Google Maps is almost 6x more popular among smartphone owners than other navigation apps, according to new survey data from The Manifest, a business news and how-to website. Nearly 70% of smartphone owners use Google Maps the most, compared to 12% who use the second-most popular app, Waze.
Google Maps’ dominance is attributed to its in-depth data curation and attention to detail, explained experts interviewed for the report.
Using data captured from its satellite and aerial imagery, as well as its extensive Street View project, Google Maps offers a higher level of detail compared to its competitors. It captures building outlines and footpaths, even in remote rural towns.
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.
Overall, 77% of smartphone owners say they regularly use navigation apps.
“Navigation apps are useful,” said Olexandr Leuschenko, head of mobile stack at Ciklum, a digital solutions company. “It’s easier to use the functionality of apps than to talk to real people.”
However, navigation apps have a potentially negative impact on people’s behavior.
GPS Apps Can Diminish Innate Navigational Abilities
The survey 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.
The report offers different perspectives on how navigation apps impact people’s behaviors, sometimes in questionable ways.
For example, documented instances exist of people driving off cliffs or into dangerous environments due to a blind adherence to navigation apps.
“Do you really want to encourage people to a point where, when it disappears, or when the battery goes flat, they are in total shock and can do nothing?” said Roger McKinlay, former president of the Royal Institute of Navigation. “Technology isn’t magic – it is just a tool.”
Non-Driving Directions Most Popular in Northeast
Nearly 90% of smartphone owners surveyed primarily use navigation apps for driving directions. Smartphone owners in the Northeast, however, are more likely to use navigation apps for non-driving directions including cycling, walking, and public transportation.
Twenty-four percent (24%) of those surveyed use navigation apps for non-driving directions in the Northeast, compared to 12% in the Midwest and West, and 8% in the South.