MapQuest vs. Google Maps

By Andrew Tennyson

You can send map data between computers and mobile phones using both MapQuest and Google Maps.
i Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

MapQuest and Google Maps are Web-based mapping frameworks. Both are free services accessible through any computer-based Web browser as well as through apps on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. Although similar in many respects, there are a few key differences between MapQuest and Google Maps, primarily in terms of how the two services handle directions, the number and type of available overlays, filters and sharing capabilities.

Getting Directions

MapQuest and Google Maps both feature direction tools that provide you with detailed, turn-by-turn instructions for navigating from place to place. Google Maps has a “Get Directions” tool that you can activate just to the left of any map. With this tool, you can input waypoints and then calculate various routes from which to choose, if more than one route is available. You can also switch between four modes of travel – By Car, By Public Transit, Walking and Bicycle – in some areas.

MapQuest, on the other hand, has a discrete “Route Planner” tool that launches on a new page when accessed via a Web browser. As with Google Maps, you can input waypoints and change your route by dragging a highlighted line around the map. In addition, MapQuest allows you to select whether you’d like your stops and waypoints reordered to make better use of travel time.

Available Overlays

MapQuest and Google Maps both feature satellite and standard street map views, Both offer comparable coverage in the United States, Canada and Europe, but Google Maps has broader coverage for the rest of the world. With both services, you can toggle between map and satellite views by clicking an icon in the upper right corner of any map. You can also zoom in and out, although satellite zoom levels vary by location. MapQuest and Google Maps allow you label locations by adding graphical map markers, or pins, to your maps. These labeled locations can then be saved for future use. Live traffic conditions are available in select metropolitan areas as well.

Google Maps offers two additional overlays not found on MapQuest. With Google Street View, you can drag an icon to a location on a map and then view a panoramic image as if you were standing at that location yourself. Google also has launched an experimental overlay called “Experience MapsGL,” which provides three-dimensional and 45-degree fly-over views of certain areas.

Map Filters

You can filter your map results to display nearby points of interest with MapQuest as well as Google Maps. Say, for example, you’ve called up a map of downtown Boston, Massachusetts. If you input a search for “Italian Restaurants,” a series of markers will appear on the map identifying locations matching your search criteria. You can then click on these markers for additional information on each point of interest. Additionally, MapQuest features six toggle switches at the top of its maps, allowing you to quickly filter points of interest on a map based on six categories: Lodging, Restaurants and Bars, Travel Services, Shopping, Activities and Local Services.

Sharing and Exporting

With MapQuest and Google Maps, you can print, email and embed links to maps on other websites. You can send Google Maps data to GPS devices manufactured by companies such as Clarion, Garmin, Insignia, Motorola, NAVIGON and TomTom; however, MapQuest maps can only be sent to Garmin GPS devices. MapQuest has native Facebook-sharing capabilities, while Google limits one-click sharing of map data to Google Plus users.

Fun With Map Vs. Map

Map Vs. Map is a website that lets you have a little fun while directly comparing Google Maps and MapQuest. Visit the website and type in a location. Map Vs. Map displays location results from Google Maps and MapQuest side-by-side on the same screen, allowing you to compare the look and feel of the two mapping services. You can also get side-by-side directions between two points if you are interested in seeing how Google Maps and MapQuest compare in terms of their ability to help you navigate.