Apple's Maps Are A Disaster Waiting To Happen

Apple Maps Scott ForstallApple’s iOS leader Scott Forstall demos the Apple Maps

Photo: AP

When Apple introduced the iPhone 5, the feature that made people the most upset was its decision to change the phone’s cable.That’s nothing, however, compared to what’s really going to annoy people about the iPhone 5.

In iOS 6, the newest version of the iPhone’s software, Apple is going to remove its Google-based map application in favour of Apple Maps, its own homegrown maps application based on data from two dozen other sources.

Oh, and the loss of Google Maps will affect anyone upgrading to the new software, not just iPhone 5 users.

There are plenty of signs pointing to Apple’s Maps not being as good as Google’s Maps.

Noam Bardin, the CEO of mapping startup Waze, tells us, “Apple went out and partnered with the weakest player.” Apple is leaning on TomTom for its primary mapping data.

Bardin added, “What’s going to happen with the Apple maps, is that you’re literally not going to find things. When you do find them, they might be in the wrong place or position geographically. And if you do have it, the route to it may not be the optimal route.”

This isn’t just some random startup spitting out sour grapes about Apple doing maps. Waze was listed as an Apple data partner for Apple Maps, in the initial releases of iOS 6.

In addition to bad data, the back end of Apple’s maps is changing, which could cause confusion.

Yesterday, Josh Carr, who runs an Apple repair shop, said that searching in Apple Maps is much worse than searching the current version of Apple’s Google-based maps. The Google-based maps work with Google search keywords. Apple’s new maps work with Yelp keywords, which makes search worse.

For instance, if you type in “iPad repair,” you get no results at all in Apple’s maps.

Says Carr, “Maps didn’t know what to do with it because it’s not an address, business name, or Yelp category. My brain hurts just trying to grasp the stupidity.”

Apple was forced to switch to is own homegrown map application because Google wouldn’t let Apple do certain things with its maps data, according to a former Google employee we spoke with earlier this year.

Further, Apple wants to be able to create a unique iOS-only mapping application that makes people ditch Android for Apple products. It’s possible Apple pulls off this feat and makes a kick-butt mapping application.

For now, though, it looks like Apple’s first attempt at its own maps could cause major headaches for users.

Whenever there is change, no matter how small, people complain. Just look at how upset people are over the iPhone 5 connector.

While that issue looked like it was going to be the front-runner for what annoys people the most about the iPhone 5, we think Apple’s maps are going to quickly make people forget about the cables. It’s a much bigger part of the phone. It’s integral to how people use smartphones.

If most consumers agree that Apple screwed up its maps, they’ll howl with rage.

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