When Gmail hit 1 billion downloads early last month, it was a pretty safe bet some of the other Google apps would follow closely behind. The next entrant to the exclusive club came only a few weeks later, and this time it's Maps taking the spotlight. Even if it occasionally sends us through winding mountain roads and quiet neighborhoods during cross-country trips, we should give a round of applause for the app that always got us where we needed to go!

Note: the total number of downloads is a tally of the accounts that have downloaded the app. Repeated downloads on the same account, even on multiple devices, are only counted as 1 download. That means there have been more than 1 billion Google accounts that have downloaded the Maps app at least once.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 10.57.03 PM

Ok, we're a bit late, but this deserved a post.

If we look back in time a little bit, it turns out that Google Maps used to be in the lead. It was the very first app to hit 50 million downloads back in 2011. To anybody that was around for the early days of Android, this probably comes as no surprise. Alongside speech recognition, Maps and turn-by-turn navigation were among the most powerful drivers in the early success of Android. In almost every comparison with the iPhone, once people finished talking about 3rd-party keyboards and widgets, the real selling point almost always boiled down to having the best navigation experience.

As one of the oldest and most powerful components of Android, Maps has gone through a pretty massive metamorphosis over the last 6 years. When the app first launched, it offered little more than mapping between two points and very limited navigation. In subsequent updates, it has learned to show walking directions and transit schedules, display scaled 3D maps, give us indoor navigation and mall maps, warn about accidents in real-time, and even travel to the Great Barrier Reef. That's just some of the big stuff!


Left: Maps on the HTC G1 (image: smartphonemag.com), Middle: Maps v5.0, Right: Maps 8.1

We know there's still a lot to come for Maps, and not just the app. Google has only just begun with Android in the Car and the far more experimental self-driving cars, and the lessons learned in those projects will surely find their way back here. Come on, give it up one more time for the latest entrant to the exclusive Billion Downloads Club!


Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Camiel Hirschberg

    I really, really, don't want to start a flame or anything, but what is the most downloaded app in the App store ?

    • markostamcar
      • Camiel Hirschberg

        but, i wanted to see the iOS stats :'(

        • Lisandro O Oocks

          this site is not for those questions. look elsewhere.

          • Christopher Modiano

            that was unnecessarily rude

    • nxtiak

      Apple does not disclose # of downloads per app. They release top downloads per year lists or top 10 app of all time but no numbers.
      Usually it's Facebook, WhatsApp and Candy Crush.

    • Jephri

      No worries about a flame war. Actually on second thought... I'm going to intolerance you!

      • APOI


  • Peter H.

    Congratulations Google. Does this statistic take into account that it comes preloaded on Android devices?

    • SSDROiD

      I'm pretty sure it contributed to it :P
      I guess the really true fun starts with guessing what non-preloaded app will reach 1 billion downloads first :P

      • Lisandro O Oocks

        would they know if so? what if you sideload it to a kindle fire?

    • Nevi_me

      A preloaded app shouldn't have an impact if it's never updated via the Play Store.

  • http://androidforums.com/members/kwest12.html kwest12

    I'm seriously considering reverting back to the old Maps (the one before they stripped it of functionality, ease of use, etc).


    Has anyone else done this?

    • Nathan Walters

      I don't get what the big fuss is about. The new maps functions beautifully for me. If there were some features that Google removed, they can't have been that important because I haven't noticed any missing features yet.

      • nxtiak

        Not having a "just driving" view kind of sucks.

        • andy_o

          But that's not important cause Nathan Walters doesn't use it. Come on, get with the program.

      • HugePotato

        Not being able to measure distance beetwen two points is pain in the ass. I don't know why they removed it...

        • Rafael Luik

          Long-press where you want to go, tap the card showing the name of the location, tap the button to see the route in car/walk/public transport. This screen contains the distance.

      • abobobilly

        Google have been taking the idea of "maps" a bit too literally. Its beautiful, i'd give i that. But man it makes me angry when i am out on the road. Because functionality wise, its a f*cking disgrace.
        - It won't pick up GPS signal (sometimes) unless i turn on a Data connection along with "high accuracy" mode. Other apps like Sygic would work absolutely perfectly.
        - I can't measure distance between two points.
        - Inability to have PROPER offline maps (with possible offline searches for the saved POI's). Here, Sygic is just SO MUCH better, quicker and reliable. And just as detailed as Google Maps. (but its not free, so ... )

        I have stopped using Google Maps app on Android since a long time now, and have moved to Sygic, which just kicks Google Maps in the balls. I wouldn't want to support a company who doesn't give a sh*t about people's opinion (showing attitude because its "their" service. Well, they can have their service).

        • Jephri

          How do you like working for Sygic?

          • abobobilly

            So if i am speaking "For" Sygic, i am working for them?

            perfect logic friend.

          • Jephri

            Why thank you! I thought it was pretty good. But perfect? You flatter me.

      • shonangreg

        I go hiking and biking in my area, and I've made quite a few custom maps (My Maps). Maps on android can no longer load them.


    • Lisandro O Oocks

      i tried holding on for the longest time, but one day it just changed. i don't think it even exists anymore. True story(afaik).

    • tlingitsoldier

      Aside from the fact that Latitude was removed, I love the newest Maps. However, I understand why some people aren't fans. Hopefully this helps you: http://www.androidheadlines.com/2014/01/regress-use-older-version-google-maps-without-interruptions-update.html

  • br_hermon

    Cody is totally right. I can remember when I bought the original Motorola Droid. I cared more that it had a fully functioning GPS in the phone more than I cared about widgets. At the time, stand alone GPS's were still popular with consumers. The concept of completely riding myself of that device for the same functionality in my phone was a HUGE selling point.

    • turdbogls

      agreed. I bought the car dock. and gave the Garmin to my wife.

    • Jason Brown

      I still remember when I was deciding btwn getting an og droid and a bb. went with the og and never looked back

  • rap

    Saved me this week! I usually use co-pilot (offline maps) because I have to pay per MB for data but didn't have the device with co-pilot. Tried to find my own way with a state map after missing an exit and got lost. Finally tuned on data so I could use maps. Was very thankful I had it so the daughter wasn't late to camp.

  • Matthew Fry

    Congrats Maps! Maps is one of the most used apps on my devices and definitely one of the most important. Now if they could just put a HUD in the windshield and feed me directions through it, I'd be happy.

  • abobobilly

    Apart from the "beauty" aspect, please do enlighten me how did these maps actually evolve? For me, its going backwards day by day.

    • miri

      Progress is measured by how well it can attract and retain new users and how effectively the average user can use it. In optimizing for general usability the obscure/weirdly implemented features that power users like tend to fall by the wayside.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Man, we came a LOOOOOOOONG way since early android days

  • Tom Vera

    I still use ver. 6.14.4. try each version and always go back Works best for me . using LG G2 with LG G2 car dock and CarHome Ultra