Google Maps is far and away the most popular navigation app, study finds

Google Maps driving mode black bar
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A MarketWatch study analyzing speed traps in the U.S. found that an overwhelming majority of people use Google Maps as their navigation app.
  • After surveying 1,000 drivers in the U.S., the results were that 70% of people used Google Maps for navigation. 
  • Waze and Apple Maps were runner-ups in the study, with each app being used by about a quarter of the population surveyed. 

Apple Maps and Google Maps are two of the most popular navigation apps available, and each app has passionate fans who claim one is better than the other. In some ways, it's representative of the iPhone vs. Android debate. However, according to the numbers, there's one navigation app that stands out from the rest. In a recent MarketWatch study, 70% of respondents said they use Google Maps to avoid speed traps. 

Navigation apps help people find their destination, but they provide other functionality as well thanks to crowd-sourcing efforts. Apps can let drivers know about hazards, road closures, accidents, and speed traps. This MarketWatch study focused on the latter and how navigation apps help drivers avoid tickets. Researchers studied 1,000 people in the U.S., who gave insight into their driving habits with regard to speed traps and how navigation apps play a role. 

Google Maps blew every other navigation app out of the water when it came down to usage. The study found that 70% of people use Google Maps, in part to help detect and avoid speed traps. Waze, which is also owned by Google, came in second with a 27% usage rate. Apple Maps came in third, just behind Waze, with 25% of respondents saying they use Apple's navigation app. 

In total, MarketWatch says 34% of people have been warned by one of the navigation apps about a speed trap at least once. 

The results of a MarketWatch study about navigation app usage.

(Image credit: MarketWatch)

The results are interesting because the iPhone is extremely popular in the U.S. Annual reports have found that Android users are consistently switching to iOS each year. While fewer Android users purchased iPhones in 2023, 13% of all iPhone purchasers came from an Android device. Plus, iPhones make up over half of all smartphone shipments in the U.S. With all that said, it figures that iPhone users are foregoing the inbuilt Apple Maps app in favor of Google Maps, based on the results of the MarketWatch report. 

Combining the users of Waze and Google Maps, an overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. turn to Google for navigation. 

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.

  • gomezz
    I was going to say that surely you mean "most commonly used" rather than "most popular" and I see the article does indeed conflate the two.

    My GPS/sat-nav usage history is firmly embedded in the very first Garmin devices and my old Garmin 2610 motorbike-hardened sat-nav is still my favourite for long car journeys too despite its maps being stuck in 2009 so I use Google Maps on my phone only for the last mile for destinations I am not familiar with.

    (actually as of last week that is no longer the case as I changed my car after 24 years to one with sat-nav built in - Garmin based as it happens)
  • davinp
    But Apple doesn't make its map app for Android, only on iOS whereas Google Maps is available on the web, iOS and Android.

    When Apple released their Maps app, they kicked out Google Maps from the iPhone and didn't allow you to change it back to the default app
  • ilhe1s
    I find that while I use Google maps (web and app) I have friends that I ride Motos with who use Apple maps and it's always lacking in accuracy and updated information such as routes and roads. I've actually seen people end up at the wrong location with Apple maps. I know Google has had years to develop v Apple but I feel that Apple maps just isn't quite there yet.