Google Updates Maps for iPhone and Adds Watch Compatibility – How Well Does it Work?

Many (myself included) who use both Apple Maps and Google Maps contend that Apple Maps has gotten good enough that it is simply a matter of preference not functionality as to which one to use.

The one area though where Apple had a distinct advantage was in the Watch integration of Apple Maps. It is a brilliant implementation and takes navigation to another level. Its almost like wearing the internet. So when I saw that the new Google Maps upgrade included Apple Watch integration I wanted to test it to see if it had measured up to Apple’s implementation. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

The new Google Maps for iPhone has some well thought out additions like the ability to compare the times for transportation methods and better integration of Streetview.

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The image lower left takes you directly to StreetView. Very fast and easy

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The well designed to and from fields are followed by the time to destination of various travel modes

But I was really curious about the Watch integration. While it mostly worked there were enough design and implementation issues in this first revision that most Watch users will find it crude.

Can’t Get Enough of that Personal Info

When you first launch the Watch app, in classic Google style, it works very hard to give you no option but to add additional information to Google.

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Only two choices are presented for the user when first opening the app.

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Google, insistent on extracting more personal information, then forces the Watch user back to the IPhone App,

Still in Beta?

Google, insistent on extracting more personal information, then forces the Watch user back to the IPhone App. There you are immediately presented with this idiotic warning that the product is in Beta. Given that the product has existed in one form or another since 2011 on the iPhone and longer than that on Android and the desktop, one has to wonder, just when will it be fit for service? Saying the Google Maps App is still in Beta is like saying I am still in Beta but that I will grow up someday. Hah! In your dreams.

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Yikes! Still in Beta after 4 years? Hello?

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Just can’t get enough can they?

Cluttered Watch View

A Watch has very limited real estate and when you are driving that limited real estate can become a liability if you try to jam too much information in to. Google does just that. Apple presents one simplified high level view in a large bold presentation.

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Apple’s Watch display offers only high level, critical info in a very large type

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Google presents too much information on the small screen to quickly absorb at driving speeds.

Non Persistent Display

On the Apple Watch, a raise of the wrist to the steering wheel both turns on the watch face and by default, presents the next navigation instruction. One of the more annoying attributes of the Google Maps for Watch is the fact that the Maps driving direction panel is not persistent and disappears from the screen afer the watch goes to sleep. A wrist raise to activate the watch display brings up the clock and the user is required to double click the crown to get back to the Map direction. This could be some limitation of the Apple API, I have no idea but it makes the product almost useless in a real world setting.

No Haptic Feedback

When wearing the Apple Watch and approaching an upcoming turn, it gently taps you on the wrist 200′ away from an upcoming turn. It’s like the hand of God the Internet reaching out and touching you. It is a very personal and very useful implementation of haptic feedback. I have been told that the feedback varies slightly for left and right hand turns, although you can’t prove that by me. Its a great feature and makes driving in a strange town much less stressful. Google, to its loss, has not implemented that feature yet.

Bottom Line

The Google Maps Watch implementation needs improvement before it would incentivize anyone to switch. And in its current form, makes navigation less safe rather than more safe.

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Google Updates Maps for iPhone and Adds Watch Compatibility - How Well Does it Work? by

4 thoughts on “Google Updates Maps for iPhone and Adds Watch Compatibility – How Well Does it Work?”

  1. I suspected it wouldn’t, it would take Google quite a bit of hardwork to fit into an apple equipment. Apple map has got the distinct advantage of coming from the same shop.

  2. You are acquiring a lot of bling. You should check into google and apple wearables such as earrings and necklaces. I bet you know someone in further upstate NY, North of the Southern tier that could really make them sparkly for you.

    As to your reference to how google will endlessly want to know about where you are and what you are doing …I wonder if a google necklace will take secret pics of whom you are dancing with? They’ll probably market it as the ultimate keepsake.

    As for me, I’m waiting for a google nose ring. I wonder if it will monitor my health and be used by insurers to determine my suitability and the costs for various types of insurance. I bet google could sell that info for a lot of money.

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