Maybe we’re the only hope for Apple maps

Take a look at these screenshots of maps on my iPhone 4, running iOS 6:

maps

On the left, maps.google.com, made mobile. On the right, Apple’s new Maps app, which comes with iOS 6. The location in both cases is Harvard Square, not far from where I am right now.

Note how the Apple app not only lacks the Harvard Square T stop (essential information for any map of this type), but traffic information as well. (Not to mention a bunch of other stuff, such as landmarks and street names. (Neither is perfect at the last two, but Google is way better.)

This is beyond inexcusable, especially now that it’s going on two months since Tim Cook apologized for Apple’s Maps fail and promised improvements. How hard can it be, just to add essential subway info? Very, apparently.

I go a bit deeper in this response to this post by Dave a few hours ago. To sum it up, I think only two things will save Apple’s bacon with maps. One is that Nokia/Navteq, Google and others provide maps on iOS that are better than Apple’s, saving Apple the trouble of doing it all. The other is crowd-sourcing the required data, simply because Apple by itself can’t replicate the effort both Google and Nokia/Navteq have put into what they’ve already got. But with the rest of us, Apple can actually do better. It’ll take a sex change for them to un-close their approach to mapping. But they’ll leapfrog the competition in the process, and win loyalty as well.

[Later...] Here is a screenshot that helps enlarge some points I make below in response to Droidkin’s comment:

apple credits and feeback

Note how dim, dark and hidden the small print is here. “Data from TomTom, others” goes to this list of credits. Also “Report a Problem” is simplex, not duplex, far as I know. You can tell them something but it’s like dropping a pebble into the ocean. Who knows what happens to it?

9 comments

  1. Droidkin’s avatar

    Crowd sourcing will not fix the underlying problem with Apple Maps…..basic map integrity. Google tried short cutting this step in the beginning of their map quest (pun intended). They learned the hard way…the only method that works is boots on the ground checking and double checking map info. Verifying the physical map info and making sure the digital data matched across all sectors of the map. Apple Maps is a patchwork of parts in disarray.
    TomTom navigation may be acceptable in some places. But the deep integration of POIs with navigation and search is where Apple Maps starts to come apart. Apple’s best hope would be to work out a reasonable deal with Google Maps and bring them back on board. Quit shooting yourself in the foot Apple. Put your time and money to use in places that you can really expect a better return.

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    How is crowd sourcing not “boots on the ground checking and double checking map info”?

    This is what Open Street Map and Waze already do. Its what Wikipedia does. FWIW, Apple already uses some Wazw and Open Street Map data. Why not go farther?

    Not saying they don’t need to do the hard integrating work. They do. Just that they could use some help. It is out there.

    FWIW, Apple does have a feedback loop, but it’s pretty well-hidden and is not duplex.

  3. M’s avatar

    I used the “report problem” function because Apple maps was showing my house 5 blocks away from the actual location. When I checked maps a few days later it was fixed, so I guess they reported problems do get looked at.

  4. Geoff Jones’s avatar

    I’m currently travelling in New Zealand and the turn by turn directions on Apple are truly awesome. I particularly like how it starts the address search in the immediate locality. Google maps was forever insisting that you were in the USA when doing an address search :-(
    M I have had a similar quick result in Cambridge UK

  5. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Geoff. That’s the first positive review I’ve seen of Apple’s Maps app. Does Google want you to drive on the right side of the road too? :-) Enjoy the trip.

  6. IT Junkie’s avatar

    Has anyone tried out the Nokia Maps alternative for iOS? I heard it’s supposed to be pretty solid and my past experience with owning Nokia phones would lead some credence to that.

    I’m just clamoring for something better than the native map that Apple has stuck me with. I miss the native Google maps big time!

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    I just downloaded the Noika maps app, called Here. Looks good so far. Shows traffic. Vocalizes. I’l try it tomorrow when I drive back to New York.

  8. Avukat Arama’s avatar

    Never give up on google maps.

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