The new Apple Maps app in iOS6 replaces the previous mapping provided via Google. If you depend on good mapping, clear satellite imaging and Google street view on an iPhone I recommend that you avoid iOS6 for quite a while. Apple clearly have much work to do on their maps app before it even matches Google’s offering.
Here’s a satellite view of where I live, which brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘cloud based mapping’, though for an overview of other significant failings see Apple’s Maps App: Just How Bad Is It? or head over to the hilarious The Amazing iOS6 maps which is becoming an ever growing blog of mapping blunders.
The problem is less to do with the engineering, how the maps function and respond, which is not bad for starters. The big issue is the content. Whole towns are missing, satellite images or resolution are shockingly poor and many locations of everything from petrol stations to airports are completely wrong. Apple is recruiting for another 17 mapping engineers, but the real issue is the acquisition and processing of data, something in which Google has an overwhelming advantage. This is not something that Apple can fix in a week or so – a year or so, maybe. Any attempt at the classic Apple reality-distortion-field of publicity and great PR will be overwhelmed by the reality-distortion of the maps themselves.
There’s a rumour that Google will soon release their own maps app for iOS, if Apple will let them. If the Apple support communities are anything to go by, it can’t come a moment too soon.