Apple Maps vs Google Maps for Cycling: Which is Better

Apple Maps has just launched cycling directions in Australia. And it is already doing a better job than Google Maps. If you have an Apple Device and cycle, you should definitely switch to Apple Maps for cycling directions.

I’m going to show you the difference side by side.

Apple Maps vs Google Maps for Cycling

Visually Apple Maps has looked a lot better than Google Maps for some time now. But when it comes to functionality, especially searching for locations within Australia Google Maps comes out on top.

But Apple Maps have been quietly adding new functionality which makes it so much better than Google Maps for certain things. If you’re taking public transport in Australia, Apple Maps provides live public transit in more cities than Google Maps. And now Apple Maps is able to provide cycling specific directions that make use of shared bike paths – something that Google struggles with.

I tested Apple Maps cycling directions vs Google Maps across a few cities in Australia. Most of the testing was done in Canberra, just because I know what the best cycling routes available are.

Here’s a test route I did. This is a common route that many people in Canberra will take for leisure or commuting.

Google Maps defaults to on road cycling.

As you can see above, Google Maps defaulted to cycling down the main road in Canberra. This is probably the busiest road in Canberra. It does have a bike lane beside traffic. It also has (according to crash stats) the most bike + vehicle crashes in Canberra. For casual cyclists there are much better routes.

I should also note that Google Maps also suggested a route where no cycle lanes exist. On a road that during certain times is quite scary for cyclists.

Apple Maps routed using bike paths

The same route on Apple Maps gave me the option to avoid busy roads. I could still choose the busy on road cycling route.

The cycling route Apple suggested makes sense. The bike path it suggests is the busiest bike path in Canberra. It’s popular for good reason! It provides quick and safe access down into the city with bike specific crossings and infrastructure.

Here’s why Apple Maps is better at cycling directions:

Apple Makes Better Use of Bike Paths

Although Australia doesn’t have the same cycling infrastructure as Europe does, in some cities we do have extensive networks of shared bike paths. I’ve found that Google Maps sometimes gives me an option to take Bike Paths, but almost always defaults directions to busy roads. In testing Apple Maps cycling directions I found it was almost always making use of these paths and because I could set an option to avoid busy roads it would gives these directions first.

This makes a massive difference to the quality of a trip. In the past I had to use my local knowledge to ride the best route. Now that route seems to be the default directions given by Apple Maps. This is massive.

Avoid Busy Roads on Apple Maps

Apple Maps gives you the option to avoid busy roads. No such option exists in Google Maps. Google Maps does let you know if you’ll be cycling on a busy road (sometimes).

Avoid Hills on Apple Maps

Apple Maps gives you the option to Avoid Hills. If you enjoy cycling but don’t quite have the fitness yet to get over the bigger climbs, Apple Maps can route you around Hills. I couldn’t find a similar option in Apple Maps.

Apple Maps And Public Transit

I can’t speak to the quality of public transit information on Apple Maps in every city. I do know that in Canberra, Apple Maps provides live transit info (including the location of the light rail in real time) where as Google Maps doesn’t have this data. This means if your taking a variety of transport options like cycling + light rail or scooter + rail, Apple Maps will provide a more seamless journey.

Which is Better?

I’ve struggles for years with cycling specific apps and maps in Australia that struggle with bike paths. These apps would always route me down busy main roads. For some cyclists this was fine. But for the majority of casual cyclists who are just commuting or going for a leisure cycle these were the wrong directions. Apple Maps is the first mapping app I’ve used that has been able to route directions correctly through my cities extensive network of Bike Paths. So if you’re a cyclist who makes use of Bike Paths, definitely make the switch to Apple Maps.

Apple Maps launched cycling directions on January 20th 2023. Its directions are already better than Google Maps on day 1! Hopefully this will encourage Google to do a better job.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve used Apple Maps cycling directions and if they’ve done a better job of routing.

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