Go where? Apple Maps draws criticism

The latest version of the iPhone's operating system has its own mapping program -- but it's been roundly panned for giving inaccurate directions and locations.

By TheWeek.com Sep 20, 2012 4:59PM

Credit: 2012 Apple Inc
Caption: Apple iPhone 5The iPhone 5, which goes on sale Friday, has been receiving glowing reviews in the tech world. However, the normally impeccable tastemakers at Apple (AAPL) are being slammed for one misguided decision: Dropping Google Maps from iOS 6, the operating system that comes with the iPhone 5 and is currently available for download for owners of previous iPhone iterations.


Users say the replacement mapping app, Apple Maps, gives wildly inaccurate directions (particularly for overseas locations) and fails to identify public transportation systems in big cities. It's marred by so many glitches that a Tumblr page showcasing the errors has already hit the Web. Apple reportedly eschewed Google Maps to distance itself from Google (GOOG), whose Android operating system has become a serious rival to the iPhone.


 Is dropping Google Maps, one of the most useful smartphone features ever, a deal-breaker?


Apple Maps is certainly a step down: Most people were "hoping Apple was going to come out of the gate strongly with its own Maps app," says Jamie Lendino at PCMag. The company usually "looks at the market, see[s] what other competitors have done, and then comes in with its own product that often upends existing ideas... with an extra dose of polish." But Apple Maps is a mess. It may "takes years of refinements" before Apple Maps is functional; meanwhile, iPhone users can only pray that Google Maps will soon be available in the iPhone app store.


And it bodes ill for Apple's future: This is the first time that Apple has offered an inferior product just so it could screw another company, says Anil Dash at his blog. It raises concerns that Apple, which earned the allegiances of users with a laser focus on quality, "will start to regularly compromise its user experiences in order to focus on its squabbles with other tech titans."


But the iPhone still has an edge: Apple's competitors "are already attempting to capitalize on the controversy," says Carl Franzen at Talking Points Memo. Nokia, which recently released its Lumia 920 and 820, "took to its official blog to advertise the superior quality of its digital mapping and location services." However, the maps debacle doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker for most people. Since iOS 6 was released earlier this week, users have been rushing to download it.


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4Comments
Sep 20, 2012 5:51PM
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Back in the day when MapQuest was the mapping authority, I once tried another service to map a route from my house to the nearest hospital.  It had me making turns "over" divided expressways, not once, but twice, and at one point running me through a neighborhood before having me make a turn to make that last cross-over, instead of travelling another 3 blocks straight and then turning onto the feeder road that passed in front of the hospital.

Perhaps, since I was asking for directions to a hospital, the software felt like I needed a reason to go there also.

I'm not positive, but I think that company ended up getting bought out by some newfangled search service.

 

Just pointing out that sometimes it takes a few itterations to get things exactly right.  But I would have expected Apple to get the basics right before adding all the wiz-bang features.  Perhaps now that we've got someone else in charge, the flash will become more important than the substance.  If that trend continues, you can quickly say bye-bye to $700/share.

Sep 20, 2012 6:47PM
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" Since iOS 6 was released earlier this week, users have been rushing to download it."  This is not an indication this is not a deal breaker. Many of those people aren't aware of the map issue. Many people update just because the phone shows an update is available.
Sep 20, 2012 8:28PM
avatar
Apple should contact Nokia and see if they can license Nokia's Drive, Maps and Transport which are better than Google's. That's what Amazon, Ford and Microsoft have done. Maybe Nokia would only charge another $10 per iPhone over what hey already get for other patents.
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