Technologizer

New iOS 6 Maps: The Data Seems to Be Messy

Apple debuts its all-new Maps app, but users are reporting difficulty in navigating with the program

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iOS 6 Maps

[UPDATE: Apple has released a response to complaints about iOS 6’s Maps that acknowledges the issues, at least sort of:

Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service. We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover and Siri integration, and free turn by turn navigation. We launched this new map service knowing that it is a major initiative and we are just getting started with it. We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get. We’re also working with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps in the App Store into iOS Maps. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.]

When I reviewed the iPhone 5 and discussed its all-new Maps app, I said it didn’t trump the previous version — which was a collaboration between Apple and Google. That’s because it’s missing a couple of extremely valuable features: Street View and public-transportation routing.

The iPhone 5 doesn’t go on sale until tomorrow, but the new Maps entered the wild yesterday, when Apple released iOS 6 as a free upgrade for existing devices. And the tech blogosphere is abuzz this morning with reports of unhappiness among users over the quality of the app’s mapping data. Some things are missing; other items are just plain wrong.

Anil Dash writes about the (many) issues he’s encountered as a user of the iOS 6 beta. The BBC has a story that says a lot of stuff in the U.K. is missing, including the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. (Memo to Shakespeare: hold off on that iOS 6 upgrade.) Lance Whitney of CNET rounds up other reports of glitches from spots around the world.

Some of the new Maps data is provided by TomTom, a company that has been doing mapping for a long, long time; I don’t recall widespread complaints about its own products. Absent an explanation from Apple about what’s wrong and its strategy for fixing it — which I doubt we’ll get, at least not in great detail — disgruntled iOS 6 users may just have to bide their time and see what happens.

Meanwhile, as Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan reports, it’s not clear whether Google is going to release an App Store version of Google Maps. You can still use the browser-based version, but it’s not a replacement for a full-blown mapping app.

For the record, when I used the iPhone 5 to navigate my way around the San Francisco Bay Area, Maps knew where stuff was and got me where I wanted to go. With one exception: On a trip to my accountant’s office in San Mateo, I searched for the company’s name. Maps found the company and got the street address right but had the city wrong — it thought the spot was in nearby San Bruno — and declared the location to be “approximate.” (When I gave the app the correct address, it routed me there without a hitch.)

I didn’t mention this in my review because one data point seemed to be insufficient evidence of a glaring problem; Google Maps occasionally messes things up too. But now we seem to have lots of data points.

If you’ve installed iOS 6 and used Maps, I’d love to hear your impressions, pro or con.

(MORE: Five Alternatives to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps)

38 comments
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Joeri Kassenaar
Joeri Kassenaar

What Google should do next is detect a safari browser and stop serving their maps.

Or not and prove that Apple is battling the wrong battles.

thingee
thingee

The lack of transit directions has made Maps useless to me. I used to say that the time and trouble saved me by Maps paid for the phone many times over. My most-used feature, now gone.

I really hope Google rolls out an iPhone app very soon. I would gladly pay for it.

Geoff Hagerman
Geoff Hagerman

I live in Brooklyn, and I've used the new maps app for both driving and walking (the 'linked' transit apps are all worthless), and it's....ok, but definitely does not feel like a polished product, and far below what many users have come to expect form apple.

It has for the most part found addresses and businesses, but sometimes addresses are off by half a block or so. Also the turn by turn navigation gets the job done, but is hardly the best solution out there. If you use a window mount like I do when driving, the layout does not make clear at a glance what your next maneuver should be. The text for ETA and distance remaining, is only available if you tap the screen and then only in tiny text. Leaving the ETA displayed moves the giant green 'roadsigns' to the middle of the screen, making it hard to see your next turn. It feels like the driving directions were designed for someone who can hold the phone close to their eyes and focus entirely on it, not driving. 

The vector based maps do look nice, and they do seem to load faster and zooming is much smoother, however here in Brooklyn we have a TON of one way streets and the tiny blue arrows that designate them are illegible until you zoom in to almost max levels. Despite the lack of transit directions the map does at least show where subway stations are, but some are missing (my station - Bay Ridge 95th St- for example). Neighborhood names are also questionable, it includes the realtor-invented "neighborhood" of 'South Slope' but neglects to show the longstanding neighborhood that the realtors are trying to rip-off - 'Park Slope'. 

Mark-Anthony Barnes
Mark-Anthony Barnes

People, calm down. Apple is just showing us the world as it will be in the future. At least that's the case with part of the Cayman Islands. Anyone else see the one where half the island is now part of the ocean.  Apple is just showing us what happens after global warming. LOL

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

Maps not being up to snuff is a serious mistake for Apple, they know better than to release an App before it's up to snuff, simply saying it will get better now places them in the same category as all of their competition.

Shame on you Apple!

Regardless, the big news this Christmas is going to be the IPad mini, it is actually going to change how people use computers and greatly increase the percentage that do.

It is just big enough to be truly useful and incorporates the already very refined operating methods and support of the full sized IPad at a price people will much better be able to afford and in a size that actually makes it portable.

This thing isn't just another marketing oriented entertainment heavy tablet, it is a real tool and easy to use to boot.

The IPad Mini is a lot bigger news than most people think.

(If they get the price right).

zaglossus
zaglossus

Re: IOS6 I can wait the few months until they fix it. Unlike the techies and the Apple groupies, I don't need the newest thing right at the time it debuts.

Alex Cotman
Alex Cotman

"With one exception. On a trip to my accountant’s office in San Mateo, I searched for the company’s name. Maps found the company and got the street address right, but had the city wrong — it thought the spot was in nearby San Bruno — and declared the location to be “approximate.” (When I gave the app the correct address, it routed me there without a hitch.)

I didn’t mention this in my review because one data point seemed like insufficient evidence of a glaring problem; Google Maps occasionally messes things up too. But now we seem to have lots of data points."

Still defending Apple I see...you refused to put the fact that the Maps app had a hiccup just because Google Maps has its hiccups too.

In case I'm mistaken, the purpose of reviews are to provide consumers an accurate unbiased opinion on the app and to be TRUTHFUL despite its strengths or weaknesses. 

Vincent Ng
Vincent Ng

I miss my old droid nav with google maps...I just dont miss my droid...iPhone with a good turn by turn built in completes me <3

Ivan Mahon
Ivan Mahon

 You get what you over-pay for.

celliottuk
celliottuk

Apple's pathetic offer shows just how good  Google Maps really is. If I were Google, I wouldn't put Maps on the iStore, it will drive more people to Android than any other Marketing campaign

celliottuk
celliottuk

Apple's pathetic attempt simply shows how good the Google offering really is. If I were Google, I wouldn't put Google Maps on iStore, it will drive people to Android better than any other marketing campaign.

Roger Joseph
Roger Joseph

I hope they don't for their sake. I can't wait to see all the iPhone users get out of line and run over to Target and by a samsung. I will send you a dollar every time that happens, lol

Nazonohito
Nazonohito

Apple Maps is practically worthless in Japan!

 

First, numerous train lines and stations (a main method of transport in Japan and subsequently a signigicant landmark when viewing maps) are etither missing or don't show up until zoomed in to ridiculous levels. Additionally, unlike Google Maps, there is no detailed info about station layout, exits, or shops/services within them.

 

Secondly, unlike the US or Canada, numerous roads are actually very narrow streets, barely wide enough for a single compact car. While Google Maps renders these streets in detail with a realistic representation of their size, Apple Maps renders them with the same size and (lack of) detail as major thoroughfares.

 

Add in the fact that numerous buildings are no longer labeled - or are even missing (Apple Maps made me homeless... or at least deleted any reference to the apartment complex I live in) - and the maps become practically worthless.

In short (outside the US) Apple Maps has the detail and precision of a chalk outline - which is fitting because Apple has effectively murdered the functionality of the iPhone as a navigation tool!

abra1177
abra1177

Same for Dubai and the UAE

Fatesrider
Fatesrider

Not to belabor a point, but people who race off to upgrade things without letting others step on these little upgrade landmines pretty much deserve what they get.  PC users know this intimately.  NEVER lead the upgrade rush.  Let the geeks and nerds get their update on and tell everyone what's good and what's bad.

Then upgrade only if what you have doesn't do what you need it to do.   Granted, Apple constantly does a disservice to its customer base by giving them false impressions of what they should expect.  Granted, to some extent, all businesses do it, too, but Apple doesn't sell a device or a program.  It sells an experience they market as clearly superior to any other (then makes sure no other experience, superior or not, can get into the "walled garden").

What this exemplifies is the fact that Apple doesn't always deliver on what it sells.  Objective techies know this.  Subjective Apple fans make apologies for it.  It doesn't change the fact that Apple doesn't always deliver what it promises.  Not even close.

What it does do is keep its users ignorant of what else is out there while sucking money from their wallets like a pick-pocket in Victorian London (seen the new docking station for the iPhone 5?  Your previous one won't work.  You have to spend more money to dock your phone.  Welcome to the Apple pick-pocket machine.  It's not new.  How many accessories do you have for your iPad to turn it into a crippled laptop?)

But  the bottom line here is that Apple users are ignorant about the down-sides of upgrading.  They believe and drink the Apple juice that their experience will be superior to everyone else's.

The believe a company that charges them a premium for devices which are not necessarily the best or most cost effective relying on their user's ignorance to keep their customers coming back and keeping them ignorant in their "walled garden". 

An informed user is a better user.  An educated user is a better user.  Apple users are generally neither (most polls show an appalling lack of understanding of computers among Apple users - and not just security issues).  This isn't Apple-hate.  It's the Apple business model (viewed from the perspective of someone who is NOT ignorant about computers) and they are very successful in selling that ignorance to its users.

Steven Metzler
Steven Metzler

I pretty much agree with what you're saying, except for this:

"The believe a company that charges them a premium for devices which are not necessarily the best or most cost effective relying on their user's ignorance to keep their customers coming back and keeping them ignorant in their "walled garden". "

Apple doesn't "charge customers a premium".  Customers pay what they are willing to pay.  If they don't like Apple's prices, they have plenty of other options available.  Also, the matter of whether or not a product is the "best or most cost effective" is a very subjective matter.  If you look at vehicles as an example, "premium" cars that carry much higher price tags are not necessarily the "best or most cost effective".  In fact, in most cases, they are not.  People buy what they like, and cost is only one factor in that purchase decision.  

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

As a devout PC user I agree with your basic thesis that Apple users have higher expectations from Apple than from the always more buggy PC real computer world.

But your comment that Apple users show an appalling lack of understanding of computers is really a complement to Apple and how well they have generally succeeded in shielding them from the problems that we "real" computer users fully and painfully understand.

It also emphasizes how successful their clear and easy to use operating system and program metrics are at allowing less invested people to make full use of their computers.

For them a crumby or immature app is much more of a problem than it is for us "real" computer users.

Thomas Casey
Thomas Casey

I am really bummed that my street view is gone. I used that all the time to look where I was going and "visit" other places. I am sorely tempted to restore 5.1!

brenro
brenro

It took Google years to refine it's maps to it's current state. Anyone that thinks Apple's going to remedy this in a matter of days is going to be sorely disappointed.

hwtan13
hwtan13

 I have no problem with Apple Maps and I think is the best much better then google map. When google map first launch there is tons of problem also.

Luc Voong
Luc Voong

typical clueless apple fanboi. I bet if apple put out a brick with iphone X  label on it and you'd still buy it, how sad.

Commentonitall
Commentonitall

I'm sorry I don't understand your poor grammar.  

thingee
thingee

Not everybody speaks English as their first language. A little patience and kindness goes a long way.

Scott Horowitz
Scott Horowitz

why do you like apple maps better than google maps? you like apple maps v.1, better than google maps v.6.12?

Roger Joseph
Roger Joseph

Just to let you know Scott, Apple Maps are very good. I live in Canada and the new Maps waaayy better than the previous version. If you live in some backwaters place (sorry to those people) then no such luck. I never saw it written anywhere that Apple had Maps of every thing. It's not their maps, Google Map's didn't. Also are you refering to the App being bad or the data source.

Cause the app is way beter and more responsive,easier to read while driving and now has Turn by turn built in with voice. I use maps everyday for the past 3+ years and now it's really better.

yoganclimber
yoganclimber

you don't recall tom tom comlaints because it's not apple.  they'll get fixed just like the google maps

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

The idea of Apple maps is understandable, but to release a clearly inferior and buggy product when you are already using the familiar, mature and satisfactory Google maps is dumb.

Apple's reputation is very important to it, it's marketing and it's customers.

This didn't help.

The only thing Apple could do that was less in it's own interests right now is to fail to come out with a reasonably priced IPad Mini in October.

That would be "Dumb and Dumberer"!

Roger Joseph
Roger Joseph

I am truly Sorry for your mis understanding but to label your self as a "Critical Thinker", I see youre talking in absolutes. I believe the app is clearly superior and far from buggy product. How do you decide it's inferior, because you don't like it . I guess you were one of the Vista pundates that clearly hated it but then love windows 7 seeing as they are the same.

arbind_dobhal
arbind_dobhal

I live in south Jersey. I used the new Map app yesterday and it took me to my destination without any problems. There are four to 5 different rout that could take me there. But fortunately it followed the one that I prefer. 

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

sounds like Apple Post Jobs decline has already started

hwtan13
hwtan13

 I have no problem with Apple Maps and I think is the best much better then google map. When google map first launch there is tons of problem also.

jtillman
jtillman

Works fine in Metro DC area. Knows all POIs that I threw at it.

His Shadow
His Shadow

I wish I could care about this, but it will all be cleaned up on the back end without any user intervention and when millions of millions of instances of the new Maps app begin running and the gets updated, less than two weeks from now we can look back on this ridiculous kerfuffle, laugh nervously and change the subject...

Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez

If it was that easy, why did Google spend countless millions and many years to get to Maps current mature level worldwide?

His Shadow
His Shadow

And you think that Tom Tom has to start from scratch? Give your head a shake.

iOSMapsFail
iOSMapsFail

With the new iOS maps, towns have disappeared altogether, the local shopping complex has all but vanished. I was so disappointed with the new iOS maps I decided to start a petition, help rally to bring back Google maps! Go to 

http://www.iosmapsfail.com/