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Apple posted 6 Maps developer jobs in the last 10 days (search maps) (jobs.apple.com)
76 points by hownottowrite on Sept 21, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 64 comments

Well that train came down the tracks pretty quick. How on earth did they only notice this 10 days ago? If they really wanted to stick it to Google why not just pay Nokia or Bing or someone ahead of whoever they're using. Instead they stuck it to their customers.

Full disclosure, maps where I live are fine. That doesn't help me when I travel though.

We saw the same thing with Antennagate. On Friday they held the press conference where Jobs fell on his sword. On Monday they posted employment ads for 8 EEs with antenna experience.

This is apparently how Apple says "Oops." Who's running the show over there, Horsebolt McStabledoor?

(Actually those ads were posted a couple of weeks before the press conference, but they went unremarked-upon until the explanation became obvious.)

You dont by chance have that special event to where I could get it do you? I have wanted to re-watch it again for some time.

Sorry, no, I didn't run into the actual video when I was looking up the dates in question. It's hard to believe that it hasn't been immortalized on YouTube, though, just a matter of searching on the right keyword. If 'antennagate' doesn't work by itself, try adding 'schadenfreude'...

You want to watch Steve Jobs explain an antennae issue and offer everyone cases again? Why?

It's interesting to study how successful leaders, especially those with their own personality cults, behave when things aren't going their way. Maybe he's in a similar position at the moment and is looking for ideas.

Actually, it is for my 14-year old who really, really, really pays attention to how Jobs and Cook speak when asked questions. They way they carefully choose their words, but to us it seems really natural.

Seriously. Mapping on Nokia is stunning with offline driving directions and all.... How do the iSheep keep up with such mediocre product?

> How do the iSheep keep up with such mediocre product?

One feature doesn't make a phone and many people don't want or need offline driving directions? When the hell am I offline and driving? I don't know about anyone else but in Canada, that's your best chance of getting a cell signal in a rural area. Find a road.

Good point about the 10 day time frame. Perhaps that's when Google's app was submitted for review?

Maybe it's a hiring gambit. It's probably the easiest way to find the brightest and most passionate of available people. It's a default app, so ppl will jsut give them the benefit of the doubt while they fix it up and do a little poaching thereby.

The Apple Maps team must be under tremendous pressure. I wouldn't be surprised if there's some dysfunction going on in there too, given the variations in quality (e.g., if the 3D is so bad, why didn't they just cut it and introduce it as a shiny update when it's ready?)

Someone at Apple is probably kicking themselves because they didn't start on this initiative a few years earlier.

I don't know that I buy that. Development efforts have trouble all the time, no doubt even inside Apple. The problem here isn't that maps was late, it's that someone decided to pull the trigger and ship it when it wasn't ready. That's not something that can be put on the development group.

Pulling out the dead guy card again: one generally would assume that Jobs would have been using this thing and playing with it to be sure it was ready. Did Cook? Or if not, whose job was it and why didn't it happen?

Please, quit "pulling out the dead guy card". Ask why iOS 6 Maps shipped, but quit saying SJ wouldn't have allowed it to ship. I doubt you knew Jobs and, even if you did, I doubt you have any clue what he would have done in this situation.

The heart of the issue seems to be that Google and Apple could not agree on licensing terms, which is why Youtube also disappeared. It is impossible for outsiders to say why the deals broke down, but it remains that Apple was left scrambling to provide some kind of solution. The only real alternative to this Maps release would have been to have no Maps app at all.

It seems that Apple painted itself into a corner here.

Apple releases a new iPhone every year and it comes with major-ish OS update. They can't just not ship and wait until it's perfect - there's too much money riding on this upgrade cycle.

At the same time, Apple dropped contract with Google way before iOS 6 was ready.

Since delaying iPhone 5/iOS 6 combo was out of the question and they didn't prepare for the plan B (i.e. shipping Google's maps) their only option was to ship their maps regardless of how shitty they are.

Can't they do like Google with Android, and release updates for their core apps independently from the App Store?

Is the app actually a problem itself? It seems fast, slick and fairly clean to me.

The data on the other hand is pretty terrible but the good thing is that can be cleaned up server side. There is a lot of data to fix though so it will take a considerable time.

In theory, sure. In practice, that's not what they do.

scott forstall, apparently

> f the 3D is so bad, why didn't they just cut it and introduce it as a shiny update when it's ready?

Who says the 3D is bad? When you're looking in a city that has the 3D models, it's pretty great. If the problem is "not everyone has it" then that's a ridiculous goal. Gotta launch sometime.

"The Maps application is used by millions of customers and it's the best mapping program on any mobile platform."

Pretty bold to say "the best mapping program on any mobile platform".

I noticed that too. Some of the issues can be fixed over time. But how is Apple going to match street view? Start their own fleet of cars driving around the city? I just tried street view (iOS 5) on iPhone and iPad and it's really awesome. So yeah claiming "the best mapping platform on any mobile platform" is BS.

Remember this is a company with billions of dollars in the bank, and collecting street imagery is a very parallelizable task.

Lets do some basic math. Lets say you pay a driver $10/hr to drive 8 hrs a day at an average speed of 35mph in the city. That is about 250 miles covered per driver, per day and $80. So you do that for 10 days and that is 2,500 miles for $800.

Now you build 10,000 cars with street view like capabilities, call it $40,000 per car, perhaps you get a car maker to help you perhaps not. that is 400M$ for cars, and 10,000 drivers is $8M for 10 days and 250 million miles. You haven't even spent close to a billion dollars and you've got street view like imagery for every major city on the planet in 10 days. Run this program for a year and you cover every road twice with your 10,000 drivers.

Its certainly doable by Apple if they choose to go that route.

The sensor pile on top of google cars costs somewhere near $100 000, the car bolted under it is the cheap part.

Also, driving is the cheap part - structuring all the gathered data and images is a nontrivial task, you simply can't do it in a few months (as apple would need) if you don't have the know-how and software tools for this.

It would be kinda neat to have Apple and Google street view mobiles going around and pseudo-competing with each other.

Apple has the money to do it no question. However it takes more than just money. On the data collection side there's designing, building and integrating the sensor system on the car. That has to be tested. Then it needs to be replicated many times. The data collected needs to be stored somewhere. Either locally on the car or in the cloud. Either way that has to be figured out. You need to hire drivers, protect yourself from liability etc. While all of the these pieces are doable they're non-trivial. Especially when you consider the number of people involved. And that's just collecting the data.

Now Apple has to process the data and make that available to the maps app. And there needs to be software written for the maps mobile apps. Perhaps desktop too. All that needs to be tested. This "presentation" side of the problem involves a bunch of people too.

So how long do you think it takes a company the size of Apple to accomplish all that? I'd set a lower bound of one year. So for 12 months Google maps still has street view over Apple and will probably improve it (especially if they know Apple is creating a competing product).

While money isn't an issue the amount of time, energy and other resources required to make a product as refined as Google street view is enormous. Can Apple do it? It probably comes down to leadership. Steve probably could have done it. I wonder if the current leadership can.

>you've got street view like imagery for every major city on the planet in 10 days.

It took Google years to get Street View right, with massive amount of engineering talent and financial capital committed along the way.

12 months would be extremely challenging even for Apple. As for 10 days... well let's just say I'd be a bit unhappy, if ChuckMcM was my program manager :p

You overlook a couple of things, first is that Streetview has already been 'done' so there are a number of things which are more straight forward (do you recall how quickly Microsoft duplicated it relative to Google's effort?) and the second is that yes doing it in a year would be extreme.

That said, if you had been unemployed for over a year and I said, I've got a really simple job for you that will last at least a year, you drive this car up and down every street in the town at the legal limit. I'll pay you $400/week with benefits. Probably pretty appealing to you.

> Lets do some basic math. Lets say you pay a driver $10/hr to drive 8 hrs a day at an average speed of 35mph in the city. That is about 250 miles covered per driver, per day and $80. So you do that for 10 days and that is 2,500 miles for $800.

Don't forget fuel charges! ~$40 per day (at 3 USD per gallon for a car that gives 20 miles per gallon).

I think it'd be far quicker & cheaper to license street view data from Google, even if they start collecting their own in the background.

Google have spent many years perfecting the collection & analysis of the data, Maps needs fixing yesterday.

It will take considerable coordination to direct 10.000 drivers across the country or globe. Not sure if you can pull this off in a year, maybe it takes a year just to get a 1000 drivers on the road?

Your "basic math" fails on many levels.

1) "an average speed of 35mph in the city" is not going to happen. In Manhattan that's 15 MPH. In midtown Manhattan it's 1.7 MPH. So 10 MPH on average would be more realistic.

2) You forgot gas

3) You forgot tickets

4) You forgot car insurance

5) You forgot car maintenance

6) You forgot car accidents and the cost of replacement

7) You forgot tolls

8) You forgot lawsuit costs

9) You forgot parking costs (and time to drive from and to parking)

10) You forgot the costs of the hiring process (try hiring 10 drivers in 10 days)

11) You forgot the cost of routing of all these cars (you have to organize 10,000 cars somehow)

12) Your guess of $40,000/car for design, approval, production of a specialized car is way off.

13) You forgot server costs (stitching the images)

14) You forgot storage costs (storing, transferring) millions of photos.

15) You forgot IT and management costs to support all this shit. $8M will buy you a few executives in charge of this project.

16) Your estimate of $10/hr for the driver salary is way off (assuming it's just a driver, and not a trained technician). Average salary of a cab drive in NYC is $25/hr. Chicago - $17/hr. Los Angeles - $17.5/hr. That's not counting the benefits - health insurance, social security, etc.

Heh, part of the goal of 'simplfying' is so that you can reason about things. Most people don't really conceptualize what it means to have 100 billion dollars of 'cash on hand'.

We can make the numbers more accurate. Hell if Tim Cook hired me and gave me the budget for it we could knock this out in a couple of years. I'm sure there are at least half a dozen folks out there who could. The simple point remains though which is that you can solve this problem with money, and you can make the solution time arbitrarily short by scaling the money.

Apple could solve this problem with money by licensing Google's existing service. Actually building a competing service can't be solved with money alone. Just think of the number of people involved.

FWIW a street view 'type' car (differential GPS, 360 view camera, drive train encoding, wide band celluar/wifi scanner, and 100 TB of on board storage is significantly less than $40,000 these days. It is easier if you're just pulling ground data (no need to optically stabilize the cameras).

Yes, you listed (some of) the components. Building a working scalable system is something else though.

Oooh, wanna test me? Went through a pretty deep dive on the streetview stuff when I was working where you are but I'd be willing to bet you I could build you a 3rd gen car that would out perform the current ones for a lot less than $40K. I'd get dibs on Rod though, that man is hecka talented with a CNC mill.

Sure, Google, couldn't figure out how to make it cheaper than $100K per vehicle, but ChuckMcM on the internets sure can do it for "a lot less than $40K".

Maps are very iterative. As someone in charge of mapping the 400 or so artists in Somerville Ma, I can say the first couple years we tried google maps, it was decent, yet imperfect. It gets better every year, but there were still some addresses that it put in the wrong place up to last year when it finally got the addresses right.

Getting good maps takes a lot of time, it will take years for Apple and they might never be as good as google at it. But competition is good for all as it raises the bar. It seems to have some interesting feature like telling you if a restaurant is open graphically.


Amazing how we've become so dependent on mobile maps.

There's verb in Korea.

Fix the cowshed after loosing cows.

There's an English idiom too: to "close the gate after the horse has bolted".

Is it 망우보뢰(亡牛補牢)?

It's actually Chinese (亡羊补牢 from 戰國策).

The translation is almost same, however, the meaning is quite different.

Chinese 망양보뢰 means that it is not too late to fix the cowshed after lost. Korean, however, shows the useless of the fixing activity. Later connotes the regret.


That's an interesting find. Confirmed. 소 잃고 외양간 고친다

source: http://www.ntnu.edu.tw/tcsl/yuyanwenhua/96/downloads/languag...

羊 is for sheep.


Too little, too late - they don't need 6 developers working for 6 months to improve their map code; they need 600 mappers/data entry guys/data-gathering car drivers for a few years to improve their map data instead.

It's not the client application that's the root cause of this, it's poor data. It will take more than 6 iOS developers to fix that.

Well according to TomTom the data is solid, and its the client thats the problem.

"TomTom's Lea Armstrong says users' experience is determined by the map it supplies and features added by handset makers and third-party software providers based on "their own vision and needs." In other words, don't blame us."


You and anyone else can cross-check the data at http://routes.tomtom.com/

Not where I live in Arizona—many roads missing or incorrect.

Good to see they are working on it.

sorry about the multiple posts. I did this on an app and it apparently failed miserably.

Speaking as a GIS analyst it looks like a large part of their problems are bad cartography followed by incorrect assumptions or spotty analysis of their vendor's data. I don't see how hiring more programmers will fix those issues.

they should hire someone to fix that form.

Jokes aside, they will need some CSI quality, image enhancement wizardy at the moment. For what it's worth, I wish that they pull it off sooner than later.

Google the Merciful should just send over a few maps people and help them out. What fun is a "thermonuclear war"[1] when it's so one-sided?

1. As declared by Our Man Jobs.

With a little luck some developers from the Nokia maps team come on board and show Apple how a real maps application is supposed to work.

Not surprised. If there is one feedback so far about the new iOS6, its that it needs work.

Unfortunately, adding more developers has the potential to make the situation worse, not better--especially if six positions are being added simultaneously.

Maybe they got fired and these are the replacements.

Well iOS 6 on the whole is pretty decent. It's maps that is a true train-wreck. That being said, it's not suprising that launching a brand new map service is going to be worse than the established one that's had years of feedback and growing pains of its own. Also, this was really the only way for Apple to get that type of feedback, so the actual decision to do so isn't surprising. That doesn't mean I don't want my damn google maps back though.

Yeah but "brand new map service" can't be an excuse to drive people in the river or make them fall of the bridge. The product they've launched can at best be called an alpha (not even a beta product) which was a foolish decision by the decision makers IMHO.

I'm not even going to upgrade since I use maps all the damn time.

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