Apple Maps: 18 months later

“The common theme is that Apple messed up big time when switching to a home-brewed mapping system for iOS 6. It got so bad that Apple even fired a long-time executive, Scott Forstall, although there may have been other reasons that hastened his departure,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “”

“No matter. It was quite true that, during the early days, Maps could be quite flaky, and in ways that were easy to document with big, bold, lurid screen shots. So when the 3D view showed a landmark melting into the background, such as Hoover Dam, you just knew Apple would be getting tons of bad publicity. Any instance involving wrong directions or locations simply added to the perception that Maps was a huge miss for Apple,” Steinberg writes. “I suppose if Apple called it a public beta from Day One, and treated the mistakes with a touch of humor, the media wouldn’t have reacted so critically. Maybe offer a prize for the silliest mistake, and invite iOS users to document the worst ills, so Apple could fix them. Don’t take it seriously, and the criticisms would be blunted.”

“The perception remains that Apple Maps is bad, Google Maps is good. But the truth lies in a gray area where both are imperfect in different ways. I’ve documented situations where Google Maps screwed up big time, but Apple was mostly correct,” Steinberg writes. “This, however, doesn’t mean that Maps is fixed and is, in all respects, a superior service to Google. But it’s also clear that Apple has invested considerable resources into improving the product, and it shows. But it still may be less accurate in other locations. The problem with the Apple is bad and Google is good brigade is that they are suspended in time. They simply do not understand that Apple has had 18 months to improve the mapping service, and the results should be evident to anyone who checks out rendering and navigation accuracy. It’s a lot better, and Apple deserves the credit for doing the right thing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote before the Apple firings and Cook’s upper management reorg, back on September 28, 2012:

One thing we would like to know is: Who’s responsible for opening Apple up to this overblown shitstorm and why are they still working for Apple Inc., if they still are?

…No matter what Apple does, no matter how much better they make Apple Maps, it will now always “suck” in the minds of a large segment of the population… The fool(s) responsible for preparing Maps for release and then releasing it with obvious issues (overblown as they are) and therefore tainting Maps forever should face severe consequences. As in: Pink slip(s). If you don’t get fired over this debacle, what exactly does get you fired at Tim Cook’s Apple?

Here’s a little hint for the future: Everything that requires widespread customer use to develop a rich database before the product becomes fully usable should be clearly labelled “beta” upon release. Apple did it with Siri, but they forgot to do it with Maps. Had Apple been smart enough to simply place a “beta” tag on Maps, all of this rigamarole would never have occurred.

Related articles:
Apple’s Maps just might have the last laugh with iOS 8 release – March 12, 2014
iOS 8: Apple improves Maps data, adds public transit directions service – March 11, 2014
Apple’s 3D recording patent could bring user-generated ‘street views’ to Maps – January 7, 2014
Apple patent filing reveals interactive maps with dynamically adjusting content layers – December 19, 2013
ZDNet: Apple Maps’ worldview is now better than Google Maps – November 30, 2013
Google Maps usage on iPhones plummets 70% in UK – November 26, 2013
Apple Maps makes killer comeback as Google Maps loses access to world’s most desirable mobile customers – November 12, 2013
Apple Maps puts the hurt on Google Maps – November 11, 2013
WIth iOS 7, Apple’s Maps has arrived; it’s now better than Google Maps – September 25, 2013

55 Comments

  1. I haven’t seen any improvements whatsoever since it launched. I have no idea what Apple maps is like in the US, but in the UK it’s pretty much useless. Unfortunately I’m forced to use Google.

    1. I find the same in Singapore. Although the streets are pretty much accurate, don’t ask for directions unless you want your 30 minute trip to take 2 hours. Siri just hates highways or simply can’t distinguish them from roads with 100’s of traffic lights.

  2. This article and most of the comments do not address the fundamental flaws of Apple Maps. There is no street view and no public transit directions. Unless and until these features are restored I’m sticking with iOS 5.1.1. And please don’t tell me to use the Google Maps app. This app is not capable of working with the contacts in my adress book. Thanks for nothing Apple.

  3. I’ve lost confidence in Maps. Most times I’ve gone to use it, it has shown incorrect locations.

    Whilst Google maps is not perfect, I have found it to be more reliable.

    Hopefully Apple will keep improving Maps.

  4. Both apps have become almost totally useless. Unless I’m the strange one for using the term RV for recreational vehicle. You’d think you could find local RV parks and supplies by searching for “RV”. No such luck, somehow Apple and Google assume, even though I hit the locate me icon, that I am looking for a place called Ruvuma in Tanzania! Seriously, WTF? What are the odds that’s would be what I’m looking for? And how much fuel will that take at 8mpg?

  5. Hint!

    As long as you need a data plan any mapping GPS app is going to fail at one time or another.

    Since not all service providers are equal in every aspect, whether compared locally or nationally, 100 percent in never guaranteed . Thus, Apple Maps may appear superior to Google Maps in some areas; it maybe that a particular service provider/iPhone connection is better at supplying the necessary mapping data in that particular area than another. And vice versa.

    I personally don’t use either map for navigating. TomTom works exceptionally well, whether in Canada, US, Mexico, UK and Europe. No data plan or caching required when out of the country. And invariably virtually 100 percent accuracy wherever I have used it.

    P. S. I checked out the Spice India location on 3 of our iPhones, and 3 iPads as well. My 4s, 5, Mini and Air were perfect using Apple Maps, Google Maps were slightly off. TomTom was perfect on all, including our 3G and 1st generation iPad.

  6. The new version of Google maps is totally unusable. It sent us to Atlanta, GA to get from Portland, OR to Reno, NV. There’s a whole host of other problems with the new Google maps. Apple maps has never misrouted us like that, and it remains easy and convenient to use, unlike Google’s new monstrosity.

    1. Not sure what you did but I tried entering Portland, OR to Reno, NV in Google Maps just now and got a relatively direct route. “Drive 534 mi, 8 h 57 min” a route passing through Eugene and Klamath Falls.

  7. I really want to like Apple maps. I like their interface more than google. But it ducks at grinding places. It can’t find the recycling center in Washington, D.C. If you manually find, you see the street name is wrong. I get tired of searching for a place by name and the first dozen are on the other side of the country., that’s if it can find it by name at all. Yelp is terrible with the correct information.

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