Apple iOS6 Maps Review **Big Thumbs Down**

I thought I would never say this, but I am seriously disappointed with the quality of the new mapping application recently released by Apple.

If you have read many of the articles I have posted on this here blog, you will know that I have been a fan of Apple for many years and really love the quality of their products.  I have only recently purchased a new MacBook Air laptop, and was not disappointed with its quality and abilities.  I still stand by what I have said for these many years, I will never go back to a Windows based machine.

However, Apple have recently released iOS6, their latest iteration of their ever popular operating system for iPhone and iPad.  As part of this release they decided they would no longer use Google as the mapping solution on the iPhone and release a version of their own.

I might only own the iPhone 4, which means I do not get the benefit of turn-by-turn directions and fly-over.  And I am sure that the mapping solution is wonderful to use in the United States the home of Apple, but for us Brits, you have left us with an application that is not useable at all.

If you have read my recent article about my trip to Glasgow this past weekend you will be aware that I attempted to use the new mapping software to navigate the road network around Loch Lomond (it’s a funny story, well for you guys it will be – go and check it out –  here).

This is what I was presented with when I attempted to find out where I was:

Many people out there in Internet land will attest to me saying that Scotland is notorious for having cloudy skies and quite a lot of rain (gets quite cold in the winter time too) – the cloud is obvious in the use of this application, the cloud is that bad it is impossible for you to see any detail of where you are.  You can see from the picture on the right, the clear distinction of cloud cover over parts and not others.  Zooming in to where my location was leaves me with this extremely illegible map (picture on the left).  How is anyone supposed to use this?  I am sorry Apple, and don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but there is no way Steve Jobs would have let you get away with this level of detail.

I am sure that over time, the quality will improve, but that does not help me at that moment in time.  I am sure there is many people out there that use the maps application on their phones to navigate their way around the countryside as well as the road networks.

I am a photographer and find myself walking great distances into locations you would not normally go, just to get that picture.  Thankfully I do have a good sense of direction, and was able to navigate my way to and from the edge of Loch Lomond and was able to get some pictures, but because I needed to walk much further than should have been needed I lost a lot of light, all because of a non-functional mapping solution.

I also own the original iPad and in Apple’s wisdom has decided to exclude it from the upgrade to iOS6, which means that it still has the Google version of Maps.  This is the difference when I attempted to look at the location I was at over the weekend:

I know Google is planning on releasing a version of their mapping software for iPhone and iPad very soon for us to download and all will be restored.

My verdict of the new Apple Mapping solution is:

Update September 26th, 2012:

The Verge ran an article yesterday stating that Apple still had a year left on its contract with Google to continue providing a mapping solution on iOS devices.

Apple’s decision to ship its own mapping system in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 was made over a year before the company’s agreement to use Google Maps expired, according to two independent sources familiar with the matter. The decision, made sometime before Apple’s WWDC event in June, sent Google scrambling to develop an iOS Google Maps app — an app which both sources say is still incomplete and currently not scheduled to ship for several months.

A comment made by OMGitsShan’s on this article makes a very good point:

The bottom line is that Apple should never have shipped their Maps iteration with iOS 6. They should have just been humble enough to say – you know our maps isn’t as great as Googles because they have been doing it for so long and we’ll work behind the scenes to get it as good as we can and then release it as an optional download through the App store. That way people can still keep their original map app and use the new Apple version and then report issues as they appear. This way we at least have a backup app incase. It’s just selfish of Apple to assume that their maps will be on par with Googles and to take the original one away, given that it is such a crucial and important app to people, businesses etc. I mean we aren’t talking Angry Birds here. This is an app that people need. Sure some are saying “well it works fine for me” – well thats great. But Apple don’t sell their products in 2 major U.S. cities – they sell them around the world. In other countries and continents, the maps are even worse! Quite honestly, Apple should have announced the app, dropped it in the App store months ago and allow people on iOS 5 to test it out and gain all the feedback and fix it from there. Then waiting a bit before forcing it on users.

Basically, everyone agrees that Apple should have released their alternative mapping solution as an app for people to begin using and testing and only when their solution was anywhere near that of Google’s version, should they then force us to use it.

One thing we have to remember is that you only get Turn-by-Turn Directions and Fly-Over functionality if you have a iPhone 4s or the new iPhone 5.  You cannot tell me that a standard GPS Unit that can be purchased for a fraction of the iPhone 4 or even the 3Gs has a bigger processor and more memory… so why can we not have Turn-by-Turn Directions?  Personally I would not find any need for the Fly-Over facility.

If Apple were not so strict on the facilities provided in applications submitted to their app-store, maybe Google would have provided Turn-by-Turn Directions in the iOS Version of Maps by now… have you thought of that?

As OMGitsShan states, the iPhone is not just sold in 2 major U.S. cities, it is sold world-wide and my experience of using the new mapping facility in Scotland is great example of the bad quality that Apple has released.

Go and read the article over at the Verge – (http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/25/3407614/apple-over-a-year-left-on-google-maps-contract-google-maps-ios-app) it really worth a read.

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