Apple trumps Google in 3D maps comparison

Ashleigh Allsopp
28 July, 2012
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Google launched version 7 of its Google Earth app for iOS on Friday, but a comparison between its 3D imagery and the 3D Flyover feature set to arrive with Apple’s iOS 6 shows that, despite being the first 3D mapping app for iOS, Google’s maps are lower in detail and resolution than Apple’s.

Apple Insider has published a side-by-side comparison of Apple’s version of Maps found in the iOS 6 beta and the new Google Earth app for iOS, both picturing San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where iOS 6 was first revealed.

The first comparison shows that Google Earth’s map is lower resolution than Apple’s, and shows “blocky” 3D structures. For a clearer example, Apple Insider points to the trees shown in both images. Apple’s version shows leaf and branch details, whereas Google’s map shows post-rendering that has caused squared edges and a lack of detail.

Google’s map also shows wobbly walls, whereas Apple’s show straight lines leading to a more accurate rendition of the building.

Google Earth 7 (Left); iOS 6 Maps (Right)


A second comparison shows that Apple’s Maps have a higher saturation than Google’s, making grass, buildings and other landmarks look brighter and more appealing.

Google’s 3D object rendering approach uses a “blurry-to-sharp” solution, but Apple continues to use the grey grids as seen in its current default iOS map app when areas have not yet loaded. These two approaches render the maps at about the same speed, says the report.

Apple Insider does note that Apple’s iOS 6 is in beta stage, so the Maps app is still subject to change before public release.

Google Earth 7 (Left); iOS 6 Maps (Right)


Google Earth 7 is available for iOS now, but the 3D functions are only supported on the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and new iPad, says the company.

iOS 6 is set to launch this spring, possibly alongside the sixth-generation iPhone, and will include Apple’s new Map app, as well as turn-by-turn navigation provided by TomTom, Facebook integration and more.

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