- Google Maps is six times more popular than other navigation apps among smartphone owners, according to survey data from The Manifest, a business news and how-to website. Nearly 70% of smartphone owners use Google Maps the most, compared with 12% who use the second-most popular app, Google-owned Waze. Overall, 77% of smartphone owners say they regularly use navigation apps.
- Google Maps' dominance is attributed to its in-depth data curation and attention to detail, explained experts interviewed for the report. The Manifest's survey data supports this observation. It found that at least 25% of navigation app users prefer their favorite app because they believe it offers better directions.
- The survey also found that 36% of navigation app users look up directions prior to leaving, 34% use navigation apps en route, and 30% use them both prior to leaving and en route equally.
Given the popularity of maps with mobile users, the survey of navigation app use is good news for Google, which introduced ads to its Maps app in 2016. Last year, the tech giant launched a campaign to promote Maps as a way for small businesses to reach local customers. These moves are part of Google's push to secure a larger piece of the local advertising market, which is forecast to reach $19 billion this year. Similarly, Waze in March added a feature to let small businesses buy localized in-app ads as part of its efforts to monetize its traffic data.
Conversely, the survey appears to be bad news for Apple, which has had its own navigation app since 2012, replacing Google Maps as the default mapping service for Apple devices. Apple is currently in the process of completely overhauling Maps, which has been widely criticized, to provide more detailed maps using its own data, according to a report last month from TechCrunch. The tech giant CarPlay infotainment system currently only supports Apple Maps, but later this year will be open to third-party apps like Google Maps and Waze, per The Verge.
Meanwhile, Waze yesterday debuted the Connected Citizens Program, which will lets U.S. cities use the app’s crowdsourced traffic data to make more accurate and timely infrastructure decisions. Waze extended a partnership with Esri, which provides geolocation data, to offer free live traffic alerts for cities. The information may help city officials see real-time accidents and traffic issues, and possibly use the data for making decisions about building roads and adjusting the timing of traffic lights, per a separate report by The Verge.