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Friday, August 03, 2012, 06:54 am PT (09:54 am ET)

How Apple's new vector-based Maps leave Google Maps looking jittery


I can see for miles and miles

Even better, highly efficient vector maps allows Apple to load up a large area of maps you can continue to zoom into even after you've entered Airplane Mode. This means that if you load a map of San Francisco then turn off network access, you can still zoom in and out all over a very large surrounding area without getting Google's zoomed in jaggies and blank grid spaces.

Apple's iOS 6 Maps app still complains when there's no data connection, but it will let you continue to zoom in and out of nearby areas you haven't even previously visited, because it can continue to smoothly render the efficiently lean vector map data it has loaded.

After loading San Francisco and going offline, one can browse over 300 miles (480 km) south (nearly to Los Angeles), 335 miles (540 km) north to the Oregon border, and 300 miles east to the middle of Nevada, down to the primary city street level (in sharp detail but with few road labels).

Attempting the same task on an existing iPad, Google's bitmapped maps run out of steam just 35 miles (56 km) away in Palo Alto (below), and on the edge of its cached area, images degrade poorly when zooming, with blurry text and jagged road lines.



Apple's new vector maps can deal far more gracefully with a lost data connection, allowing you to zoom in and see details with clarity, even when you can't load local details such as secondary road names (below, the same area offline).



After loading San Francisco and turning off data, Apple's vector data could coast offline all the way down to LA (380 miles, 611 km) before degrading to the point of not being useful (below top, vs. restored data connection below bottom).




On page 3 of 3: A brief history of Google Maps and iOS