An Opinion On Apple’s New Maps App

There are two sides to every story and this opinion is no different. Having spent some time using the developer preview and final releases of Apple’s new Maps app, the replacement for Google apps, it is perhaps easy to come to one of two conclusions. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that the new Maps app is pretty inferior to its predecessor, with less detail and some glossy features, like city fly over, that aren’t much use unless accompanied by Superman-like functionality, or a helicopter. In addition, some of the 3G mapping that Apple has incorporated also looks pretty awful at the moment, and some locations are just missing altogether.

That said, the alternative opinion is that Apple seems to manage to make seemingly innocuous functionality come alive with their touch. By including turn by turn directions in the new app, the company has included a pretty nifty feature that most people will love. In addition, the smooth animations, more responsive feel and anecdotally faster load times can offer a completely different experience from Google Maps.

It’s easy to dismiss the new Maps app, but it should be remembered that it is still in its infancy and that Google has had a hell of lot longer to perfect their Maps application. This is Apple’s first stab and, like all early releases, has areas that need dramatic improvement. Rather than labeling Apple Maps the new Ping, its probably a good idea to wait for a couple of updates and improvements.

Google is probably going to release a Maps app for iOS anyway, so any detractors will likely be perfectly happy in a few months anyway.

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  • Joan Respondi

    The map app’s UI is really slick. Very functional…so easy to use. In contrast Google’s map app is clunky. And I’ve had no map problems. I am in AZ.

  • Prof. Peabody

    I think it’s easy to see that they’ve “laid a good foundation” as they say and that eventually, Apple’s approach will lead to a far superior experience than Google maps will ever have. However … the current product really is sub par and laughably so.

    Everyone is having fun pointing out that the data sucks and Apple is countering with “we are fixing it as fast as we can,” but the fact is, the poor data isn’t the real problem. The app itself is just sloppily done and just not as good as the old one in several respects.

    Beginning with the icon with the wrong directions on it (a flaw of the type Mr. Jobs was famous for noticing and not tolerating), moving through the fact that the app is completely over-focussed on cars (it gives walking directions as if you are in a car too), the complete lack of transit information (in many countries over 60% of the population uses transit and not cars as in the USA), and ending with the atrocious satellite imagery from the 1970’s. This app is just bad. The really sad thing though and the thing that most disturbs me is that no one seems to have even noticed before it was released. That says more to me about how Apple is functioning today than anything else.

    What I find truly astounding is that people at Apple had this map data for the last two years minimum, and no one thought to swap out all those horrible satellite images. It’s almost the first rule of art/design that if you don’t have a good picture, then no picture at all is preferable. Why would anyone leave in a black and white blurry shot of a bank of clouds when you could just as easily have left it out and just said “satellite imagery not available here.” It’s these bad choices, made by the Maps app team that worry me more than anything.

  • lucascott

    Detractors can go to mobile safari for their google maps or one of the dozens of other map apps already in the app store.

    And if anyone buys the iPhone just for maps or is thinking about getting the iPhone just for maps, they should just return it now. Buying something that expensive for one feature, especially a brand new one, is just dumb

  • srminton

    this is a marketing disaster, though…..I agree that the maps will improve over time, and for anyone buying the new iPhone they will improve before they get to thinking about replacing it, but they will surely lose some new customers who are currently on the fence re: buying their next phone – especially in the UK, where the maps are embarrassing at times…..