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September 20th, 2012

Apple Maps

Most people have now heard of the changes in the latest Apple iOS: the Maps app uses a home-baked provider, and no longer relies on Google.

My experience has been mixed. My iPhone 4 and iPad 1 do not support many of the latest features (my iPad can’t even get iOS 6 SO IT IS SO WORTHLESS NOW OMG), but the phone at least has the new maps. And in general they’re not bad. Visually, they’re just way more pleasant. Google Maps are aesthetically ugly by comparison. The new, minimal interface around the map is also pretty nifty.

But!

There are clearly a lot of problems, some big and some small. Flyover, for instance, is kind of cool but I question its usefulness; Google Street View has genuine, proven utility. Since my phone doesn’t support Flyover, I have no native app way to see what a particular address or building looks like. Oops.

Directions? Not bad, but I haven’t personally seen traffic be taken into account. A coworker and I looked at travel times from our building in the suburbs to both Wrigley Field and US Cellular Field, and Maps showed about 1 hour at 4pm on a Thursday, no matter which route was taken. Clearly not accurate yet; this is easily a 90-100 minute trip at that time of day.

The big thing that the Maps rollout unveiled is just how much time and effort went into Google Maps. It was something that lots and lots of people, including me, took for granted. But only a few people are in this business: Nokia/Microsoft, MapQuest, Google, and now Apple. The other three have years and years of experience up on Apple and it shows. Things may turn around, but it may also take some time.

Posted in Technology

Maria September 21, 2012, 1:23 pm

I have to say I really haven’t checked out the new Maps app yet. I upgraded my iPhone 4S to iOS 6 two days ago and it was such a complete 6-hour nightmare for some reason, that I have not explored many of the new features.

Dave Walls September 27, 2012, 11:34 am

Yes, there are some errors (try searching for the Hoover Dam, and take a look at US 93 in “satellite” mode. Oy.). That said, I’ve test driven it a few times, and it has worked flawlessly. The seamless integration of navigation into Siri has been nice, too.

While driving (hands-free, thank you), I asked Siri to find a good lunch spot near my new job. It brought up several selections, from which I could choose and go directly to navigation with. The step by step voice nav has worked better than it did when I had my Android, and the interface is just a lot cleaner looking.

Lots of work still needs to be done, for sure. That said, it’s a promising start.

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