Saturday, September 29, 2012

IOS 6 maps - pros and cons and conclusion

Update: I'm not the only one who thinks this is overblown: DigitalTrends tends to agree

As any watching the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 news know, there is news of a huge flap about Apple maps in iOS 6.  Apple CEO Tim Cook even apologized.

This is very reminiscent of the iPhone 4 antennagate news.

Some people are having some real problems.  Some people are complaining loudly.  Competitors are trying to take advantage and even lying in the process.

So what does it all really mean?  Lots of lost iPhone sales?  Apple is doomed?  The news already reports that there are over 100 Million instances of iOS 6 in use within about a week.  People are still downloading and using iOS6, regardless.  This says to me that consumers are largely ignoring this news and doing what is right for them.  This does not mean consumers are dumb; they know more than the news reports that this is in some way not such a big deal.  Just like antennagate.

In that case, as in this one, Apple took some kind of action.  The CEO acknowledged that it was not Apple's finest hour and that Apple intends to exceed expectations and wow folks.  I like that.

I had already stopped using Google Maps in the iPhone.  I had switched to waze some time ago - I needed better traffic information, and help navigating around some bad traffic.  Thus the initial flap was meaningless to me.  I was and am hopeful that a much better product is coming.  In the mean time, I have what I mean.  Thus the news from Tim Cook matched my own expectations with regards to the fact that alternatives can meet customer needs.

I have already used iOS 6 maps and turn-by-turn directions with no problems.  So what is better and what is worse?  Macstories has one decent article.


  • Any turn by turn directions at all!
  • Siri integration
  • China - things are much better for Chinese users by all accounts.
  • Fun with flyover - a 3D rendering
  • Rendering without satellite data - this view is very nice and smooth.  This works much more smoothly.
Bad andWorse - actually worse:

  • Alternative transit help and information (like buses/trains)
  • Information about specific locations (Google has years of feedback, Apple does not)
  • Loss of street view - street view can be very helpful.
  • Flyover is sometimes very messed up.  This _should_ be more a point of amusement than a major drawback.
What will the future bring?  What can we hope for?
  • Much better transit help - iOS 6 maps allow for plug in helper apps.  This is openness that Google has shunned!  
  • Better maps all around.  Rumor has it Google SVP Jeff Huber says Google IS making a Google Maps app for iOS 6.  Google will do a better job than Apple ever would/could with making maps with its own apps, interfaces, and data.  This is also competition in this space, which should be good for users.
All-in-all - things will be good for Apple, iPhone users, Google - everyone.  

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