Compare alternate routes in Maps apps for iPhone

If you’re hitting the road with your iPhone, you’ll probably be relying on either Apple Maps or Google Maps to help you get to your destination. But before you settle on an uncertain route, remember to check the default routes and compare alternate routes in both mapping apps to find the best directions, and don’t be surprised if both apps give you very different suggestions initially. If you haven’t done so yet grab Google Maps for iPhone before taking off, it’s better to have the app already on your iPhone before you hit the road so you don’t have to download it while driving.

Choosing alternate routes is pretty much the same in both mapping apps:

  • Route your trip or destination as usual
  • See the alternate routes by tapping on the fainter lines on the maps to see the different directions

Now comes the harder part, which is picking which directions to use. It is highly recommended to look at the actual directions before leaving rather than waiting until you’re on the road and relying on turn-by-turn navigation, this way if you see something that doesn’t look right, you can find a better route before it’s too late and you’re in the middle of nowhere. Also, keep in mind the shortest distance routes are not always going to be the fastest, especially in times of inclement weather or with heavy traffic.

Don’t forget to show the traffic information on both Maps apps as well, since that can give you a significant heads up on road delays. Google Maps has a bit of an advantage regarding traffic too, simply because more people use the service and it actually gives you a heads up ahead of time on traffic information on routes in general:

Google Maps traffic info shown in route

The more I’ve used both Apple and Google’s mapping services, the more I have found that each offers an additional route that is completely unique to their services, as is demonstrated in the screenshots. As a result, I always aim for the routes that are shared between both services and that are the most common sense, and often that is not the first route displayed by either app.

Without making this a debate about which mapping app is better, you may find the two apps also give different total miles and time estimates, even for the same routes. And while Apple Maps typically does a great job on major highways, it has picked some unusual routes before once you get off onto side roads, presumably to route a destination faster. For this reason, I highly recommend using both mapping apps and comparing the same trips with both, then just using some plain old common sense to make a decision on the final route to take. Happy travels!

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