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New Apple maps app under fire from users (bbc.com)
305 points by option_greek on Sept 20, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 276 comments

Since the passing of Steve Jobs there has understandably been a lot of speculation about what will happen to Apple given Steve's laser-like focus on user experience above almost all else. Some self-proclaimed "power users" did of course rail against the Apple ecosystem but like most things Apple does (did?) it was right most of the time for most users.

I've been an avid iPhone user since the iPhone 4 and have bought every iPad so far. iOS 6 may mark a turning point to me such that the 4S that I have now may well be my last iPhone. My phone for me is probably beyond anything else a way of getting places (ie maps). Even more than phone calls, SMS or the Internet.

I sympathize with the position that Apple wants to control the entire experience but I really am dumbfounded that they've sacrificed user experience to do it. So much so that I don't think I want to update to iOS 6.

When compared to Android, the one remaining pillar for the iPhone for me is battery life. The 4S simply trumps any Android I've used or witnessed to date. I typically have to charge my phone only every 2-3 days. The Droid I have (which admittedly was a terrible phone) is lucky to last a day. The Galaxy S3 is better but still...

I look forward to the next Android phone running out-of-the-box 4.1 (or whatever the latest release is at that point).

I'd also recommend to base your decision on the overall service you get over the 1-2 years you'll own your phone. I've had an Android phone the past 2 years and am completely disillusioned with Android/Google/HTC. Everything is great for a few months, then issue after issue kept piling up.

For example, the first system update my phone had problems installing. It took two weeks of Googling and Verizon store visits to figure out that I had to do a factory reset for it to work. The second system update has been lingering on my phone for about 3 months. The install process simply never finishes, no matter what I do.

Second, apps simply stop working one by one. Flipboard doesn't manage to load images anymore. Wunderlist can't sync anymore. Installing Instagram breaks the built-in camera and gallery completely. Lots of random errors in other apps. The weather app stopped automatically refreshing. The alarm app doesn't go off anymore. Not to mention the application cache limitation to 150MB. So even though I have 500MB available storage, I can't install more apps, since they don't have room for temporary files. If that's full, apps simply stop working (only fix I found was a 1-hour phone-rooting process).

The touchscreen sometimes stops responding (off/on fixes that). Tapping a bookmark on my home screen loads the browser, but not the actual link. The phone randomly restarts at times. The unlock screen started misbehaving recently. And on and on.

In comparison, my 4 year old iPod Touch is more reliable and more fun to use than my 2-year old HTC. My 3.5 year old MacBook just upgraded to iOS6 and everything runs smooth as butter.

So my experience is that Android phones get worse over time, and Apple devices get better over time (or at least stay the same). Of course, your experience may differ, and maybe Android is more mature by now. But I'd highly recommend not to base a switch on a few features, but to take the overall service you will receive over two years into consideration.

I hear stories like this all the time, but every single person I know that has an Android has very few, if any, problems (most own Samsungs or Nexus phones though). I mean to be honest, I hear a lot more complaining from the iPhone crowd, but that might be more because they expect more and things like the battery dying after 10 hours of moderate use really piss them off.

Anecdotally, I have the opposite experience. I can think of three Android users in my friend group so disillusioned with their SGS1 and 2 that they want to abandon Android as fast as possible.

Doing an OTA update on day one in fifteen minutes is a big factor. Nerds/tech crowd can get through Android updates but for the average user it's an utter clusterf* of a nightmare.

More work goes into figuring out IF your Android device will be updated than goes into the entire iOS update process...

The OTA update from 4.0 to 4.1 was "press button, wait a minute." And far as "figuring IF" my Android device will upgrade: I use a Galaxy Nexus. It'll get upgraded to the newest version for the foreseeable future. You might be shocked at how very, very little "work" that was.

(Yes, I'm saying "don't buy non-Nexus devices." Not like that's a hard one to grasp, though.)

yes, it was a press button wait a minute, when the OTA update was finally released to you. I waited 4 days to get the OTA on my Galaxy Nexus. My iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS all were able to update when the new iOS was released, that day. No waiting.

The OTA update was released before I purchased my phone. I don't exactly wait with bated breath for oh my god the newest and bestest. It is more than "just" a phone, but the marginal value of an upgrade has not, to date, been worth being an early adopter for any one phone.

"But I had to wait four days" is really just...really? And that gets you frothy?

4 days shouldn't. A minority of Android devices, notably the most recent flagships, are getting decent upgrades.

But even a glance at what version of Android is being used: http://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html shows that over 2/3 of all Android Users are still on 2.x or before, and it's very likely that many of them will never have an opportunity to upgrade.

That gets me frothy. iPhones get 3 to 3.5 years of updates, and Android devices averaged on whole are getting what, 1.5 to 2 years? Maybe less, considering how many aren't being updated?

The answer of "only buy a flagship" is bunk. If Google supported that answer, they should cut out the cruft. But Android is more than flagships.

And that's a better point. I'd like to see Google do a better job of it. However, Google's backport APIs are, in truth, pretty good, and I haven't yet found a problem with targeting a decent spread of devices.

I've had a lot of grief with my iPhone 4. Let's see, 1. Shitty antenna - compensated with free case 2. Lack of free upgrades (Siri, maps) 3. Corrupted iPhone database meant I couldn't copy songs to my iPhone. Had to rebuild the phone to "recover" 4. All upgrades usually take me 1/2 a day to rebuild my phone, as everything is copied off and then back on. 5. Shitty iTunes that makes everything a bitch to get on/off my phone (see 3. Above). My wife has had almost no issues with her nexus s, nor has my best friend with his (inc. free unconditional upgrades) I'm not saying apple is bad, just saying the experience hasn't been as rosy as I would have "expected" given all of the pro IOS hype I read about, and the big price difference I paid vs the nexus s.

My point was that anecdotal experience is worse than useless, as everyone and their aunt has "a story".

This is off topic, but I have a SGS2 and was getting pretty tired of how the UI looked half-ICS and half-old after an ICS upgrade from Samsung (btw. OTA upgrade didn't work for me so I needed to resort to Samsung's Kies software which is amongst the worst software I have used and even with that I had troubles upgrading).

So I installed cyanogenmod 9.1 and I fell in love with my phone again. It's not perfect though but I don't think I'll ever want to buy a non-stock Android phone again...

So being a rather passionate Android guy I do recognize that there are very annoying problems with some Android devices. And installing cyanogenmod is way above the skill level of the average phone user (even though it's rather easy).

Sometimes I wonder if iPhone people experience the same kind of disappointments ... and when they do it makes me feel a little warm inside. I know it's not nice but I guess we all need to justify our own purchasing decisions to ourselves every now and then :)

> Sometimes I wonder if iPhone people experience the same kind of disappointments ... and when they do it makes me feel a little warm inside.


The iOS4 update on iPhone 3G was absolutely terrible, the phone became pretty much unusable. The 4.1 update made it less unusable, but the phone was never restored to its former snappiness (unless down-dated to iOS 3.1)

There's also the issue of updates being (at least somewhat) intentionally nerfed for older devices. Sometimes it's explainable by hardware or performance issues, even if a stretch, but other times it feels like complete arbitrary bullshit:

* for iOS3, 3G owners couldn't "view or create 'Invitees' on a Calendar event" while 3GS users could

* for iOS4 3G owners not only didn't get multitasking (acceptable considering the performance issues) but they didn't get the fast-switching UI and attached tools (orientation lock) or larger fonts in messaging applications (...) either

* for iOS4.2 3GS users didn't get the expanded set of text tones

* for iOS5, 3GS users didn't get location-based reminders (geofencing)

* for iOS6, neither 3GS nor 4 owners get turn-by-turn navigation or panorama mode; 3GS owners don't get offline reading lists


I have an Android device and I really don't like it. It's a Nexus.

Oh, and to be honest as well, I don't hear many complaints from the iPhone crowd.

Is it a Galaxy Nexus? Because if not, you're talking about a pretty old device, and I hear people complain about their two+ year old iPhones all the time.

The only real complaints people tend to have about their old iPhones is slow performance, and that's pretty normal. IPhones do not have the "apps randomly breaking or giving odd error messages" issue.

See my post above. In many ways, I regret buying an iphone4. My wife's experience with nexus s has been much more hassle free than mine. There are definitely things I prefer on iPhone. One case in point is that although I often see crashes on apps, they just shut down quietly and I restart. Android let's my wife know that an app has crashed. I also upgraded my wife's phone to android 4.1. It took 5-10 mins total. I'm dreading my IOS6 update which I am estimating will take me 8h (inc. reinstall of my purchases via cydia - which I am forced to do if I want the functionality that I WANT vs what apple lets me have).

>>I'm dreading my IOS6 update which I am estimating will take me 8h

8 hours? What?

He has to re-jailbreak and re-install all of his jailbroken apps, many of which probably don't work anymore.

It probably goes without saying that iOS isn't for him.

Wasn't there a study done recently where they determined that applications on iPhones actually crash more often than on an average Android, except that no error messages are thrown up at all.. you're just sent back to the home screen so the user thinks "Oh I must've pressed the Home button by accident"

My own anecdotal Nexus experience (I own the Google updated GSM version): no crashes (although there was a brief syncing outage last night), updates are smooth and fast, and the whole "it just works" thing applies.

That's because Apple decided that the correct way to handle a crash is to give no error message at all to the user, and just close the app. ;)

There are certainly lots of iOS apps with stability issues. With iOS 6 even Apple's own apps have started crashing on me (App Store & Game Center).

But you're right about the error messages, when thing go wrong there are very few apps that will tell you about it.

True, but if you look at most crash logs the apps are dying due to memory allocation issues, which a restart of the app clears up instantly. (I mostly see SIGBUS errors from the apps I use)

I don't see a problem with just jumping back to the homescreen, most people will reopen the app right away anyway.

There are also complaints about battery life. Lithium batteries have a half-life of about 3 years, so it's not surprising that older iPhones need recharging sooner. A lot of people blame it on an OS upgrade rather than deteriorating batteries, though.

No, it's a Nexus 7.

Tablets are another thing. Google hasn't been thinking about it too much (N7 is their first attempt) and the iPad is still king.

There's a lot of work to do in that field, and that's catching-up work more than improvements. It's much like discussing the Nexus One. Let's talk about it again in a year or two.

Samsung seems to have done it right (I am on my way to pick up one up) but the earlier Androids were hit and miss. I assumed I had choosen right when I went with an HTC phone, but I got shaftet and my Desire (the original one) never even got Ginger Bread (2.3) despite promisses from HTC. Now, not yet two years old, it has started to crash whenever I use the browser for more than a few minutes; hence the replacement.

I would love something as dead simpel as an Iphone, but IOS is far too limited for my likes (especially lack of sideloading, intents and services).

Got a Galaxy Nexus here that was given to me by Google (for free), and I still feel like I got ripped off. System UI crashes all the time, rendering it utterly useless until it times out and relaunches. (My Nexus 7 has the same problem.)

On top of that, the UI design quirks are infuriating, and this is from a guy who's spent the better part of a decade mostly using a BlackBerry. (Trying iOS here, shortly. We'll see which sucks the least of the three...)

Android still hasn't lived up to its promise, and the software fit and finish is pretty lousy. Had I paid for this phone, it would certainly have gone back during the return window.

I know it's been said before, but there's a one word answer: Nexus. The current Nexus is getting long in the tooth, but I'd still recommend a Galaxy Nexus over an S3 or 1X. The fact that it's half the price off contract makes this easier.

You are correct about recommending the Galaxy Nexus over any Android phone at the moment. The specs might not be as high as the SGIII but its still the only stock device on the market. I recently, had a friend ask me which non iPhone smartphone to buy on Verizon. I recommend the Nexus, he bought the Droid 4. He returned it in three days. I had an HTC Incredible running cyanogenmod that was a decent experience. I am really looking forward to a new Nexus device.

This is why I am really, really hoping the "Nexus 5" rumors are true...

Why's that, if you don't mind me asking? The S3 is a newer device and has slightly better specs (and a better battery.. the thing that led me to dump my GNex in the first place) and a larger screen.

Every review I've read say that Samsung's UI isn't even particularly bad.

Experience indicates that the S3 may not get Key Lime Pie. Even if it does, the S3's version of Key Lime Pie will probably be a hybrid bastard that looks and feels more like Ice Cream Sandwhich than Key Lime Pie.

Also, the next Nexus (or nexuses, as rumored) is likely to arrive in October. Anybody with a GNex already has a good phone and can afford to wait a month or two.

FWIW, I've been using the Galaxy Nexus and it's a rock solid combination of Samsung hardware and unadulterated Google software, above and beyond the iPhones I've used in all parts of the experience except battery life (it lasts as long as an iPhone 3GS did for me). This is in contract with the Sprint-modified Galaxy SII that I also got to use, where the software was messed with for no good reason, and the capacitive buttons would sometimes become unresponsive.

Wow, can I ask which Android version/HTC phone you're using? I kept my HTC Incredible from 3~4 years ago rooted for development and sometimes as a music player in the gym. All of my apps still function. That said, I don't use it everyday nor as a phone so the issues may just be non-obvious to me.

It is an HTC Incredible 1, I got it right when it came out (Wikipedia says it was first released end of April, 2010). It's most likely the same you have then.

I haven't rooted it, just used it as an average person would for Facebook/browser/weather/etc. It was very surprising to see the phone degrade so much over time.

I had the same experience with my Incredible 1. It was wonderful for about 6 months until it became absolutely unusable. Random bugs all over the place. Updates not coming in. So much lagginess in the UI that the interface became basically unusable.

I have seen that one discussed often enough on forums, I believe it is the "Apple Fanboy Android".

Err... your MacBook upgraded to iOS6?

Nice catch. It's a MacBook Pro (completely forgot about the existence of non-Pro MacBooks).

> Nice catch. It's a MacBook Pro (completely forgot about the existence of non-Pro MacBooks).

Given that Macs don't run iOS, this casts a lot of the rest of what you say in a very strange light (and he gave you the chance to correct it were it a 'typo', but you doubled down). I was curious as to the problems you said you had with your Android devices but honestly I'm wondering now how much of it is user-inflicted for reasons other than "I installed Instagram".

Sure, be nitpicky. My MBP downloaded and installed iOS 6 on my iPad, that's it. And it got it's own OS X 10.8.2 upgrade. It was so simple, that I barely noticed it. In the mean time, my phone just asked me again whether I want to install the system upgrade. And once again, it did the countdown from 10 to 0 and then got stuck.

On a site called Hacker News, it's not particularly "nitpicky" to expect someone to demonstrate a certain level of competence and to question what else they may not be competent about when they don't. I also question my relatives' competence when they starts talking about "the computer" being the monitor on their desk, too.

And my Galaxy Nexus installed the 4.1 update by pressing one button on the device. Anecdotes are interesting that way.

You're on the wrong site if you can't even tell the difference between iOS and Mac OS.

Apple can’t unilaterally decide to use Google Maps or not. You do not know the conditions Google set. My guess is that Apple was backed into a corner and Google wouldn’t give them vector maps or turn-by-turn navigation.

Building a good maps service is miles outside of Apple’s core competency, so this is all very sad – but at the same time no surprise at all.

(Mind you, all this at best explains the bad maps experience, it does not excuse it.)

It's a product of Apple's inability to form stable B2B relationships - "adult relationships" if one enjoys snarky analogies. Contrast this to the way in which Microsoft has recently addressed Google's strength in Maps. They found someone with mutual interests. http://searchengineland.com/microsoft-and-nokia-present-unif...

Google and Apple have been unfriending each other since Schmidt resigned from Apple's board three years ago. A jilted Apple is again "looking and feeling" for reasons to drag the ex who cheated on them into court. Heck, in Samsung, they are even treating one of their current "friends with benefits" like an ex.

TomTom's response, "We are a paid escort service, you can find us in the phonebook."

Regardless of the drama involved, the fact is that Google is competing against Apple, and maps are a significant enabler of that competition. Apple has to cut off Google in this case.

Imagine TomTom when they got a call from Apple. It's not as if TomTom aren't facing competition from Google, only more so because the dedicated GPS hardware they sell is becoming increasingly marginalized by smartphones. They've got to have been thinking, "This could big," while imagining the benefits from being a partner in the data development for Apple's map app.

But Apple didn't want a relationship, just a one time cash transaction so that Apple can encroach on TomTom's business. Part of me suspects that Apple got the worst possible data set TomTom could deliver and still plausibly argue they met the requirements of their agreement with Apple. There was no strategic advantage in doing otherwise.

Apple needs to move on. It was Google that did the cutting off.

"But Apple didn't want a relationship, just a one time cash transaction so that Apple can encroach on TomTom's business. Part of me suspects that Apple got the worst possible data set TomTom could deliver and still plausibly argue they met the requirements of their agreement with Apple. There was no strategic advantage in doing otherwise."

I disagree. Even if they gave them a high quality data set, that set is going to be obsolete within a year (let's say). Now Apple can either choose to keep obsolete data (which will definitely impact customers) or buy updated data from TomTom.

The scenario you propose doesn't provide a strategic benefit to TomTom because it does not address TomTom's long term disadvantage relative to Google and other companies in the mobile navigation space. Google's and Apple's mobile mapping services run on devices which can communicate data back to their services.

TomTom's problem is that their devices only communicate one direction. A partnership with Apple could have allowed TomTom to collect realtime data directly in the same way as their major competitors.

In the next twelve months, Apple will probably have collected more useful data than TomTom in many respects. That doesn't mean they will be successful in using it to their advantage, but it does mean that there is little reason for Apple to purchase a new dataset.

All TomTom devices can send data back - the Live and Work (fleet management) devices have a SIM, the older devices use the docking cradle to the PC.

And yes, there is a privacy policy. See http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/safeguarding-your-data/

But it would mean that Apple would have to rely on users to report any new road construction or road name changes. Just because the phone could communicate back, doesn't mean the user will or that the data will be correct.

Maybe my creativity is limited but I just don't see how Apple being able to collect data would help with getting updated maps. I think it could help with their directions since they know the most commonly taken routes and could actually even time people's routes to find which are truly the quickest, but I don't know how it would help with updating maps from road changes and the like.

I suspect that Google can detect road construction using data mining techniques...it's the sort of phenomenon that is relevant to mapping only because of its effect on movement.

I apologize for not being more clear, but when I said road construction I didn't mean just fixing of roads but adding new roads. In order to have those new roads in your system you need to update your data set.

I have fallen victim to this. I bought a new used car (it's new to me but a 2007 model) that has built in navigation. Between the date of manufacture of the nav disk and current date, an interstate was added/modified near me. Now everytime I go by that area my GPS says I'm in the middle of a field. In reality, I can't see a customer filing a ticket with Apple to get that road in the GPS system. Even if they do, Apple would most likely need coordinates. This construction of new roads is what TomTom has a temporary strategic advantage over Apple (only temporary since Apple could get a department together to monitor all new roads).

Have you seen the iOS6 Maps problems-reporting UI? It's simple, it's fast, it's right in the place where you encountered the bug.

The other thing you ignore is that people want their local data to be correct in the maps they use, for practical reasons. I too reported new construction around my home everywhere I could, because it's, among other things, in my best interest to have my address easy to find (by guests or postal drivers, for example) on any GPS out there.

I think that is a bit disingenuous. Nokia-Microsoft is a much better fit than Apple-Google.

Nokia has hardware and maps; Microsoft brings in its OS. That either is win-win, or lose-lose, but there is little reason for either party to be suspicious of the other at the moment.

On the other hand, Apple has good reasons to be suspicious of Google. Collaboration with google can be a win-loose combination, with Apple at the losing end: Google wins if iPhone fails.

Nokia-Microsoft is a better fit than Apple-anyone. Apple is suing Samsung upon whom the rely for major components.

The relationship with Google came apart when Apple would not allow Google Voice on the iPhone.


Maybe, but one could also say it started when Google started promoting Android.

Also, Apple-Twitter and Apple-Facebook are, I think, good complementary fits, too, and that only because their own attempts at social networking have been 'less successful'. I do not see that changing anytime, if only because one cannot expect that all one's friends use Apple hardware, and I do not see Apple develop e.g. FaceTime and Messages for Windows.

I do wonder why Apple chose to build its own mapping solution. I think the only logical follow-up to that would be that they went their own way for search, too.

I don't know if I would agree with that sentiment. Do you realize how much negotiation they've done with movie and music studios?

I don't think it's sad at all. Would you give your main competitor all the features your native users use, after that competitor has been cut-throat with your ecosystem?

This is a valid argument and one that I originally did not see. It very well could be the same case as the YouTube app (Core App vs Third-Party App) where Google might have wanted more flexibility in updating its apps (not tied to the OS).

Or the flexibility to do them at all. The old Maps and YouTube apps were written and maintained by Apple.

With the cash they have at hand I'm surprised they simply didn't buy out an existing maps provider.

> With the cash they have at hand I'm surprised they simply didn't buy out an existing maps provider.

That's more or less what they did, the maps are coming from TomTom and Waze. The main issue with the iOS 6 maps application appears not to be with the map data itself, but with the (lack of) points-of-interest and their accuracy, which cripples the search functions. A company like TomTom is mainly concerned with maps and points-of-interest for car navigation, much less with finding individual shops, landmarks or other places you find by other means than street address. Probably you won't have any problems finding gas stations, motels or roadside restaurants and such with iOS 6 maps, but good luck finding all widget shops in New York. TomTom's navigation units do have some points-of-interest outside of what you'd expect from a satnav, but it's a far, far cry from the amount of data Google has.

As it stands, I don't think there is any single party besides Google that has so much diverse geographically indexed data. There simply is no company that Apple could have bought to fill that gap. It will probably take them years to gather even half of the data Google Maps already provides.

The article identifies Dudley and Stratford-upon-avon as broken in Apple's app. Both Dudley and Stratford-upon-avon are identified fine in the TomTom (nee Tele Atlas) online route planner if you search by name [1]

If you compare the first example image from the article [2] with the TomTom data [3] you can see the minor roads are present in TomTom's data, present in Google's data, but absent in the screenshot of Apple's software.

This may well indicate a problem with Apple's software.

[1] http://routes.tomtom.com [2] http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/63010000/jpg/_63010615... [3] http://routes.tomtom.com/map/Sunderland%2520Street%252C%2520...

I looked up Sunderland Street, Tickhill, England on the new Maps app, and all the streets shown in the old Maps screenshot in the second image are there. Perhaps they've already added the missing data? The Satellite imagery in that area remains particularly bad, though. I think if Apple can iterate and improve the app quickly, the initial errors won't be that significant.

My best guess is there's a problem in serving the map data up to users.

Vector slippy maps run on bounding box searches - if I look at New York, my client says to the server "Tell me all the roads within this square" with the latitude and longitude of wherever I'm looking.

There's a lot of data - too much to store on one server - and the data doesn't all shard naturally. You can divide the world up into squares and store different squares on different servers, but long roads cross many squares, big objects like country borders belong in many squares, and when you're zoomed out your view covers many squares.

The server also has to be clever; I don't actually want every road in New York or the data would take forever to load. I only want the major roads when I'm zoomed out.

All these problems are solvable - spatial databases like PostGIS have been able to perform bounding box queries for years - but I don't know of anyone using PostGIS to support the millions of users Google have. It's well known that for regular data Google has things like BigTable, fancy NoSQL stuff that's supposed to scale well; I assume they have a geospatial database along similar lines. It's possible Apple decided to develop something similar.

My guess as to how [1] came about is that the user started zoomed out, so they only got sent major roads, then when they zoomed in some hiccup prevented loading the minor roads. This could have been as simple as the user's wifi going down, or it could that Apple's database servers are overloaded or have bugs.

[1] http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/63010000/jpg/_63010615...

I have been using 6 since the first beta versions and one thing I have noticed is sometimes they show up, sometimes they are misplaced and sometimes they are not even there. My rough guess that this may have something to do with the accuracy of your location seed, and the algorithm they use to place stuff around where they think you are. I would imagine they factor it in for error correction and maybe when they get a less accurate seed, it throws everything off. It's a wild guess but based on my limited observation it seems like something like that is happening, some times it nails it and sometimes you get a WTF. I usually just do another search and it clears it up, but that only works if you know what you are looking for, which is my general use case for maps.

Still, even as a Gooner, to not be able to find Old Trafford with a search for Manchester United Football Club is beyond fail. It's the most popular ground and most successful club in the country.

> That's more or less what they did, the maps are coming from TomTom and Waze.

No wonder it's so terrible. I have Waze but I see it as nothing more than a navigation toy. It has turn by turn but otherwise it's pretty terrible compared to google maps.

I'm downgrading back to 5.1.1.

Tangent: Waze also wants to kill you.

That may sound flip, but I'm very serious. Their app commits the cardinal sin of going out of its way to distract people who are driving a ton of metal and plastic at high speeds (what the hell is a mapping application doing with "pick-ups" on the road and why the hell is it beeping at me for it?!). It's the most irresponsible app I've seen on a phone. I don't call many companies "evil" but Waze seems maliciously so.

They've bought at least 2 map-related companies so far (Poly9 and C3) and are using existing datasets (e.g. tomtom's), but Apple doesn't actually move really fast: just look at PA Semi, we're only finally seeing their work with the A6 (allegedly, to be confirmed). Apple bought P.A. 4 years ago...

I'm not sure that's a great comparison: four years would seem about right, given PA Semi's main expertise at the time of acquisition was Power rather than ARM. Designing a custom ARM core isn't rocket science, but it's pretty close: plus you've then got to actually get the things fabricated at sufficient yield.

I am not sure they could have done things much quicker to be honest.

If you think mapping and cartography are much easier, you've never given that a shot, it's a can of worms.

If i recall correctly, PA Semi's founder(s?) were from the DEC StrongARM team - so there might have been some prior experience.

Apple's decision to go with an in-house map app has been a long time coming. They've been acquiring mapping companies for the last few years and have been (attempting) to build that core competency so that these kind of issues were minimal when they made the switch.

As far as Google giving them turn-by-turn capabilities-- that's really the special sauce that sets Android apart. It was probably available, but at a price that Apple didn't want to pay. Plus, Apple probably didn't like that they weren't getting their 30% on the revenue from local search in the Google Maps app.

So, in the long run this will work out for Apple. Sure, the users will be affected in the short term and it may never actually be as good as Google Maps.... but hey look, shiny pictures of 3D buildings

You know, reduced accuracy and functionaliy like that might be acceptable for an email client or a web browser (no copy and paste, other quality of life features) but not a mapping application.

Before Google Maps, digital maps were HORRIBLE. Even the first iterations of Google Maps were better than just about everything, save for a Thomas Guide. Everyone has gotten used to putting data into a map application and being returned a reasonalbly correct set of instructions or representation of data.

This is inexcusable today. As far as horrible changes you can make to a smartphone, this ranks way up there (short of having a dialer that doesn't work).

Why didn't they just buy TomTom with their war chest instead of building in-house? It seems to me like they would be familiar with navigation software.

Ultimately I imagine that Apple will get Maps solid eventually, but not delivering a solid product initially will cost them.

The issue isn't the Maps application, it's the dataset which in part comes from TomTom. Buying TomTom wouldn't have necessarily improved the data that TomTom would be using, they'd have just ended up with a GPS/Mapping company.

Incidentally they did buy a couple of companies related to mapping, so they've got some in-house knowledge of mapping but a poor dataset will always be poor no matter how many smart people are sat looking at it.

TomTom has been powering GPSs for years, someone would have noticed if the data was as bad as this before. And even if they hadn't (which they didn't because their data is fine), Apple should have. Whichever way you slice it, the buck stops with Apple, the biggest and richest company in the world and their world renowned eye for detail and software development competency.

Depends entirely on how the data is being used, what set of data they're using and so on. I've found that Maps is fine for driving instructions in my area of North East England, but that Walking directions are occasionally missing or not quite right.

"The issue isn't the Maps application, it's the dataset which in part comes from TomTom." ... "Depends entirely on how the data is being used"

One statement contradicts my statement, and the other supports it.

Possibly could have done with being more clear instead of a quick reply.

The Maps application probably does have some flaws, but it seems a lot of the flaws are coming from it's mapping data that's stored. This is why buying TomTom wouldn't improve the situation, as the data set itself is where the issue is. In response to ZeroGravitas' statement that TomTom would have noticed before it does depend entirely on how the data set from TomTom is being used but that doesn't necessarily mean that the application is flawed, it could indicate that the data points they've been supplied with aren't consistent for what the application is trying to do.

Apple has made a mistake though, ZeroGravitas is bang on about the buck stopping there. In the UK however we're seeing all sorts of mapping data glitches causing the issues, rather than anything on an application specific level. But it's still Apple's fault, but I stand by the point of them buying TomTom not helping the bail out the boat they're in.

I see, thanks for the clarification. I live in the US, and TomTom is generally pretty reliable here as far as the software and data goes.

> Why didn't they just buy TomTom with their war chest instead of building in-house?

They're using Tomtom's dataset, it's not like buying the company would improve the quality of the dataset.

Tomtom might just be spouting BS (and I doubt it because they've made GPS's for years), but from the article:

"User experience fully depends on the choices these manufacturers make."

"We are confident about our map quality, as selling 65 million portable navigation devices across the world and more than 1.4m TomTom apps for iPhone in the past two years reaffirms this quality."

I don't want to claim to know what Steve would have done, but this does not seem at all unlike him. He was extremely focused on user experience, but he was also a huge believer in bringing technologies under Apple's control, and making hard decisions that would benefit Apple and Apple users in the long run.

I can think of plenty of things that Apple did that everybody hated on day 1 because they caused immediate pain, but in the long run were for the best. The decision to drop almost all existing connectors for USB. Mac OS X (which was just unusably bad for a year or two, if your apps even ran on it yet). The Intel transition.

The complaints continue today: the Macbook Retina display means half my apps look bad, and the Lightning connector is a slap in the face to everyone with 30-pin docks. And Maps version 1 is terrible (even though they look better than Google's first Maps release, to me).

No surprise at all that Apple wants to be in full control of every app they ship on iOS. The last time I remember them doing that on the Mac was perhaps Internet Explorer. Can you remember how bad Safari 1.0 was?

Go to maps.google.com, tap "Install on home screen". Really, I agree that this is not ideal for the average user but you, as an HN visitor, should not have much trouble performing such a minor step to get your functionality back (and Google's web app even has a few new features compared to the old native App)

There are good reasons for Apple to have their own mapping that will eventually lead to a better experience. Think about how many Apple apps already need some kind of geolocation (Find iPhone, Find Friends, location based reminders), there are lots of potential synergies there. It just takes a while to catch up on the half a decade of experience Google has had in doing it.

Well said. Apple should have their own maps app. Bummer it's as bad as it is right now, so find a workaround and trust it will get better in time...

One thing that's still missing (or at least well buried) in the mobile version of maps.google.com on iOS is Street View.

I'm always confused about people who complain about battery life not lasting over a day. How often are you not near a source of electricity at least once a day?

That being said, my Nexus S tends to run out after about 10 hours now, which is intensely frustrating.

> How often are you not near a source of electricity at least once a day?

It's a major issue when traveling, which is when you want your fancy smartphone mapping features the most. If you want to be able to use it later in the day, you have to be careful not to use it too much earlier.

I've been pleasantly surprised with the Galaxy Nexus battery life though, which usually lasts me just about two days.

A car charger usb port has been a one of the more useful things I've gotten for my car in the past few years.

that helps when travelling in a car but if backpacking or on a plane, bus, train, or in less developed cities plugs can be rather difficult to find.

I'm always confused about people who complain about battery life not lasting over 10 hours.

Get up from hotel room and leave before 8 to make it to the conference. On the move all day till it ends around 6. Starving. Time to Yelp up a good place to eat in this town and map my way there. Oh wait.

God help you if you took pictures or used your map application much during the actual course of the day.

The day smartphones can allow a user to use every core application heavily (maps, email, voice, camera) all day from the time they leave their bed in the morning till the time they return to it will be a great day imho. It isn't every day that you're travelling for business, but it's these users and these situations that feel the pain points of battery life the most. It happens to millions of people all the time, every day.

I think you missed the jab the parent post took at the grandparent post.

Just because you don't think you need x amount of hours of battery doesn't make it useless for everyone else.

Also, people who question why do you need more? Because you can do more things. Our usage of smartphones is increasing in many ways and improved battery life should not be counted in terms of how many hours of talktime it will give you, but how many hours of <insert heavy battery eating application here> use it will give you.

>I think you missed the jab the parent post took at the grandparent post.

Wait. Are you saying I missed an expression of sarcasm on the internet? Sorry manaskarekar, but that's impossible.

For one, when travelling, you can sometimes go for a while without having a chance to plug in and charge (due to not being on one place for long, bags being inaccessible, not having outlets on a long plane ride, etc).

But even when not travelling, I will sometimes forget to plug my phone in one night. It's really frustrating when it dies the next morning before I have a chance to recharge it again.

The unfortunate irony is I need my phone the most when I'm away from my computer for long periods of time, and these are the only times I run out of battery. I run out of battery maybe three times a year, but when it happens it's often a pain.

what's the point on having a battery if you have to charge it often? Since obviously there are solutions that drain less battery, "charge it more often" is an inferior experience.

on battery life, i get anywhere from 1.5 to 3 days on my HSPA+ nexus (from play store) the way i use it. definitely have never sweated getting through a day.

* fair amount of web browsing

* little or no media or games

* heavy twitter, fairly heavy facebook

* 50+ SMS/gvoice messages per day

* 50+ emails a day

* ~1-2 hours of phone

* ~30 mins of tethering a day

coming from an iphone myself i was worried about battery life on the nexus, but it actually does better than my iphone did.

For me iOS6 & iPhone5 = WTH Apple?

Maps suck for me because.... - google map links found in google search and almost every website are useless. I click these links weekly and now with ios6 when clicked these once very useful links take me no where useful( I know it's a google map link but...)

- plugging ios6 into my car via USB renders turn by turn useless...UNLESS I am listening to something on iTunes or spotify then I will hear Siri speak turn by turn?

iPhone 5... - Millions and millions of iPhone owners now have to buy more power cords after ten years of using the same one? Why not go with wireless charging?

I look forward to an Android phone that doesn't look utterly ghastly. I know this is shallow, but my phone is a device which I use to interact with the world far more than any other so it needs to avoid offending my eyes.

The moment Samsung or someone came out with a beautiful, fast Android phone with great hardware and a decent manageable size (S3 is too big) I'd buy it in a heartbeat. The software itself is pretty great - especially the camera app on the S3 for example.

I think the One X is a beautiful device personally.


Thanks! Funnily enough, I was just looking at that. It's pretty good. Any ideas why the reviews are substantially lower than, say, the S3? I know this isn't a review site, but hopefully your reply will help more than just me. I.e. do you have one and if so, what are your experiences?

No, I haven't used either device. S3 might have better reviews, but if "beautifulness" is important to you, I think the One X is much better looking. Everything I read makes the One X sound like it's at a least among the best 3 or 4 phones out right now, so although it might not be as good as the S3 overall, it's probably pretty good. And it apparently has an outstanding display, which I'm guessing is something you value as well. Not trying to push you either way, just saw that you were looking for a good looking device and thought I'd point out the One X if you weren't aware of it.

If battery life if your thing, look at the Droid Razr Maxx HD.

Daft name, but high resolution screen, jelly bean (android 4.1) pre-installed, and fantastic battery life compared to most smart phones


Just add maps.google.com to your home screen. I was doing that even before the new iOS. It's better than the new Maps app or the old one. Bicycle directions!

Also, FYI, the previous Maps app did use Google Maps, but the app itself was written by Apple. I once was at a Google event and asked a Googler who works on Maps about it. They have been frustrated for years that they could not update that app when they added new features to Google Maps. I expect within a short time we will see an iOS Google Maps that is on par with the Android app.

The only problem with any maps app written by Google is it cannot be the default. Friend texts you an address? It will always open in Apple Maps.

Also every 3rd party app using MapKit is stuck with Apple's maps. Google would need to release a GoogleMapKit iOS-Library for 3rd Party apps. iOS limitations are really showing now, it 's so disappointing to see Apple making things worse (new Maps, new AppStore), without providing proper 3rd party access to core functions and better cross-app communication. Instead of getting baked-in Facebook-Sharing with iOS 6, they should've made that an API, something every service can plug into, like Android's Sharing System. It's a shame, the hardware is so awesome, but the software is going down the drain, it desperately needs to be opened up more. For the record, the iPhone is now the only modern device I know of, that you can't access Google StreetView. No app, not through Safari, you just can't. I think it should be clear that something is wrong, when such an advanced device, can't do something as simple as that.

> proper 3rd party access to core functions and better cross-app communication

That right there is, to me, the biggest miss in iOS and why I am quite ready to move to Android entirely: it is very convenient to be able to share data between apps. Take a picture with the camera, share it out of the gallery into an editor, then just the same share it out of the editor into an SMS, Twitter status, an Evernote, or anything else that registered itself for that filetype. I love it so much I actually miss the functionality on all the desktop operating systems. iOS, by comparison, forces one to use either the predefined list of sharing services, or to keep saving things and opening them in each app one by one.

I can see that Apple has noticed the omission, judging by the 'arrow out of the square' share buttons showing up everywhere from desktop Safari to Mail.app, but it's still very limited and by comparison.

That's an iOS design flaw, not Google's problem.

Yes, Android's intents are nice for allowing users to change that.

I've been using my Nexus 7 for several weeks now. I still think Android has a way to go in the UI/UX area but it seems a lot better in Jelly Bean compared to older versions of Android I have tried.

However, the number one feature I wish I had on my iPhone is the Android intents system. It is seriously great. I'd love to be able to set the default application for different actions. When I tell my Nexus 7 to play a particular song it will now launch Spotify to play the song I requested. I should be able to do this with Siri. This would be a huge feature for me.

And a word of warning, at least for those outside the US, you are probably still better using cyclestreets.net than googles cycle directions, They sent me down a dual carriageway last weekend (and generally got every part of a 50 miles journey wrong)

For those in the Netherlands, I can recommend the planner by 'de Fietsersbond': http://www.fietsersbond.nl/fietsrouteplanner/

Interesting. I use a regular GPS with the maps of OpenFietsMap. It's mostly accurate, and pretty awesome.

Don't know what country you're in, but cycling down a dual carriageway is not particulary uncommon where I live.

I expect within a short time we will see an iOS Google Maps that is on par with the Android app.

I wonder if Google will do that. Surely they want people to use Android, and "better maps on Android", would be a nice selling point.

No. Google want people using their services. They don't care if people are using Android or not - Android is simply a platform upon which they can get users to use their services. That is their only vested interest.

Right Android exist because Google feared that people could be locked out of Google services. Google services and access to them, is their first priority.

Google wants people to use Google, not specifically Android even if it is a handy portal into the world of Google Apps and Services.

>I wonder if Google will do that. Surely they want people to use Android, and "better maps on Android", would be a nice selling point.

The more difficult problem will be getting the app past Apple when it so clearly 'duplicates functionality in iOS.' My understanding is that one of the main drivers behind the change on Apple's part is that they wanted to collect user location data (and deprive Google of it), which doesn't do the job if 95% of the user base switches to the Google app straight away.

But it would also be a huge marketing win if Google Maps became the go-to mapping application despite Apple's version being a core application and one of the most trumpeted new features in iOS.

Why? Google Maps is excellent. I'm not sure they need "marketing" in any way.

I'm talking about negative press towards Apple being a relative positive for Google. If in 6 months the first thing new iPhone users do is install the Google Maps app and hide the built-in Apple solution, then at least that portion of iOS 6 will be deemed a failure.

On the other hand, they are trying to monetize the Android Maps app by including paid local offers and the like. There's nothing stopping them from trying to make money from the iOS user base the same way.

I can't find the link just now, but Google has stated previously that they're working on one.

Why would Apple allow a native iOS maps app by Google, that competes with their core Maps app, in the AppStore?

They already allow turn-by-turn navigation apps, and allow applications for GMail, Chrome (thought they don't get the full baked in system feel). For the most part the duplicated functionality requirements aren't as strict as they were from 2008-2010.

I think they'll definitely allow a Maps app from Google if they submit one. I also think that Google very likely wanted more updates and possibly more money for their map data. Apple likely viewed this as something that was always going to be painful but something they needed to just do and get behind them. I also wonder/hope/suspect that they may already be adding more data based on reports of landmarks that weren't appearing, now appearing.

This is also a nice point: http://blog.lumatic.com/post/31863865686/ive-been-using-ios-... Usage data is what improves maps, which they'll now have a lot of. Though I am surprised they haven't picked a better provider then just TomTom, perhaps that's also in the works.

Because that would be better for users.

There are two basic attitudes a company can have. A) We exist to create value for our customers. B) Our customers are our property and exist for our benefit.

Basically, the company's there either to serve or to exploit. Most businesses are of the former sort. Many monopolists and oligopolists hold the later view. E.g., cable companies and cellphone carriers.

If Apple were smart and user focused about this, they would have launched their own maps in beta as an add-on. Then they would have revved it until it was just as good as Google Maps for most people. Only then would have they turned dickish and kicked Google Maps off the platform.

Why wouldn't they? In the App Store there are all sorts of browsers that compete with Safari (I know that they still have to use the built in WebView, but still), mail apps (including Gmail), that compete with Mail, camera apps that compete with the Camera app, to-do lost apps that compete with Reminders, and even many existing navigation apps, etc.

There's no reason it wouldn't be allowed in if Google complies with the guidelines...


Maps is expected to be the key monetization engine in mobile, sharing mobile ads with Google is anathema.

Maps 'replicates substantially similar content' in IOS. This one has been used quite a few times.

Apple can be pretty arbitrary about apps as we've seen but by and large from a business perspective its one of their core capabilities they will want to own.

Of course I could be completely wrong here, we'll see as this plays out of course.

Seems like rejecting a native Google Maps app would be an acknowledgement of Apple's inability to compete.

I would be very happy about such an app although the new YouTube app made me rather pessimistic. It's for example not available on the iPad and you cannot send links to videos by mail.

Google is surely working on a native iOS maps app, but (when) will Apple approve it?

When will Google submit it? I suspect Google will let Apple (and us users) stew in this for a while. Just long enough so everyone feels the pain but not long enough for them to forget Google Maps

Personally, StreetView down every little single-lane road in Ireland is a big deal for me (landscape photography) whereas 3D flyovers are like the Coverflow of mapping (looks pretty but ultimately not very useful)

No joke, I would switch to Android in a hear beat if they don't. I am 100% reliant on my map app and therefore am willing to pay for anything with the best experience.

Same here. Used iPhone since the day it was released. But I can't survive without a functional map, buying an Nexus One tonight. Good Bye iPhone :(

Might I suggest getting a Galaxy Nexus instead of a Nexus One? The Nexus One is pretty dated at this point...

You could just pay the for the Tom Tom app for iOS.

Less responsive updates (I've gotten things personally corrected on Google maps in 3 days or less, while as of 2012, one of the streets in my hometown on TT is STILL wrong despite this being reported multiple times more than five freaking years ago), very high resource usage (phone seems to slow way down if TT is open or backgrounded), it also uses a ton of your storage memory for map data, and doesn't have the same amount of addon data (street view, reviews, that kind of thing) as Google.

And you have to shell out $50 for it, last I checked.

Google's offering is better in every way.

Android's google maps have been better by features than iOS's google maps for a couple years now, since Google could update the Android app. Vector graphics since 2010, local integration (reviews, including zagat now), more advanced directions options, and so on.

Apple aren't completly stupid. I doubt they'd delibrately hobble the iPhone by leaving this as the best maps you can get.

They have.

maps.google.com regularly crashes Safari on my iPad. I really hope for a native app from Google – and given recent trends, that’s not unlikely. (Google has some great apps on the App Store and they seem to want to cover all bases.) It just might take some time (I’m guessing several months).

This bothers me to no end. One of the major things beside the odd dimensions of the iPhone 5 screen, that prevent me from switching from Android. However the screen is clearly a bigger let-down for most Android users who are used to larger screens.

Jobs would never have allowed such an atrocity to occur. The sub-par Gmail integration is another pain point.

Roger McNamee expressed the same misgivings on Bloomberg the other day. He said Apple is starting to act like a bad monopolist.

  > Jobs would never have allowed such an atrocity to occur
iPhone 5 is more likely to be blessed by Jobs than not. I am not sure how long Apple product pipeline is, but I seriously doubt they had iPhone 4S ready for production, but not iPhone 5 in the advanced design stage.

On the other hand I don't give a damn about "odd" dimensions. There is nothing odd in them for me.

>iPhone 5 is more likely to be blessed by Jobs than not. I am not sure how long Apple product pipeline is, but I seriously doubt they had iPhone 4S ready for production, but not iPhone 5 in the advanced design stage.

Yes and no. Jobs may have signed on to the idea of replacing the maps with an in-house solution, but the implementation wouldn't have been finished until shortly before launch. And when it turned out to be as bad as it seems to be then he might very reasonably have reverted to the previous maps app for at least this version of iOS (if not scrapping the idea entirely).

The tall-narrow screen is just a case of classic Apple orthodoxy.

There is nothing in the dimensions of the iPhone 5 that make it inherently a better viewing experience over a wider configuration. If Apple had convinced itself to be less parsimonious and obtained larger (width wise) screens at better margins I'm sure they would have made that one of their USPs. Instead they cheap-ed out on the acreage.

That screen is dumb and in a sea of larger and similarly fabulous screens (including the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 which incidentally has some stellar mapping alongside other great features) it just doesn't cut it.

Tim Cook and his core team seem to be a bunch of frugal zealots. He bungled the layoffs at the Apple stores too. Upon a backlash he had to hire some of them back. This launch is probably the first one where nearly every detail leaked well ahead of time. The screen, the connector, the no-NFC, the LTE and several other parts. It certainly is all down-hill from here. There is no longer that halo around the Apple experience. Unless of course people want to accessorize their attire with glass-slab jewelry which the iPhone 5 has been likened to. The first-on-iPhone apps are the only draw.

The narrow-but-tall screen isn't meant for viewing experience; it's meant for holding-in-your-hand experience.

The iPhone is uncomfortably small to me. I don't think my hands are that abnormally large, but my 4.3" HTC Desire HD is a much better size fit. Even so, my next phone might very well be one with an even larger screen - I use my phone flat in my hand with screen facing me about ten times more than I hold it up in any way that requires a great grip.

It's not a coincidence that the top selling Android phones have gradually been ones with larger and larger screens.

The only valid answer to this debate would be for Apple to acknowledge that not everyone has the same size hands, and release two different iPhones.

They don't appear to be interested in doing the obvious right thing here.

That's not the "only valid answer". Maybe people with big hands can just buy Androids, and Apple can cater to the small-to-medium-size-hand market. I don't know if Apple has a problem with that, but I don't.

Wild guess: you have small-to-medium-size hands.

If you love Apple products so much that you feel personally slighted that they don't fit comfortably in your big hands, I guess that's just your cross to bear.

I've been on IOS 6 since a few days after the beta came out and I can tell you that the new Maps is nearly worthless, especially if you've entered a decent amount of data into Google Maps. Yes the navigation sucks, yes there's other huge basic issues, but the killer for me is that I have over 270 starred places in Google Maps and without being able to get to that data, Apple's new option is nearly useless.

I don't want to gloss over how much the basics suck on this app, they suck profoundly. The bookmarks is the worst loss though. I have an iPhone for work but I'm very glad I no longer am under a personal iPhone contract because with the lack of features in IOS 6, I don't see how I'd ever go back to using an Apple phone full time.

It's a KILLER atlas though, way better than Google Earth on iPad.

It's just Apple's turn. It has been said many times, "It's an early version of an application Company X copied from another company. I'm sure Company X will improve it to a workable but inferior product in future versions."

The first debacle with their Maps app (not crediting OpenStreetMap.org) gave me the feeling that Apple doesn't really have experience with software and data at the scale upon which they are currently operating. Sometimes it looks as if they are using too many interns to write important code.

What is a concern is that there seems to be no grasp of the difference in responsibility a developer must recognize between GarageBand and a mapping application. Sure it is irritating if one's remix of Call me Maybe doesn't come out quite the intended way. But an appendicitis sufferer may die if they wind up five miles from the hospital.

Correction: OSM data was used in iPhoto (and on OS X, I think?), not maps.

I like the new Maps app. I know it's objectively horrible and am not disputing any of the ironclad cases everyone else has made against it. All I'm saying is this: I punched in directions to Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown last night, driving from Oak Park. I threw my phone on the passenger seat and drove. The sensible route it plotted for me was unworkable due to traffic, so I detoured through UIC campus. The moment I diverged from its route, without me doing anything, it replotted a new route, and then a series of new routes as I ignored those directions, until I got to Roosevelt and followed its directions the rest of the way there --- which were much better than the route I would have taken.

Obviously, I fall into a specific class of Maps user:

* Using directions primarily when I'm driving

* In a major city

But that's a big class of users and, so far, Maps is better for that use case. The Maps app from 10.5 was unusable for driving.

But that's a big class of users and, so far, Maps is better for that use case. The Maps app from 10.5 was unusable for driving.

Thank you, you've written a more useful summary review of the new maps app than anything else I've read lately.

I've tried driving with the previous Maps app - with a borrowed iPhone, I don't yet own one - and was really surprised at how unusable it was. I was left thinking that not a single person on that project could have attempted to drive on their own with it, otherwise how else could it be so bad?

rant over

I also gave the driving directions a shot, the voice cues are great, the visuals look fantastic and really awesome. Also when you deviate it doesnt give you some "ROBOT RECALCULATING" voice, instead she smoothly cuts over to the next set of directions.

The new 3d looks good, the map tiles need work but they just look DIFFERENT and not necessarily "worse" to me. This is in SOMA San Francisco.

>The moment I diverged from its route, without me doing anything, it replotted a new route, and then a series of new routes as I ignored those directions, until I got to Roosevelt and followed its directions the rest of the way there --- which were much better than the route I would have taken.

That's how every directions' app is working. You are seriously impressed about that?

I understand the experience may not be ideal (I haven't tried it out yet, either), but take a moment to reflect on what they actually did: in a little over a year Apple completely replaced one of iOS's core technologies, one that relies on a mind-bogglingly complex and astoundingly huge data set, and is now pushing this out to millions of devices.

Most of us know what it is like to have to launch something. Launching something is never easy. We frequently talk about the MVP here on HN as well. Apple has done the difficult work of launching their MVP. Now they can make it better. It may never be as good as Google Maps, but that doesn't mean it will always be terrible.

And what's the point if it's a downgrade for users? To prove they are "awesome"? Nobody said it's easy to launch, we never doubted that.

We are simply stating a fact - that iOS6 feels handicapped if you're going to rely on maps. And maybe this is a non-issue in the USA, but for most of the rest of the world… it is. Specially for those of us who rely on google map's transport directions to navigate our city, or new cities. Gone were the days that I needed help to get to a designated location in a city I was visiting… until iOS6 came. So I'm not upgrading.

And we're not going to care how awesome Apple is for distributing a useless upgrade to millions of devices, no matter how complicated the logistics, no matter how much of a point they can prove with it.

It may not have been Apple's choice. It's more likely that the reason they had to do this was over licensing problems.

The people claiming "licensing problems" (you included) have not presented an argument that, to me, holds water.


-Google almost certainly knows Apple wants to get off of Google Maps.

-Apple's brand loyalty is going to give Apple a decent amount of time to fix their new Maps product before a significant number of people begin to bail. Relatively few people are likely to not buy an iPhone because Maps are crap; even in this thread you see a few fanboys saying "just find a workaround, they'll fix it."

-Google likes money.

To me, it seems pretty implausible that Google would say "no, you have to do [stupid thing X] to use our maps." I'd be stunned if they didn't know Apple was making their own maps product, and that Apple would be willing to say "okay, fine, we'll use ours instead" if Google's terms were too onerous. I think the idea that Google would turn down a sizable amount of money to not-really-actually-harm iOS6 and the iPhone 5 at all.

Consider also Apple's recent behavior--basically, and I hate saying this because it strikes me as facile, but it does line up--since Jobs died. The hasty and ill-conceived layoffs at Apple Stores, the prodigious number of leaks related to the iPhone 5, and the more traditionally corporate behaviors of Apple's upper management (i.e., Cook and the shareholders' meetings, which he seems to regard as being much more important to his job than Jobs ever did) all point to a more market-share-focused rather than product-focused company, and I have no trouble whatsoever believing that Apple decided that they wouldn't lose enough users because of a terrifyingly bad Maps product that they should pay Google for continued use.

And I think most reasonable people would concede that's no less likely than "licensing problems". It may not be accurate, but your claim of "more likely" reads as fanboyism to me.

Do you have any proof of licensing problems? Most people say it was Apple which wanted to have more control over one of fundamental features of a phone, which is perfectly reasonable from a business point of view.

Then they shouldn't sell it as an improvement - "oh look now we have shiny vector maps! better than ever before!". This is just a lie and misleading / deceptive.

>in a little over a year

That's just a made up timeline. They may have been working on a maps replacement for years.

Whatever length of time it is Apple still did it in a fraction of the time Google has been working on its maps.

Also maybe I live in a weird place (Minneapolis) but I've been using the new maps since WWDC everyday and honestly have no complaints, the turn by turn is quite good as I just used it non stop in New Orleans.

A fraction of the time?

Apple took data from 3rd parties (Yelp, TomTom, and many others) and integrated it all together with their own Maps app.

Google has a lot more features than Apple right now, and a large part of their data is sourced from their own works. Streetview gives them good road data. Local gives them all the data that yelp has (and then some).

Apple's Maps is probably where goole was with maps back in 2007 or 2008.

Are you saying Google doesn't use 3rd party data? Because that would be completely false. Look at the copyright notice in the bottom corner of Google Maps for anywhere outside the US/Canada/UK - around my city the data comes from WhereIs, Sensis, Tele Atlas and GBRMPA as well as Google. Other countries have data from AutoNavi, MapKing, SK M&C, ZENRIN, GISrael, INEGI, and many others.

His point is still pretty valid. How long would it take you to develop and roll out the maps application at the quality it is now, for a MVP?

The logic behind creating an MVP doesn't really make sense when the market for the product isn't competitive.

Apple didn't offer their mapping solution as an option in the App Store to judge interest; they forced anyone who buys new or upgrades for any reason to use it.

It depends on TomTom's license fee, but with Apple sized pockets probably not as long as you'd think.

This is a poor defense of a lousy product.

Sure among technology wonks, it's a good discussion.

But that in no way excuses releasing a major component that is broken for many users.

For something so critical as maps on a smartphone, Apple should have released the new maps alongside the old ones, and given users the option; let the early adopters iron out the bugs. Needless complexity is not the Apple way, but I don't see a choice in this case; the feature is too critical to compromise on.

This is not an MVP of some new SaaS. This is maps on a smartphone; perhaps the most important feature of a smartphone other than the dialer. To do this so jarringly to your users is inexcusable.

There are localization issues as well. Some place names in Turkey appear to be transferred over from legacy windows-1254 code page (e.g. Avcılar displayed as Avcýlar) Some have replacement letters for certain characters (dotless i, ş, ç, ğ). For example, "Sık orman" (dense forest) became "Sik orman" (penis forest).

Overall (at least in Turkey) the legends appear to come from an old, low quality source.

Here in Japan, I managed to spot a place with a Hangul (Korean) label! God knows how that happened...

You know what else sucks on the iPhone? The notes app - That's why I use Evernote. And the tasks app - that's why I use Clear. And the mail app - that's why I use Gmail. And iBooks - which is why I use the Kindle app.

Point is, you can download an app that works better for you if you're not happy with Maps anymore, just like you could with all of the other built in Apple software. I think Apple really needed to control their own destiny with the Maps software, and most non-geeks are probably not going to notice that their Maps app is getting it's data from somewhere else now. They probably didn't realize it was coming from Google Maps in the first place.

>> Point is, you can download an app that works better for you if you're not happy with Maps anymore, just like you could with all of the other built in Apple software.

Unless it “duplicate features that come with the iPhone” (http://m.techcrunch.com/2009/07/27/apple-is-growing-rotten-t...) or requires its own rendering engine (http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2008/11/02/opera_m...) or competes with a profitable arm of Apple (http://m.lifehacker.com/5614752/grooveshark-iphone-app-pulle...)

None of those things apply anymore.

They don't? I thought you still couldn't run your own JIT-capable JS implementation on iOS.

That's because "executes arbitrary code" is still a reason for rejection, unlike "duplicates core functionality."

Not because Apple has changed their policy, but because people found workarounds or Apple made exceptions.

This illustrates another pain point for Apple: the inability to change default applications.

Say Google releases a maps app for iPhone. Every time you get an address in a text, email, Facebook, Yelp, etc it's going to open up in Apple Maps requiring you to manually copy/paste everything in another app.

I agree completely, this is a significant problem.

Mobile Safari is slow and crashy, good thing I can replace it with… waitaminute. As far as I know there's no decent replacement for Maps either; it remains to be seen if Apple will permit a direct replacement. If Google doesn't release one themselves, it could be problematic for a third party to create an app using Google's map API - that's centered around use in web apps, although their "Maps for Business" might be suited. Still, it's a hell of a risk to take. (but possibly with a handsome reward)

You can replace Safari with Opera, Chrome, Dolphin, or several others. You can't set them as default but you can replace them. There are plenty of map alternatives too - Open Street Map, TomTom, Google Earth, etc.

Those alternative browsers either use the Safari rendering engine or render offline, so are significantly crippled compared to something like Firefox for Android.

Maps on Chrome mobile :-)

In case you're not aware: Chrome on iOS uses UIWebView, which is Safari without the fast JavaScript engine.

The web interface for Google Maps certainly works on Safari, but it's certainly not as slick or as fast as the app. Maybe this is due to connection speed, not browser speed, but the bottom line is the user experience is worse (though the features are much better).

I use Nitrous.


I am aware that I am free to use UIWebView based browsers, which are slower than Safari and just as crashy. Freedom!

Yep-- the problem is that apps competing with a native app are pretty hamstrung. Any address you click on on a web page, in an email, in a calendar event etc-- are going go the Apple App. The alternative is an awkward copy-paste. It's similar to the power the IE used to destroy netscape before the DoJ stepped in and forced them to allow people to change their default browser. Apple isn't anywhere near a monopoly, so won't be forced to change this soon.

None of those apps are competing with Apple on a level playing field, because all four of the Apple apps update in the background (via iCloud or special privileges) and third parties either get a restricted version (eg no web API for iCloud) or nothing at all (background mail polling).

Around me (SE Michigan) it's a huge improvement over both the old Maps app and any of the turn-by-turn iOS alternatives I've tried. Using Siri and saying "directions to..." any local business I can think of brings up turn-by-turn directions in a snap, and it looks great. Smooth animations, great fit and finish on the UI. I suspect that their European maps are of lower quality and/or the writer cherry-picked some entertaining but not terribly representative examples.

The maps around me in Brisbane, Australia seem pretty good, but I only spent five minutes playing around. All the searches I tried (some for street addresses, some for POIs) got the right address.

So far it seems no worse around the city than Google Maps but only time will tell if that's the case.

Poor old Tom Tom is completely on the back foot and trying to distance itself as far as it can without throwing a super major partner under the bus.

None of us will know the complete depth of their relationship, but TomTom shouldn't be so removed from this PR. What they should have said is "Although Apple provides additional layers of functionality on top of our map data, we've reached out to Apple to help support in fixing these issues."

That sounds a lot nicer than "it's not our problem"...

I am reminded once again at how much it takes to put together a "maps" experience like Google Maps does. That Apple's initial version sucks rocks isn't particularly surprising, there is a lot of integration and a lot of data, the world is a really really big place. Its very hard for humans to curate it too.

Next up, Apple will get their own direct source of satellite imagery, then they will drive/fly around major towns getting direct information about local restrictions, then they will build a system which does nothing more than cross-connect and correlate GIS data from various sources and test for sanity. Perhaps they will create a crowd sourced tool for directly feeding map errors into the system to triage the worst areas.

Its a big undertaking.

As a long-term Apple user/fan, I'm both incredibly disappointed and intensely optimistic with this change.

I've been using iOS6 since the first beta and saw the backlash coming. I think "Street View" is Google Maps' killer feature and no amount of "3D View" is going to replace the ability to virtually drive your route (or see the storefront, the turn you need to make, etc.).

On the other hand, Google has a habit of releasing amazingly disruptive products (maps, gmail, etc.) and then the pace of innovation of each app slows dramatically. What was the last "innovation" gmail did? Priority inbox? Buying Sparrow?

I'm optimistic this is the start of an arms race in the mapping area (Apple: please tackle email next); this needed to occur sooner rather than later. We don't know the circumstances of the switch (it seems equally likely that Google precipitated the change as Apple did) but given Apple's knack for taking a MVP and continually, doggedly improving it, I think the future is bright for iOS Mapping.

Do you think Apple would have any chance in an arms race over Search with Google? If the answer is no, why do you think Apple has any chance in Maps?

On the desktop? No.

On iOS devices? Absolutely.

The issue here is that maps is about data, not about UI or hardware, or any of Apple's core competencies. Whereas Apple doesn't know anything about data, it's Google's bread and butter.

Sure, there are a few things you can do with the UI, but ultimately the new "wraparound" feature when you go around a corner in Apple Maps is worthless when you're driving, since your eyes should be on the road. But ultimately, creating a good maps product requires year after year of intense data collection and sorting, something that you can't just rush through.

> On the other hand, Google has a habit of releasing amazingly disruptive products (maps, gmail, etc.) and then the pace of innovation of each app slows dramatically. What was the last "innovation" gmail did? Priority inbox? Buying Sparrow?

Sounds a bit like everyone's favorite mobile OS from Cupertino. What was the last "innovation" in iOS?

Siri? Barely works in real life, regardless of what they might claim in TV ads.

Notifications that actually work? That was in Android for years before Apple copied it whole hog.

Copy and paste? Are you shitting me?

Not sure what the hell they were expecting to happen. You don't take an existing, working, mature, and proven solution and then replace it en masse with something unproven and untested.

This particular bit of sour grapes over Google is going to bite them in the arse.

The greatest disappointment (for me) comes from the fact that free turn-by-turn navigation is not available for iPhone 4. That particular feature made me happy about Apple's switch from Google's to their own solution. I couldn't care less for Siri, flyover maps or panorama (seriously, that one is iPhone 4S+ too), but navigation? That's a deal breaker. If Google won't provide this with their app I won't stick to iOS when my contract ends.

You can't make an omelette ... It'll be interesting to see the pace of development of this vs Google's inevitable maps app.

The mapping must be updated OTA so won't require IOS refreshes to improve the quality. But for now this app is like the stereotypical bimbo, quite pretty to look at but also pretty useless.

The new maps is way off. I took 4 pictures last night while fishing. When I looked at the gps data of where I caught the fish one was on land and three others were 4 miles off as they had me on the other end of the lake I was fishing on. Apple really messed up with this change.

Another annoying loss; no pedestrian or cycle routes, as far as I can see.

As I'm mostly a pedestrian -- I have a car, but live in the centre of a dense city where parking is a nightmare, so I walk rather than driving if at all possible -- from my point of view, this is a major regression.

There are pedestrian routes in some cities, but not all. I only know this because I was in San Francisco last week and I actually got offered them, whereas in London I'm SOL.

There was never an option to see cycle routes.

The article ends on a strange note, essentially a guy complaining that his Google SEO doesn't carry over to the new Apple app?

"Hey Joe, thanks for that article you submitted this morning. Listen, it's a bit too technical, could you add something, you know, more emotional?"

I think that's relevant though. Essentially the article states that for end users of the mapping application it's a poorer experience and step back. Secondly, business users who have come to rely upon iPhone customers to find them via search are also upset by the changes. Of course, the first group is clearly an Apple customer and therefore Apple should be concerned. It's less clear that the second group is an Apple customer so it falls more into the "People talking negatively about our brand" problem area.

According to Gruber and Rafer Apple seems to have a plan : for this plan to work however, iOS users must keep using the inferior Apple maps and Google must stay away from giving them a chance to continue to use their own ones - that will make quality of Apple maps go up and Google maps go down - they will meet in 18 months.

Gotta admire people's willingness to stretch here :) But seriously I think Google will just release a Maps app for iOS sooner or later. They've done that with most of their apps - it may not be as good and functional as Android one but it doesn't have to - the bar has been lowered.

The big problem I see is that Apple effectively removed street view from the iPhone as it's not even available in the mobile safari version of Google Maps.

I don't mind that they are working on their own maps, but I can't believe they couldn't have licensed Google maps for at least another year until their solution matured or offered some sort of advantage. The first iPhone brought the best mobile maps experience. The latest iPhone brings the worst.

To me, the real test is whether Apple will allow a map application from Google to coexist on the iPhone. I'm hoping they do. It's the right thing to do.

The issue is we don't know why they stopped licensing, although if you follow the scuttlebutt Google hiked prices of mapping, followed by Apple announcing their intent to ship their own maps, followed by Google dropping prices of mapping. Might have been an unsuccessful negotiation, Google might have made high demands, Apple might have been cads. No one knows, what we do know is the licensing agreement expired and they couldn't arrange a new one.

I've been using the maps and find them MUCH improved in the car. I wish I could turn off the voice prompts, but it is very usable and has got me where I'm going reliably.

I am using IOS 6 beta since last few months in India, it just gives the message directions could not be found even for a locations 100 meters away.

Another plus for Microsoft/Nokia.

Windows Phone with Nokia Maps / Nokia Drive is actually really good and it's not about to disappear overnight.

Apple's Maps have been good for me so far in the north east United States. I greatly prefer the UI of Apple's Maps to Navigation on Android which is way too cluttered IMO. I find it easier to get things done with Apple Maps especially with the way turn-by-turn is integrated with the pop-over notifications and lock-screen integration.

1) Go to maps.google.com in Safari on your iPhone or iPad

2) Hit Yes when it wants to know your location

3) Hit Yes when it pesters you to add it as an icon (for once, it's not bothering me). The icon is snazzy.

4) Enjoy your almost-as-good-as-the-app-was mobile Google Maps experience. Complete with transit directions. But, alas, no Street View.

Permit me a small moment of pride at my choice of life-partner.

I asked my wife if I could upgrade her phone to the new OS, but that the map app has changed for the worse and 'You may not like it... How often do you use it?' 'A few times a week'.

She's not a geek whatsoever. Has never installed an app and barely touched a preferences setting. Loves listening to the podcasts I subscribe to for her and tell her which app to use.

So I hand her the 'upgraded' phone and ask her to check out the new map app. She does a search for the office she's working in tomorrow and it pinmarks the completely wrong end of the street.

I felt bad about 'upgrading' her phone, but a minute later she hands it back to me.

She's moved the Apple map app onto the second screen and replaced it with a weblink to the Google maps site.

Clever girl ;]

Almost-as-good, but it doesn't open the app when you click an address, since there's no way to make it the default app. It'd be the same problem even if Google did release their own native Maps.

As a developer this kind of update makes me happy since it might result in Apple giving up some of its mobile phone market share to Microsoft and Google. I would much rather develop in Java or C#, instead either struggle through Objective C or use a third party developer tool to avoid doing so. Although, as an iPhone user it makes me sad. The UX with the iPhone has been amazing. I chose to use this phone even though I dislike all that is apple, just because to me when it came to my user experience it was leaps and bounds ahead of any other. Now that one of my most used apps has been pushed out temporarily it kind of makes me nervous. I have even heard who have applied iOS6, have lost all of their photos, luckily since I rely on a few jailbroken apps had not updated.

Disappointed with the iOS 6 maps ? Why don’t you give OpenStreetMap a try ? http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/IOS - it won't give you pretty satellite imagery, but maybe you'll like the maps.

In many places OSM is the most accurate mapping system and overall it's very good, but my problem is, has anyone yet built an app worth a crap on top of it? One with turn by turn, etc?

Yes they have, so the problem may be one of findability, or marketing of these apps.

I thought iOS maps was based on OSM (+ other datasets when OSM had a bad quality), similar to mapquest.

is this particularly bad in the uk? there's now a guardian article too - http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/sep/20/apple-maps-...

I'm not sure what it's like in other parts of the country but from the south east cost these are my experiences so far:

A huge swathe of the south east has no aerial photography whatsoever beyond a satellite level where contrails are clearly visible.

I tried requesting a route from my current location to a nearby train station and it gave me a route to a random pub in the next town over - this was for a search term that worked reliably in the old maps app.

Maps themselves show much less information than the equivalent google maps view. There's a fraction of the POI's available and those that are available are often 100m+ off from their actual location.

It is certainly not great where I am (Nottingham). The satellte view is currently, depending on which area of Nottingham you are in, either a vague grey cloud or huge pixelated squares.

I've got a cafe that seems to have appeared three doors down from me in a residential street, and if I search for public transport it suggests the best app for me to get to work on is one for the Paris Metro.

I am a big Apple fan, and although I've also got a Galaxy SII (for work), I've pretty much never felt the need to use that ahead of my iPhone so far. It's just become my go-to phone for mapping though.

No, just people piling on, and probably the Guardian using the BBC as a news source.

Actually, I'll disagree with you there and say that I have found the Apple map tiles to be pretty poor in London. Paddington Station, one of the main commuter rail hubs in the city, is missing entirely (the Underground station got added in recently, but the mainline station remains invisible), and the geo-coder is considerably poorer than Google's.

I develop iOS apps for a living, and I really like the platform. I've also been using the beta for about three months, and frequently I've had to pull my Galaxy S2 out to use the Android maps app. Most people won't have that luxury.

I'm looking at the map tile for London Paddington Rail Station on my iOS6 iPad right now. It's clearly there.

It seems like such an innocuous thing, but Maps can truly make or break a phone decision. There is no question that Android has a considerably better user experience when it comes to Maps given the lead that Google has. That being said, Apple certainly has the cash and time to devote to this and a better competitor (and more effort in OSM) means that we all win in a way. So it will be interesting to watch it play out.

One minor gripe with turn-by-turn. If I'm playing music/podcasts, I would have expected the volume to mute on the other media when driving directions are announced. Not so, it just turns into a garbled mess.

The compression on Siri kind of sucks too.

>> "One minor gripe with turn-by-turn. If I'm playing music/podcasts, I would have expected the volume to mute on the other media when driving directions are announced. Not so, it just turns into a garbled mess."

I don't really sue turn-by-turn but from what I understand it's supposed to lower the volume of other media playing when announcing directions and then bring the volume back when done. Might be something you can change in the settings.

It does this on mine (I haven't done turn-by-turn on iOS6 final, but when I was on the betas, it performed as expected)

Odd, it doesn't for me (either in the betas or final version). Maybe there is a setting somewhere...

Said it in another thread. maps.google.com in iOS. Bookmark to home screen.

To the people talking about this is a sign of Steve Jobs being gone. I'm sure he had his hand in wanting to get away from Google Maps. These types of things were still part of his plan. AppleTV (the none hobby version) is part of his plan. We haven't seen that. There is still a trail that Steve laid down we are walking on. It's more 5-10 years from now I imagine that will lack the touch. Maybe it is fading. It's still there though. imho.

In my mind, this will be the first major test of Tim Cook as a CEO. This is not "I get a bad signal if I hold the phone the wrong way". This is "my iPhone drove us to the wrong hospital so I wasn't able to say goodbye to my grandfather".

Problem is, I don't see what they are supposed to do except throwing massive amounts of money and manpower at the problem - but even that will take a long time to fix the major issues that are in iOS6 Maps.

It will be very interesting to see how they react to this problem.

I find the new maps app really good, one of the best driving direction apps I've seen. It is an improvement over waze in UI and the enhance backgrounding is awesome.

Maybe not as feature rich as some of the alternatives, but what do you expect in a v1? They will iterate, though the yearly releases means it will take time but it will get there. In the mean time the app store provides a lot of options for users to replace lost functionality.

Apple probably underestimated the complexity of creating and providing useful maps. I read an article recently that explained how much effort Google puts into their maps. From what I understand, every map tile has been manually reviewed and reworked based on satellite images and the data from the Google street view cars. Google is years ahead of Apple with this. It'll take a while until Apple's maps are par with Google's.


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