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Two Reasons Why Apple Maps Will Be Your Favorite

Apple (or Scott Forstall) kind of blew it when he launched a half-baked product, Apple Maps, with iOS 6. Or at least this is the message most of the reports you find in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere are sending. But is the devil as black as they paint him? Here are two key reasons you'll love to use Apple Maps.

Apple Maps

Apple Maps is Easy on Your Data Plan

The option of saving 80% data traffic is not just an idea: it is a fact with iOS 6. The guys from Gizmodo have done some testing using data metric iOS app Onavo, and the results are simply amazing. And the explanation is pretty obvious: Apple Maps are vector maps, which means they are much lighter and infinitely zoomable, while Google Maps use raster graphics. An image, such as a bitmap, is built of pixels, which makes the image a grid of pixels.

A vector graphic is totally different: it doesn't carry information about color, but instead how to draw the entire image. To understand the main difference between raster graphics and vector graphics we could take an image with a white background and a black letter in the middle. With raster graphics, the file carries information about which pixel is black and which is white, while in vector graphics the instructions are like . . . draw a letter to black.

This is why the Apple Maps are lighter, load faster and use less of your limited data plan. To test the data usage of the two map applications, the guys from Gizmodo searched for different points of interest, and performed several zooming actions on both iOS 5 (GMaps) and iOS 6. During the tests, the guys from Gizmodo found that Google Maps used 7-times more data than Apple Maps: 217 KB for the same actions Google Maps used 1.3 Mb. Amazing, right?

Apple Maps Caches Data for Offline Navigation

In addition to saving data, vectors can also enable fast and fluid panning as well as saving much more offline data in case you lose data connection than raster graphics can. AppleInsider carried out some tests and found that Apple Maps saved way more data for offline browsing than Google Maps, which runs on iOS 5.

To test this feature, they navigated to the San Francisco area and then put the iPhone in Airplane mode. The results: Apple Maps could show the entire continent of high level maps, and they could navigate most of the state of California. Furthermore, the app covered detailed, street-level areas on a 740 miles (1200 km) scale, and could view the areas in 3D.

In contrast, when taken offline, the much-praised iOS 5 Google Maps wasn't able to show anything beyond the local level, and the app couldn't present a hybrid view of the location even though it had some standard and satellite images cached, while Apple Maps could.

Apple Maps
Apple Maps
The above reasons show that Apple Maps has been built on a solid base and is close to Apple's standards, helped by the accuracy of TomTom maps, a world leader in navigation. There is work still to be done though.

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    bibo9 years ago

    Wow, does GMaps for iOS still use raster data?