Google Maps No Longer Embarrass Apple Maps

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Maybe I'm a bit too excited, but I toggle between Apple's (AAPL) Maps application and Google (GOOG) Maps multiple times a day, seven days a week. So, I notice even small changes.

When Apple Maps came out, it was horrible. Tim Cook should have never released it in its original condition. Steve Jobs would have been furious. At least slap a "beta" next to its name, like Apple did with Siri.

But, today, and presumably after the iOS 7 update, Apple Maps has come into its own. Despite the lingering absence of transit directions (at last check, Apple still suggests Google Maps and other "routing" apps), I now prefer to Apple over Google.

When I'm in Manhattan I don't use Google Maps for transit directions anyhow. I use the fair superior KickMap. And, in Southern California, I drive, bike and walk everywhere I go. I need an app most often for driving (80% of the time) and biking directions.

In my experience, I "randomly" select Apple or Google from my "travel" folder. Basically it's whatever one my eye sees and finger hits first. If it accomplishes the task, fantastic, I stop there. However, about half the time my initial selection underperforms. There some sort of deficiency that sends me running from Google to Apple or vice versa.

After the release of Apple Maps, I almost always had to ditch Apple for Google. It got so bad I went a month or two rarely even firing up Apple Maps. When it got us briefly lost on a Thanksgiving vacation, I gave up. When I started reusing Apple Maps, probably at the beginning of the year, I saw only minor improvements. But I kept with it, if for no other reason, to see if it was ever going to get better.

Over time, it has.

In the last week, I have noticed a marked improvement in Apple Maps I can only attribute to the iOS 7 upgrade. The example I provide in this article illustrates what I meant last week when I wrote Apple Wasted Its Time Making Over iOS 7. The cosmetic changes, as ho-hum as they are, feel a lot like change for the sake of change. Apple has nailed the mobile experience for millions of us; now they just have to tweak it to make it better and easier to use.

The screenshot on page two, taken Tuesday morning, as I was loading directions to a Pandora ( P) event I attended (details on that at another time) that night, excited the living heck out of me. And I'm not even a total tech geek.

Maybe it's been happening all along and I just never noticed, but I'm 98.9% certain this is new.

I started typing in the destination address and after only inputting the first two digits -- a 1 and a 2 -- Apple Maps suggested, as the screenshot shows, "1215 Bates Ave. From Sara Leeper." That's because I have an email in my Apple Mail inbox from Sara Leeper that includes that address.

That's smart. And it's that type of experience and subtle, yet incredibly useful integration enhancement Apple needs to keep making. Forget how iOS looks. Just make it work better! That will keep the device upgrade and hardware adoption cycles alive and well forever.

Apple Maps didn't just recall an address I had already typed. It went out of its way (if a smartphone platform can actually do something so human) to pull it from my email before I even punched in a quarter of the location. If it was wrong, no harm and no foul. But it was right, which makes things all the more convenient.

It's that type of on-the-ground practical experience Apple makes better. That's the the company's strength -- the marriage between its dominant hardware products and still-emerging and evolving software (the "ecosystem") that keeps more than enough people hooked to maintain a killer, high-margin business.

Even though I will, improvements in Apple Maps don't stop there. For example, when using a cellular connection, Google Maps has been placing me a block -- sometimes more -- from where I actually am. Apple Maps continues to get more precise, which matters when you're not dealing with a perfect grid-like network of streets and avenues.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

More from Opinion

It's Dumb to Think Legalizing Weed Is Still a Political Issue

It's Dumb to Think Legalizing Weed Is Still a Political Issue

AAP Exclusive: Cramer Says The President is No Longer on the Side of the Bulls

AAP Exclusive: Cramer Says The President is No Longer on the Side of the Bulls

Why It Makes Perfect Sense for Netflix and Amazon to Buy Up Movie Theaters

Why It Makes Perfect Sense for Netflix and Amazon to Buy Up Movie Theaters

2 More Reasons to Sell All Your Stocks and Run Away

2 More Reasons to Sell All Your Stocks and Run Away

Sean Hannity's Link to Trump Lawyer Raises Questions: Doug Kass Insider

Sean Hannity's Link to Trump Lawyer Raises Questions: Doug Kass Insider