iPhone and iPad owners who installed iOS 6 this week found out just how early in the process of creating its Maps app Apple really is. Users of Apple Maps have discovered missing streets, mislabeled streets, mislabeled points of interest--heck, even missing towns. The level of detail available in Apple Maps simply doesn't come close to matching the no-longer-available Google Maps App.
Apple has taken the criticism on the chin and was uncharacteristically quick to own up to the poor performance of the software.
"Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service," the company said in a statement supplied to both AllThingsD and The Verge. In fact, reports surfaced that the update of iOS 6 has far surpassed that of previous releases of iOS. One firm calculated that approximately 15% of all iOS devices upgraded to the new version within the first 24 hours. That compares to iOS 5's release, which saw 20% adoption in the first five days.
[ They're here, but does anyone care? See Nokia Windows Phone 8 Devices Arrive With Thud. ]
"We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover and Siri integration, and free turn by turn navigation," Apple continued. "We launched this new map service knowing that it is a major initiative and we are just getting started with it. We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get."
It had better improve quickly. Google Maps on the iPhone was an excellent piece of software that was reliable and worked well. It offered features such as Street View, and even the ability to peer inside businesses. Google Maps was an integral part of the iPhone and iOS. Removing it seriously damages iOS 6 devices' usefulness as a navigation tool.
One of the many things missing from Apple Maps is mass transit information. Apple says it is working on that. "We're also working with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps in the App Store into iOS Maps. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better."
There's no denying that Apple missed the mark big time with Apple Maps. Apple's competitors have taken the opportunity to kick it in the shins. Nokia, for instance, posted a blog entry discussing Nokia Maps and Apple Maps and was clearly smug about which is the better of the two.
"Unlike our competitors, which are financing their location assets with advertising or licensing mapping content from third parties, we completely own, build and distribute mapping content, platform and apps," said Nokia. It's important to remember here that Nokia purchased Navteq in 2008 for billions of dollars. It has used Navteq's mapping data to bolster its own mapping powers, which it has taken to an entirely new level with its Windows Phone devices.
Nokia offers not one, but many mapping and navigation applications that can be used online and offline to provide driving, walking, and mass transit directions, as well as real-time traffic and mass transit reports. It's a powerful collection of software that is proven in the marketplace.
"We believe that the best user experience comes indeed from precise data, robust processing of core platform functionalities like routing, geocoding and traffic, and by user friendly apps. All this cannot be built overnight," the company said.
Nokia published an infographic with tons of data comparing its mapping product to Google Maps on the Galaxy S III and Apple Maps on the iPhone. You can view the infographic here to see how the mapping systems compare.
Apple has a lot of catching up to do with Apple Maps. Let's hope it doesn't take the short-cut this time.
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