Justin O’Beirne’s piece on how incredibly advanced and detailed Google Maps is getting is a must-read. It clearly makes the case that Apple Maps is far behind in this regard.
Here’s the thing though. I use maps for one thing primarily, and that’s to get from point A to point B. 99% of what I use maps for is that and that alone. I have to believe this is the overwhelming majority use case for most people. With that in mind, which is more important: that you can easily see on your lock screen the road you’re supposed to be driving on, or that you can count the number fan blades on the top of a random skyscraper in Chicago? Because on an iPhone, you can do the former in Apple Maps but not in Google Maps.
So in terms of actual use case, Apple maps is way, way ahead. And it’s this sort of “on-paper numbers versus reality” gut check that makes me skeptical about whether the future is really AI, as is so often popular to say these days. I’m not so sure that it is. The things that I do on a computer don’t benefit from AI. They do benefit from a well-designed interface, and Apple is light years ahead of Google on this. With the exception of Chrome, I can’t think of an app or platform that Google has made that is a delight to use. The “Google Maps Moat” is protecting a castle that nobody cares about. Maybe time will prove me wrong, but this is how I see it right now.