It might be blasphemous to say that there is an alternative to Google, but when it comes to Google Maps Street View there are such alternatives. The issues with Google Maps are well documented, and the everyday user has had to endure the inconsistency without having a reputable provider to rely on. That has certainly changed and new providers are actually working diligently to correct issues and damage along your route with smart Dilapidation Reports. If you haven’t found that Google Maps Street View has issues or bugs per se, but isn’t quite as advanced as you need it to be – many of the below alternatives might just have those missing functions you are seeking.
Let’s discuss all the ways you can measure distance and get places in Street View without turning to old faithful, Google.
When roads are closed, under construction or completely new – Google Maps is not always across it in real-time. Smart alternatives use systems that actually capture an accurate Street View shot using GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping data. Sound complex? Well, it is, and it’s the reason many businesses are using GIS desktop mapping within their work. Farming, emergency services, transport, construction and countless industries have a real need for accurate aerial photography as it provides spatial distance and thematic mapping that can be compelling for professionals who need to visualise a place or understand an area that poses a threat or hazard.
If a team of architects and builders are discussing the development and they don’t have their architectural impressions in front of them, bringing up Google Maps Street View is not going to be an adequate option. A superior alternative is GIS and desktop mapping, like RapidMap which is used by a number of industry leaders. Comparatively, Google Maps Street View functionality is also not very user friendly for mobile or web if you are relying on it in a professional setting, which can make things tedious when it’s the only map option you have in your arsenal.
City-specific map apps
There are some cities where the local government has invested money in a program that provides an accurate map function. This is a fantastic benefit for locals, especially if this mapping service integrates with other council services, like public transport, parking and anything else that is adjacent to travel and directions. RapidMap has been a force to reckon with in this space. Of course, the danger here is that you become so accustomed to using this one program that when you travel overseas or to the next city over you don’t know what program to use.
There are also limitations if you want to find how long it would take or what transportation options are available from one city to another, leaving with you a local capture only. If you aren’t planning on going anywhere and would prefer to use something very familiar, see if your city has created one such map app. This option might be more about map aesthetics than actually choosing the most reliable option.
Apple and Android maps
The functionality of Apple and Android maps has really improved over the years, although Apple Maps didn’t have to do much to improve upon that first iteration, let’s be honest. This can be incredibly useful if you are someone who uses voice commands (Siri, etc) frequently as you can simply tell your phone where you need to go and you will be en route. Most cars now have smart car functionality (Apple Car, for example) and you can even use your voice command when you are driving and can be rerouted instantly.
You can also set up some regular routes (home, work and school) so that using maps is even more frictionless and can assist those in the family who are not as good with directions. While Street View is possible on your phone map system, it can be quite slow so most phone users will just use the 2D option to save time and data. As far as we are concerned, Google Maps Street View is better than Apple and Android Maps and is embedded in more websites.
MapQuest is a similar type solution to the GIS mapping, and the real value of this program appears to be the ETA function. This is where Google Maps has really fallen short, as the recent damage and street changes are rarely included and thus cannot portray an accurate representation of the journey and route restrictions. You can also adjust the view to be a 45-degree angle if you so wish. One limitation is that MapQuest is only embedded in up to ten thousand websites, whereas Google Maps has greater saturation on a number of websites and programs.
The parent of MapQuest was Yahoo and AOL, which means it now belongs to Verizon as part of their AOL acquisition in 2015. It had originally only allowed for one route suggestion but now users can choose the route they want from two to three options.
If you are a Bing user then you probably have used Bing Maps before. We aren’t big fans of this interface personally, and find Google Maps to be a cleaner and more reliable option. Switching between Street View and 2D mapping can also be a process in itself and we will keep an eye on this to see if Microsoft will invest in making this more sophisticated. They update maps less frequently than Google and certainly less than GIS desktop mapping and so it’s probably only best in a pinch so that you don’t encounter damage, delays or a literal road going nowhere.
Satellite navigation devices (TomTom)
Remember the TomTom? If you are a 90s kid then you will have fond memories of punching in an address into your TomTom and letting it direct you in Street View to your destination. Granted, the Street View functionality is certainly different to what we know now but it was a pretty efficient system. Some earlier iterations were battery operated which was a recipe for disaster when navigating your way home from the middle of nowhere and new batteries nowhere in sight. That said, if you were a company that had a fleet of cars that required mapping devices then this would be more than suitable and a lot more affordable than equipping the cars with a high-tech mapping system or the drivers with new smartphones.
Other free Street View map options
Contrary to what you might believe in a Google-dominant world, there are many alternatives to Google Maps. HERE WeGo is a great free option, as well as MAPS.ME. Both of these options provide offline functionality and are compatible with iOS, Android and BlackBerry. The creators have really invested in the look and feel of these apps, so check them out if you are looking for something a little different.
There are a number of great Google Maps alternatives in Australia, it really does depend on what you are looking for and what level of detail is required. The future looks to be moving in the direction of GIS mapping, as it has so many benefits to users and businesses with personal and professional applications.