and cafes, on its app to enable users to quickly navigate to a nearby business without having to do a search for train stations or coffee. Compare Google Maps (left) to Apple Maps (right) below:
Zooming in a bit further on Google Maps surfaces more detailed descriptions of buildings, businesses, subway stops, but the information is not visible as immediately from a bird's eye view as what's offered up with Apple's icons. That could save you, oh, seconds you might otherwise spend searching for "gas station" on Google Maps (though the jury's out on whether you can yet consistently rely on Apple's icons to accurately pinpoint open, operating businesses).
When it first launched, Apple's Maps app, despite its problems locating even major cities and lack of public transit directions, among other flaws, had several advantages over the previous version of the iPhone's Google-powered maps app. For example, Apple Maps boasted vector graphics, which load more quickly and smoothly, allow for offline navigation and use less data than Google Maps' raster-graphics based app. Apple Maps also offered iPhone users turn-by-turn directions, a feature absent from the previous version of Google Maps for iOS.
But guess what? The newest version of Google Maps has brought both features to the iPhone. And it has transit directions and it can locate Berlin.
Apple Maps is the default mapping service for the iPhone, which means users are likely to continue using it whether they'd like to or not. Click on an address from an email, text message or web browser, for example, and you'll see it through Apple's eyes, not Google's.
What's your take? What features have you found that Apple's Maps app has that Google's doesn't? Tweet to us at @HuffPostTech or weigh in below.