Apple Maps reveals high-security spots, Google Maps adds the right detail

Google v Apple map
Google, left, obscures what Apple, right, reveals

Apple Maps has been called blurry, inaccurate, and unfinished, but there's one area in which the Cupertino company didn't skimp on the detail: high-security locations.

In a three-way comparison of iOS 6 Maps, Google Maps, and Nokia Maps, The Verge found that Apple paints the clearest picture of military installations that are sensitive to various countries' national interests.

Turkey has the most to complain about. Its island of Imrali counts Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Öcalan among its high-risk inmates in a maximum security prison, and it's as clear as day on iOS 6.

Dutch military contractor IBL, deemed a "tank workshop" by the site, was also fully visible in Apple Maps when looking at Personeelsvereniging Tankwerkplaats, Netherlands.

The same is true for a vital military airstrip on the Japanese island of Minamitorishima.

Apple didn't make any exceptions for its home country, as the United States' Aberdeen Proving Ground hasn't been obscured in Maryland.

Likewise, the U.S.'s joint interests as part of NATO are outed in Geilenkirchen, Germany.

The Google Maps Difference

Google, which has provided its mapping service to the public since 2005, had made it a habit to obscure these perceived security risks for a number of years.

Blurring, pixelating, and overexposing are some the ways in which Google Maps and the Google Earth software hide sensitive locations.

But Google said that "it has never blurred any images," according to a statement to The Verge.

Instead, satellite images arrive blurred from its "variety of sources," even though the sources are often the same providers used by Apple and Nokia.

New Google Maps Update at 45 degrees

Apple is busy apologizing for iOS 6 Maps, asking for everyone's patience and suggesting third-party alternatives. Google, meanwhile, hasn't rested on its laurels, adding 45 degree imagery for 51 new cities.

This birdseye view is now available in 37 U.S. and 14 international locations. Most notably, the Google Maps update shows off the Leaning Tower of Pisa and its famous 5.5 degree angle.

Leaning tower of Pisa

Look at that lean (Credit: Google)

Not forgetting about the tried-and-true aerial imagery, Google also updated the high-resolution satellite maps for 17 cities and 112 countries.

The entire city of Lancaster, Calif. no longer shows up looking like a blurry field of nothing - a technique Apple sure could borrow for military installations worldwide if Google is done with it.

Via The Verge, Google

Matt Swider