When comparing Google Maps to OpenStreetMap, many instantly claim that Google Maps has more coverage in various countries. Due to that fact, it is definitely a leading map for many powerful countries, such as the US and Japan.
Even when we consider the fact that OpenStreetMap has lower coverage, it has some other pluses users enjoy. For example, with OpenStreetMap, you're capable to edit maps with the purpose to include new places. Sometimes, that is enough, but sometimes isn't, and users turn back to Google Maps because their street view is definitely more detailed.
In this article, we will make a comparison between Google Maps and OpenStreetMap, so you can make a proper choice of your own - if and when needed.
Google Maps' advantages and drawbacks
Google Maps, a product of the famous Google Inc, was launched way back in 2005. Since then, we have seen numerous updates and new features added, which upgraded the entire user experience of this map. Developers have definitely noticed changes that include API services, like advanced layers, route traffic, overlays, and various options for customization including title design, routing, directions, and much more.
When it comes to users, the biggest change was definitely the one when users were allowed to integrate their own map solutions.
Drawbacks, especially related to developers, would be that they simply cannot play with Google Maps' source code. Another fact, users like to know, is that often much information or data is hidden when you run Google Maps. Some say that Google Maps even created wrong borders for many countries.
This is why Open Street Map is becoming more and more popular
OSM, as an open-source project, brings some different benefits when compared to Google Maps. For example, it is maintained by the OSM Community, which provides maps of the entire world. The best thing about it is that it can be freely edited. Although many don't know, Open Street Map was created even before Google Maps, in 2004, and it was non-profit oriented in the beginning.
Users say that Open Street Map is a great choice instead of Google Maps because it contains almost all the features GM has, but it is a bit more customizable.
Geocoding and GeoDirection API
Let's say that you write a certain address on Google Maps. It will give you coordination, but you definitely cannot enter countless addresses. There's a limited number for getting coordination, and after that, you'll have to pay for the service.
On the other hand, Open Street Map offers a completely free service. Another good thing to keep in mind is that it's hosted on private servers.
When it comes to GeoDirection API comparison, we must say that Google Maps wins here, due to the fact that it will calculate not only the distance, by also the time you have to spend with a purpose to come to a wanted address. And not only that, Google Maps calculates it for different vehicles, and of course for the foot. OSM doesn't offer this solution. Google Maps also wins when it comes to design comparison - its vivid colors and amazing design are definitely more attractive to users.
Another fact that brings Google Maps more pluses is that has a place API service, meaning that you'll get a zip code, country, state, and city of a certain address, while that's still not the case with Open Street Map.
Different data layers and street view features
KML layer, earthquake data layers, as well as various layers related to fashion tables and heat maps are part of Google Maps, while OpenStreetMaps doesn't have these layers integrated.
The fact is that the street view feature is also better when you use Google Maps because it offers 360-degree views. For OSM, we can say that the benefit would be you can use all maps offline after downloading them. You're capable to download literally the entire globe (and do it for completely free), while Google Maps allows you to download and use offline only a small part of the entire map.
It's obvious that Google Maps still offers a better service and user experience. Yet, for those who know how to fetch various features from Mapbox or Mapquest services, and integrate them into OpenStreetMap, such difficulties can be solved. Users will probably continue to use Google Maps more, while developers can use their knowledge and get an improved and even better experience from OpenStreetMap. Keep in mind that OpenStreetMap represents an open data source, which means that it's available to literally any organization and user. Google Maps is a closed system. Anyways, it's probably best to use them both, depending on the situation and service you need at the current moment.