Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Design Comparison of Apple Maps and Google Maps

UX Launchpad (via Ole Begemann):

Google has decided, in many places in Android and their iOS apps, to feature search prominently. And that prominent placement puts the microphone to the right of the text field. Apple, on the other hand, puts their microphone in the keyboard itself.

Apple Maps doesn’t need to feature the microphone because, unlike third-party apps, it can use the hardware home button or “Hey Siri.”

Ok, it looks pretty abstract like that. But the big takeaway is that they’re doing the same thing, in the same order, but Apple uses five screens and Google uses six. But, again, fewer steps doesn’t necessarily mean better! We’ll analyze those screens in a moment.


Apple doesn’t have public transit or biking information. Maybe they’ll add it one day. But for today, that means their flow can be a lot simpler. The single feature they can match with Google is “Choose alternate paths, including walking”. So Apple featured it on their third screen with a label rather than using more complex and heavyweight controls.


Once again, tapping the “directions” button changes the flow from three screens to two. Once again, they drop the user directly into a screen that assumes your starting location is where you’re standing. Once again the suggestions switch from general guesses to a search-while-you-type pattern.


I love this comparison. Google is optimizing for driving because everything is one tap away. Want to cancel the trip because you’re looking for parking? One tap. Want to figure out how to turn on the traffic map? One tap. Want to re-orient the map to the direction you’re facing? One tap. It’s a very flat system where everything is right there, even things like seeing what time it is our checking to make sure your battery is ok.

Apple is optimizing for driving because it’s tucking everything away. There’s far more canvas available to show the map. When you drag the screen with your finger, it snaps back into place rather than putting you in another mode. It doesn’t show the current time, but it does tell you how many more minutes you’ll be driving, and your estimated time of arrival. Apple is doing what Apple does, for better or worse. They’re cutting as close to the bone as they possibly can. Nothing is assumed to be necessary on this screen.

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