Google vs. Apple – Comparing Map Cartography

Former Apple lead for cartography Justin O’Beirne kicks off the first installment of his three part essay comparing the cartography of Google Maps and Apple Maps, which will promote his forthcoming book. It’s a good start but I wonder how objective O’Beirne can be reviewing his own work. Will he openly discuss any of the amateurish typography used in Apple Maps that seriously degrades the product in CJK asian language settings: hard to read colored text on light background, incomprehensibly long text labels that obliterate vital map information, and so on.

O’Beirne makes the case of an emerging “Universal” map that rules the digital mapped world. That may be so and it may be Google but in Japan, Yahoo Japan Maps has the best cartography. Despite all the analysis it comes down to this: is the map easy to read, does it convey the most important information at a glance?  I hope O’Beirne analyzes the “Glance Quotient” in future installments.

Compare the same Tokyo location from Apple, Google and Yahoo Japan below and decide for yourself which scores the highest “Glance” rating.

L~R: Apple, Google and Yahoo Japan maps views of Gotanda, Tokyo