Apple Maps 80% More Data Efficient Than Google Maps

While Apple Maps has been a sore point for Tim Cook and team on iOS 6, Apple’s home-built mapping app and service uses 80 percent less data than the rival Google Maps, which has appeared on the iOS platform and the iPhone since inception. When Apple announced iOS 6 and debuted the iPhone 5, it made the jump away from Google Maps in favor of its mapping solution with data provided by TomTom’s TeleAtlas mapping unit. As a result of that switch, the maps app uses vector-based graphics, rather than the raster-based graphics employed by Google Maps on iOS.

apple-ios-6-preview-mapsEssentially, with vector-based graphics, every time you move and the Maps app refreshes to display new and updated mapping imagery relative to your location, it just downloads additional data rather than having to re-download the entire map view again. This causes the new iOS 6 Maps app to be 80- percent more data efficient. Raster graphics used by Google means that every time your position shifts and the map shows a slightly different view, the Maps app would have to re-download everything and that leads to higher overall data consumption.

This may be an important point for consumers who are now faced with tiered and metered data plans.

According to Onavo research, Apple’s map app may be up to 7X more data efficient in some cases.

Our data experts performed an identical series of activities on Google Maps and Apple Maps that included searching for several US cities, addresses and airports and zooming in and out to locate specific locations. On Google Maps, the average data loaded from the cellular network for each step was 1.3MB. Apple Maps came in at 271KB – that’s approximately 80% less data! On some actions, such as zooming in to see a particular intersection, Apple Maps’ efficiency advantage edged close to 7X.

So while Apple still has a lot to get right for its Maps app, the more efficient use of data by the mapping app may be incentive enough for some users right now.

The data advantage with Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app was first reported by Gizmodo‘s Casey Chan.