My opinion on Apple Maps

SuperNev

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Below is what I think about Apple's new Maps app. (I disclaim that after a week with an iPhone, I see why people love it :) . Further, this is not Android fanboi trolling, I don't even make comparison).

Article from: http://nevi.me/fruits-and-android/2012/09/apple-ios6-maps/

I don't own an Apple product, but before someone tells me that I should go get an iPhone before sharing my opinion: I've had a friend's iPhone for about a week. We upgraded the phone to iOS6 last evening.

I don't really care much about any features, nor am I going to yap on about how Android is better. The only thing as a hobbyist cartographer and someone developing with mapping APIs; I wanted to see what the fuss about Apple Maps was.

I'm also not gonna share a million pictures (check this Tumblr blog fora collection of pics), but shame I'm disappointed. The 2 saddest things about Apple's fail are these:

1. Apple don't seem like they tested the Maps app, nor the data they were getting from Yelp TomTom et. al. It really feels like the whole app was rushed through overnight.

2. I find it sad that Apple fans are defending them, with things like
- "I don't use maps anyways"
- "Who uses Street View?"
- "It's only version .1, it'll only get better"


Let 's be real. Apple spent a lot in buying companies to ditch Google. Yes Google 'did not want to' license real-time navigation to Apple. This is because Google itself has some restrictions from the reputable third-parties that provide it with data. Hence real-time navigation is prohibited in their Google Maps API.
To me it really feels like Apple threw some of that money in the drain as it's hard to change everything overnight.

Let's also be clear about the supposedly 'crap' Google Maps app in iOS5.1.1 and below. Google licensed its data to Apple, and Apple used it to develop the Youtube App and Google Maps. It is not really Google's fault that Youtube and Maps were as terrible as people say. The Google+ app for iOS came out, and is very good, showing that Google know their stuff.

So let's see Apple Maps' fails

Most of the data in the maps is from Yelp.com. So Apple technically has no control in moving places to the right spot on the map (unless they pay people to sift through a million or so incorrect places).
In looking at traffic data this morning, I failed to see the value that Waze has really added. There was way less traffic info than that which Waze has. Granted, it might still be early days, so I'll rethink my opinion after a while.

The main problem, from what I see, is that as a company selling something so expensive and influential shouldn't just rely on crowd-sourced data without extensive validation. It doesn't take a genius to know that the data is expected to be inaccurate more than often.

When I check in on FourSquare, I want a venue to say that I've been to. Unless I'm the owner of that venue, I won't care much if its coordinates are accurate, as long as I can bloody check in. The same thing goes for Yelp. I presume they're in the business of providing reviews about places, not of making sure that every single listing on the planet is accurate to say 5 meters.

This plethora of semi-accurate data can't be fixed overnight as Yelp and friends would likely rely on users to correct it. Further, unless Apple pulls data in real-time (unlikely) the data might take some time to be updated. Apple is at the top of the Fortune 500 list, and users should not be as sympathetic as they are. If I want to have fun fixing/adding mapping data I'd rather go do it at OpenStreetMaps or even draw my home suburb in Waze.I don't know why Apple didn't just stick with OSM as their data is way better, and Apple would have scored positive PR by helping a superb initiative.

Google has spent a lot of time and money getting maps to where they are. Their data mining efforts have also given them a strong advantage. It was tough to go global, and one must note that Google still relies on a lot of established mapping and other data providers (AfriGIS and (I can't remember the other company :( ) in South Africa) for things like name changes.

You can't rely on a reviews site for accurate location data. The Yelp effort was an attempt to satisfy global customers' instant gratification needs, but is thus far a fail for both Apple and Yelp as both are losing credibility. Google for example, bought Zagat for review purposes, not for location discovery purposes. My opinion is again that none of the Apple execs gave thought to their decisions.

In a war where data is such a commodity, one has to make knowledgeable decisions that illustrate that they can distinguish between which data is useful where, and which is not.
There are companies like WayTag which are ambitious start-ups with cool technologies, and more accurate data. Apple should have approached the like instead of going for *global providers* who lack a lot.

Google does not have public transit in SA, but for countries where they do, Apple has again left a huge gap. The Apple fans (mainly the shameless Americano tech-sites) have praised the lack of an essential feature as empowering local app developers. Apple doesn't care about them, look at panorama and their dictatorship in which apps make the store!

The likes of MG from TechCrunch are of the opinion that more people will start using the advertised public transit apps. The problem with this theory is that while some apps are good, transit companies would rather invest in improving infrastructure instead of making fancy apps.That's why there is the Google Transit Feed System spec, which reduces the load on transit companies by allowing them to only spend money creating methods of pushing their transit data into these feeds, with Google and anyone else pulling the data and providing transit.

I did not intend on writing a thesis, but I just wanted to put my opinion out there on iOS6 maps, and to highlight why I think they'll remain terrible for the next months or even years.
 
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SuperNev

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Thanks for the post. It'll be interesting to see how it goes say 2 years from now. I still feel though that it was a rushed effort, which Q&A could have highlighted. Try looking at Buccleugh Interchange with the 3D feature. I didn't understand what was wrong till I noticed that it's the same with a lot of places. Buggy things could have been left out, cos Apple could have always released 6.1 or even just updated the data on their servers without prompting users to download any updates.

Thanks again, what the Waze CEO said is quite insightful. 2 years is still a bit too ambitious though
 

RandomGRK

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Not to mention it takes forever to load. I closed my apple maps on the iPad and opened google maps on my S2. Quick and easy. Apple need to update.
 

Zyzzyva

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Thanks for the post. It'll be interesting to see how it goes say 2 years from now. I still feel though that it was a rushed effort, which Q&A could have highlighted. Try looking at Buccleugh Interchange with the 3D feature. I didn't understand what was wrong till I noticed that it's the same with a lot of places. Buggy things could have been left out, cos Apple could have always released 6.1 or even just updated the data on their servers without prompting users to download any updates.

Thanks again, what the Waze CEO said is quite insightful. 2 years is still a bit too ambitious though
It wasn't rushed, they have apparently been working on it in some capacity for 5 years already, the problem is maps take time and data (including data from handsets) - data which will only really come streaming in now that the map app has been released. No doubt this is a step back from google maps.

Here's hoping google roll out their maps app for IOS fairly quickly, but something tells me they are going to delay it a bit in an effort to rub it in.
 

clasqm

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Not to mention it takes forever to load. I closed my apple maps on the iPad and opened google maps on my S2. Quick and easy. Apple need to update.

I just switched on my TomTom Start, just like I always do. Score one for the dedicated devices!
 

_kabal_

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Here's hoping google roll out their maps app for IOS fairly quickly, but something tells me they are going to delay it a bit in an effort to rub it in.

google is a corporation (in the business of making profit), not a child. maps is a huge ad based revenue stream.

whether it is approved in the appstore is another story, we can only hope.
 

bekdik

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Not to derail the thread, but I am very happy with Nokia maps on my old E71. The lady who lives in my phone is pretty accurate with her instructions, which makes real time navigation a cinch.
 

cerebus

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Not to derail the thread, but I am very happy with Nokia maps on my old E71. The lady who lives in my phone is pretty accurate with her instructions, which makes real time navigation a cinch.
Nokia Maps is equally fantastic on WP7 devices. Nokia Drive on the lumia 610 is a real highlight of the phone. Free turn by turn navigation for life and it does Cape Town like a boss.
 

abzob

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Never used Google maps for navigation and probably won't use Apple maps either. Happy with my TomTop app.
 

noxibox

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Not to derail the thread, but I am very happy with Nokia maps on my old E71. The lady who lives in my phone is pretty accurate with her instructions, which makes real time navigation a cinch.
Useless GPS. Many times it took so long to finally lock on that I could already have looked up the route and travelled to my destination.

google is a corporation (in the business of making profit), not a child. maps is a huge ad based revenue stream.
Businesses are made up of people and not immune to playing tit for tat.
 

Zyzzyva

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google is a corporation (in the business of making profit), not a child. maps is a huge ad based revenue stream.

whether it is approved in the appstore is another story, we can only hope.

That hasn't stopped them from taking their time with a number of important apps in the past. I suspect the maps app could take a few months, a few months in which millions of iphone users will be cursing the dodgy maps on their phones. It's good for android.
 
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Arthur

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Look, Apple invented mapping. It takes time to develop new technology. People who complain are just being mean - Maps will be a great app in six years . Be patient and grateful you have in iPhone.
 
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Nokkie

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I'm grateful for my S3 :)
Look, Apple invented mapping. It takes time to develop new technology. People who complain are just being mean - Maps will be a great app in six years . Be patient and grateful you have in iPhone.
 

ooogz

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Look, Apple invented mapping. It takes time to develop new technology. People who complain are just being mean - Maps will be a great app in six years . Be patient and grateful you have in iPhone.

Lol@6 years
 

SuperNev

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Look, Apple invented mapping. It takes time to develop new technology. People who complain are just being mean - Maps will be a great app in six years . Be patient and grateful you have in iPhone.

lol they actually acquired a mapping company, back in 2009. Developers who got the 3 betas of iOS6 got to see maps, though the 3D gimmick wasn't yet available (based on the betas that I've seen).
In those 6 years Google will have rolled out indoor mapping for probably the whole world. Nokia Maps will be the reigning champion of Windows 12 lol. There will be public transit mapping for the taxi industry in SA, and and and ...

Apple shouldn't have rushed to deploy the technologies from the companies that it bought. There's a reason why other companies take their time, it's called Quality Assurance. If Google gets the map app through the iTunes store, Apple will have way less data to gather and use in improving Maps (I doubt they even have decent analytics as the main product is bad). Imagine the top 10 iTunes apps being all from Google ... That would be interesting

In the end, Maps won't hurt Apple that much in the December season, but by this time next year there'll be even more catching up to do, courtesy of Microsoft, Nokia, Google, Samsung,
 

bwana

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Apple shouldn't have rushed to deploy the technologies from the companies that it bought. There's a reason why other companies take their time, it's called Quality Assurance. If Google gets the map app through the iTunes store, Apple will have way less data to gather and use in improving Maps (I doubt they even have decent analytics as the main product is bad). Imagine the top 10 iTunes apps being all from Google ... That would be interesting
Apple didn't have the luxury of time. Their licensing agreement with google came to an end and they needed a product so why not develop their own.
 

Zyzzyva

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Apple didn't have the luxury of time. Their licensing agreement with google came to an end and they needed a product so why not develop their own.

That is the problem with partnering with other companies on key phone features, when the relationship breaks down you are left a few years behind. Clearly there will be some pain in the short term, however exaggerated by those with a bone to pick, but Apple had to take the plunge at some point because location is just way too important long term.

To eventually offer the best location experience - which will continue to be a major part of future mobile innovation - you do at the very least need to have full control of a mapping platform.

This all makes sense when you take a ten year view of things.
 
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