Google Maps and CarPlay

September 2018 ยท 2 minute read

I tried out Google Maps via CarPlay this week. I’m very glad Apple finally allows third party navigation. Lots of people have ignored CarPlay because they couldn’t use Google or Waze (which is also Google). Using CarPlay is definitely safer than a mounted cell phone.

But I am sticking with Apple Maps. I have a few reasons.

First and foremost is the design. I find the display on Google Maps to be far too busy. All the side streets show traffic indicators. In an area like Queens with a lot of side streets this results in far too much visual clutter. While I can see the utility of this feature I very much prefer Apple’s approach of highlighting only the route. I found it easier to understand where I was supposed to go.

Nearly as important is voice control. My steering wheel has a dedicated button to launch the voice assistant. Via CarPlay this is Siri. Siri does not work with Google Maps. To use my voice with Google I had to press the microphone icon on the screen. Again there is a safety issue here. I can trigger Siri without taking my eyes off the road and my hands off the wheel. It’s an Apple restriction, but it is one to consider. Even worse was that in my testing the Google Assistant did not hear me at all. Not sure why, but driving is not the time to troubleshoot.

Speaking of troubleshooting, while using Google Maps I experienced the only crash of the CarPlay interface I have ever seen. Suddenly I was back on the Hyundai screen and had to relaunch.

Finally, and this is a minor point, and a highly subjective one. I prefer the Siri voice. I find the Google voice to be terse. Mixing the two makes this all the more apparent.

Apple Maps is still struggling to shake off the terrible reputation it gained at launch. But I’ve not had a problem with it at all in the last year. And we have driven all over the northeast, not just the NYC metro area. It has not led us wrong yet. It will be interesting to see how Waze does when it comes out of beta. But for now I’m more than happy sticking with Apple.