Is Apple Maps really less of a data hog than Google Maps?

Karen Haslam
6 October, 2012
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Reports are claiming that Apple Maps is more data efficient that Google Maps, and our UK counterparts thought they would put these clams to the test. Here’s what they found:

Having reset our statistics for Cellular Usage (General > Usage > Cellular Usage), made sure we had exactly the same Maps location loaded, we turned off Wi-Fi and started our search.

Our findings suggest that there is some truth in the suggestion that Apple’s Maps is less of a data hog in some respects, but it consumes more data under some circumstances.

When searching for a specific location (e.g. Buckingham Palace) Apple Maps sent more data (28KB compared to 12KB in iOS 5 Maps) but received less (64KB compared to 148KB in iOS 5 Maps).

Apple Maps generally consumed less data when giving us directions from our current location. A similar search from our current location in London to a postcode in Croydon saw iOS 6 send 20KB and receive 140KB, while iOS 5 sent 40KB, received a massive 1.4MB.

However, when we started searching further-a-field things got a bit more data heavy on iOS 6 Maps. When we asked for directions from Paris to London iOS 5 came out trumps, sending 27KB and receiving 788KB, compared to iOS 6 which sent 45KB, received 907KB. It was worse from London to Paris: iOS 5 sent 45KB and received 1.7MB, while iOS 6 sent 121KB, received 1.9MB.

Of course its when you are abroad that you are most likely to be concerned about data consumption, so for now we wouldn’t recommend that you get too carried away with Maps when in foreign lands.

Apple Maps Satellite View

In our tests satellite view generally used less data on Apple Maps when compared to Google Maps on iOS 5, with a few exceptions.

For example, when viewing Paris in satellite view iOS 6 received 327KB, almost a third of the data consumption of iOS 5 (971KB).

A satellite view of the UK took up 1.5MB of data on Apple Maps compared to 4.8MB data on iOS 5.

Searching for a route from Buckingham Palace to Croydon in satellite view also saw iOS 6 trump iOS 5: iOS 5 sent 41KB and received 1.7MB, while iOS 6 sent 24KB and received 475KB.

However, Apple’s penchant for getting a bit flash from time to time sees the whole world view in satellite view consuming more data in iOS 6 than it does in iOS 5 Maps. If you view the whole world in satellite view expect to consume 426KB of data in Apple maps compared to Google Maps 176KB.

Switching back to a standard view of the whole of the UK also consumed more data on Apple Maps, this may be because the screen is larger. The standard view of the UK on iOS 5 received 310KB, while iOS 6 Apple Maps consumed 491KB.

We also found that just opening Maps on iOS 6 took more data than opening Maps in iOS 5. For example, opening a standard view of the UK took 2KB in iOS 5 compared to 5KB in Apple Maps. That much data’s not a big deal, unless you are constantly opening and closing your Maps app.

Similarly, just closing and opening Maps on the same location saw iOS 5 send 1KB and receive 1KB, while iOS 6 sent 5KB and received 12KB.

Of course the other area where Apple Maps lets itself down is actually identifying the correct location when you search. Also, we note the lack of detail in the standard view when compared to Google Maps.

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