After scratching your head, trying to figure which GPS unit to buy, you may have come to a highly logical conclusion: why not just get a smartphone? After all, smartphones have GPS built-in, and map navigation software can take you the rest of the way in terms of finding points of interest and getting turn-by-turn directions. If you don’t already have a smartphone, you have a few options. The top smartphone platforms are Android, iOS (iPhone), Symbian, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry. But if Google Maps is a high priority for you, then you are best off with an iPhone or an Android phone. And if you are going to be using Google Maps exclusively (rather than downloading a third-party GPS app), an Android phone will likely serve you better than an iPhone. Here’s why:
Google Service, Google Software
It makes sense that Google’s own mobile operating system (called Android) would work best with Google Maps. When it comes to supporting the full range of features available for Google Maps for Mobile, Android phones pull it off the best.
Common Features – iPhone and Android Google Maps
Both the iPhone and Android versions of Google Maps include business listings (allowing you to quickly search nearby for places), traffic reporting, compass mode, street view, driving directions, public transit directions and walking directions. Both will let you navigate from your current location to a specific street address, intersection or place, and both allow you to save frequent and recent searches for quick navigation. Also, both Google Maps apps are free for iPhone and Android.
Features Exclusive to Android Phones
As of the time of this article, Google Maps for Android has a number of features that the iPhone does not. Most important is a true navigation system. On the Android version of Google Maps, the navigation works more like a standalone GPS device. It automatically updates your next turn based on your current location. With the iPhone, you have to constantly advance the directions in order to keep up with what your next turn is. This can be a huge distraction while driving.
Android also has “offline reliability,” which saves a cache of frequently used areas of the map so you can still navigate even if you don’t have a data connection.
These two features alone are enough to convince most prospective smartphone users to choose an Android phone for navigation purposes. But the Android phone also has access to more advanced Google Maps features that you may or may not use. For example, Google Maps for Android has a stronger integration with Places pages and Hotpot recommendations. You also get access to Google Maps for Mobile labs features, which allows you to try out experimental new features before they are released to the public. Google Maps for Mobile on Android also has voice search capability.
There is no clear winner in the Android vs. iPhone smartphone battle. But in terms of support for Google Maps, Android has the advantage in a few key areas. Whether this has a significant impact on which phone you ultimately choose depends on what kind of priority you place on free GPS navigation software.