Apple’s New Maps App Fails To Impress iOS 6 Users

ios-6-maps-app

Apple’s in-house mapping solution was widely anticipated following the deterioration of its relationship with Google and its acquisition of three mapping companies. In iOS 6, Apple finally introduced its own mapping solution with an ambitious tagline – “[iOS 6] Maps changes the way you see the world.”

With the public launch of iOS 6 yesterday, Apple’s ambitious description is coming true to a certain extent, although not exactly in the way Apple would have wanted. Millions of iOS 6 users all across the world are now realising that Apple’s mapping solution is inferior to the Maps app in earlier iOS versions, which was powered by Google’s data.

Google’s mapping ambitions began way back in 2005, with an acquisition of a Sydney based company, and since then Google Maps have amassed enough data to span most popular locations across the world. The company also puts in a huge amount of resources to capture street level imagery of major cities.

Mapping is difficult and Google’s head start in the mapping arena can’t in anyway be offset by Apple’s three acquisitions and countless partnerships. But that’s no reason for users to sympathise with Apple, since the company has maintained a perfectionist attitude towards whatever it does in the past, be it old or completely new.

Here are a few examples of the shortcomings in Apple’s mapping solution:

  • Transit directions are missing, which Apple hopes to compensate for by relying on local app developers.
  • However cool Flyover 3D mode might be, it’s not nearly as useful as Google’s Street View. Even if it were as useful, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 users, who had access to Street View in earlier iOS versions, are left without either of those features in iOS 6.
  • Directions support isn’t as expansive as Google Maps. Same goes for a lot of other iOS 6 Maps features like turn-by-turn directions, 3D buildings, business reviews, local search and traffic.

The locations of certain points of interests are also pretty hilarious, as are some screenshots from Apple’s 3D maps. Here are a few images illustrating that:

weird-ios-6-3d-map
 (via @jenjaman)

weird-ios-6-3d-maps-2
(via @nebev)

ios-6-maps-howrah-bridge
(via @PSoum)

ios-6-maps-food-joint-in-water

Goof ups in Apple’s Maps app have also spawned a Tumblr, titled “The amazing iOS 6 Maps.”

Apple’s competitors and other players in the Mapping business are making most of this opportunity by promoting their own solutions. Nokia, for example, put up a blog post highlighting how its own mapping solution is better than Apple’s. MapMyIndia, an Indian mapping firm, reduced the price of its Indian iOS navigation app from $49.99 to $29.99. We’re in fact surprised that Samsung didn’t use this point to its advantage in its latest string of commercials.

TomTom meanwhile issued a statement to MacStories indirectly putting the blame on Apple for an unsatisfactory Maps app. TomTom, in case you do not know, is one of Apple’s mapping partners for the new Maps app:

When people use a map, their experience is determined by two things. Firstly, the underlying content, notably the maps. This is what TomTom is currently supplying the mobile industry with and it is what gives their maps the best foundation. Secondly, user experience is determined by adding additional features to the map application, such as visual imagery. This is typically defined and created by the handset manufacturers and third party software providers on the basis of their own vision and needs.

[...]

[W]e did not develop the map application. Rather, we only provide the data to build a car-centric map foundation. Everything thing on top of that – routing, visualization, etc. – is determined by the supplier.

CEO of crowdsourced navigation app Waze didn’t have good things to say about Apple’s Maps either. Why are his statements important? His company, just like TomTom, is one of the many third party sources that provide data in Apple’s mapping solution:

“What’s going to happen with the Apple maps, is that you’re literally not going to find. When you do find them, they might be in the wrong place or position geographically. And if you do have it, the route to it may not be the optimal route.”

To Apple’s credit, its vector based mapping technology really shines on even a 2 year old device. Zooming and panning maps around is very quick and responsive. Sadly, though, data remains the primary feature of any maps app, which currently is Apple’s weak point.

Google hasn’t provided a definite date for the release of its iOS Maps app. Till an official Google Maps app comes out, you could bookmark maps.google.com on your homescreen, although zooming and panning on the web app isn’t even close to the native app. You could even give Nokia’s Maps (maps.nokia.com) and Bing Maps a spin, while you wait for a better solution.

mapping web apps

You can report problems in the iOS 6 Maps app to Apple and contribute to making the app better, by hitting the “Report a Problem” button located under the page curl indicator.

Apple’s risky bet of developing its own mapping solution might benefit the company in the long run, but for now, iOS users have to bear the brunt of Apple’s deteriorating relationship with Google. For the average user, who upgraded to iOS 6 and isn’t at all concerned about internal issues between Google and Apple, the Maps app is worse than before, which isn’t exactly how upgrades are supposed to work.

With time and crowdsourced data, Apple’s mapping solution will get better, but delivering a sub par experience to millions of users isn’t a very Apple-like solution.

What has been your experience with iOS 6’s new Maps app? Please share them in the comments.

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  • Lukas

    Apple Map, not even tested. Another issue that would not happened if Steve Job was still there.

    • s0ulo

      I agree. And also being that i5 is the last device jobs worked on, should have been a perfect device and software. If jobs was still here,the new design would have been rejected and the release date probably would have been held back further for all the issues with the design and the software.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Saint.Eshu Raphael Cosme Stéphane Emmanou

    Fails to meet people who use public transportation.

  • solferico

    the 3D view is ,where available, amazing. But it’s not useful, it’s just beautiful. Surely, I can’t believe that this could have happended during Steve Job’s time. There’s much less info for local search. Didn’t have time to test car navigation, but maps have several mistakes (reported several to Apple myself).
    Maps is really one of the few iOS6 “enhancements” and it is, in its current status, a clear step back. As the article says, if you take into account that iphone3GS and 4 won’t even have the 3D feature, this iOS5 to iOS6 movement is not an upgrade, but a downgrade. IF you add to that the lack of youtube, thats terrible.

    I understand that apple has done a huge effort to create a new maps service from scratch, but from users perspective, this effort has not been directed towards creating new features for them, but to substitute a good (not excellent like in android) one to a “beta” version one. So almost no effort was put to give something new, special and great to their users (like iCloud was in iOS5). iOS 6 is no step forward. Sadly.

  • anworks

    sounds beat to me… maybe google will release stand alone maps app ;)

  • Danish

    Apple new maps Suck……I wish google launch their app soon…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

    I have to agree with y’all: Steve Jobs would be FURIOUS about this. People would be losing jobs YESTERDAY if something this embarrassing happened while he was still alive.

    Tim Cook, notice has been served: The iPhone 5 is great, but this is a HUGE blemish on a pretty damn good track record. As we all know, flubs like this are not taken lightly in todays “DO SOMETHING NOW” business atmosphere. I hope he can weather this, as I do think he is fine as a CEO on the business side of things. However, somebody, somewhere in the Software (or if there is a specific Maps department) needs to be CANNED to send the message Apple will not tolerate inferior Apps like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/QueSwanson Que Swanson

    If Steve Jobs was alive is your excuse for the maps not working properly? That’s not always the case. This is a new technology introduced to the iPhone and it will be “stable” sooner or later. Right now, it’s “unstable”. The important thing is that it’s a new feature which can sometimes be “unstable”.

  • Lost

    Google PLEASE release a map app!

  • andrew

    i dont know what these are from but i havent had 1 issue with my iphone or ipad. mine work just how they were presented, it looks like people didnt have these load all the way or something

  • http://SaephanServices.com/ Kao Saephan

    I’m one of the few who actually like the new maps app. It’s incredibly fast and 3d view looks great. The complaints, it seems, are with the maps not being 100% comprehensive and accurate. That has to do with the maps database, which gets updated and corrected through millions of users reporting the problems. That’s how all maps databases are updated.

    I’m impressed at how fast the maps load and don’t have any complaints about it. It’s accurate and beautiful for the areas I’ve looked at (including my own). I’m sure accuracy and more 3d coverage will come over time. I’ve always hated the old maps because of how long it took to render the maps. I actually resorted to tomtom for map viewing because of how long the old maps took to load.

  • HKitTy

    Maps looks ugly, has very small POI database but very impressive is imaginary coverage. Apple maps has actual road works. IMO it is google killer in situation when you need go from point to point

  • tommytrujillo

    maps app sucks big time!!! im just waiting for google to come out with a new maps app

  • http://www.iphonehacks.com iPhoneHacks

    Some good news! It looks like Google’s Maps app may be coming soon:
    http://www.iphonehacks.com/2012/09/google-maps-ios-app.html

  • http://www.iphonehacks.com iPhoneHacks

    Apple has responded to the criticism regarding its Maps app in iOS 6:
    http://www.iphonehacks.com/2012/09/apple-responds-to-ios-6-maps-criticism.html

  • m Arch Tom’s on Bar N Ass

    nothing to comment on, marc

  • Mark

    I used the Apple maps app today pretty extensively and had not had one single problem. Everything was accurate and spot on. Apparently, by the other comments on this blog alone a lot of people are having problems with it.

    I on the other hand used to use the Google maps app and had lots of problems with addresses that weren’t updated for a couple years.

    I’m interested to see what Apple does about this.

  • MATTMAN

    What are you guys talking about?!? The maps app is awesome. I’m in a service busness were I go to many homes per day and have to map them out. The new interface from apple has made this way faster and easier. Any lack of data is definatly out weighed by the improvents of functionality. All you people searching for negatives in life are going to have shity lives.

  • Chris Wade

    Huh? In all honesty, the bit I have used Maps (not a lot, as I have Ford Sync in my car and that is far more useful than any Map app, as it is integrated into the car) have been very accurate and well done.

    Perhaps this is something that works better in the U.S. than else where, but for me, it is fine.

  • Gorban

    I wouldn’t even know where to start if I were to report map errors to Apple. They have turned my city into an island even though it is on the mainland. And I’ve found lots of other goofs too.