To iOS 6 Maps Haters: Settle Down, Beavis

There’ve been a lot of hate posts recently on the new built-in Apple Maps app released with iOS 6. Many good points have been made about the inaccuracy of Maps and Apple’s lack of infrastructure, compared to Google.

In this post, I want to focus on why the Maps app is nothing short of awesome and why many of the negative points are not such a big deal.

First, the awesome: integration.

Apple has integrated the Maps experience into every facet of the iPhone user experience. From Siri, to the lock screen, to the status bar, to notifications in other apps, Maps is active when you are getting directions from point A to point B. The status bar behaves much the same as when you are in a call: you can touch the bar at the top of the screen, from wherever you are, to return to Maps.

I said to Siri, “Give me directions to the 92nd Street Y” into my bluetooth headset while driving. Once I confirmed with Siri that I wanted the directions, Maps took over. Since my iPhone was connected to my car’s stereo system (as I was listening to the latest episode of Marc Maron’s WTFPod), I began to hear the turn-by-turn directions loud and clear.

Maps dutifully lowered the volume of the podcast when it needed to tell me to take some action on my route.

Here are some other integration screenshots:

Lock screen with Maps app actively animating your trip along with the usual sound controls overlaid on top:

In the Maps app:

Active status bar in the WTF App:

Informational notification in the WTF App:

Second: WTF, haters?

Google has had turn-by-turn directions in the Maps app on Android for many releases now. By comparison, the Google Maps app on iPhone had been seriously hobbled. It did not have turn-by-turn nor many of the other features of a fully functioning GPS app, like automatically moving the directions along as you moved through them.

Google had a vested interest in keeping its app lame for iOS: keep attracting more people to the Android platform. I certainly don’t begrudge them that. However, under these conditions, why wouldn’t Apple want to provide its users with a better Maps experience?

Many of the points that people have made about the failings of the Apple Maps app are very valid. The most important of these is the infrastructure for supporting Maps at Apple. Maps is part of Google’s DNA. I was using a Google mobile maps application from a GPS enabled windows phone in 2007. Google has dedicated massive resources toward Maps, including the cars that drive around taking new street level pictures. Maps is not just for mobile for Google.

All of these points expose weaknesses in Apple’s approach to maps. But, what company on the planet is more equipped to address these issues? Whether they build or buy, I believe Apple will fix the failings of the Maps app.

My final point is a subjective one. The Apple Maps app far outweighs the Google Maps app for iPhone from the user experience perspective. The scrolling is smoothy smooth. The turn-by-turn voice is clear and understandable. The visual direction cues are clear and concise.

Haters gonna hate, but I am truly surprised at the vehemence of the objections by Apple users. Anyone remember how god awful the first release of Android was? Remember how the first release of the iPhone didn’t even have an app store? The Apple Maps app is a first release and it shows in some ways. In other ways, in true Apple style, it changes the game of mobile Maps apps. Integration with Siri so that you can get end-to-end directions without touching your phone is just one example.



9 Responses to “ “To iOS 6 Maps Haters: Settle Down, Beavis”

  1. LOL!!!!! says:

    LOL!!!!!

    This post makes me laugh. Apple has always presented themselves as being the best. And Apple fans have never settled down on how superior they have felt. If you ask me, this is a great reality check for Apple. Looks like Apple is starting to rot!!!!!

    • Micah says:

      Anonymous comment aside, the vitriol of your response and others like it is baffling to me. The user experience of the iPhone hardware and software – how natural and intuitive it has always felt – is what has made it so popular. Maps is no different in this regard.

      Its failing, while significant, is 100% on the data side of things and can (and most likely will) be addressed. Counterintuitively (maybe), in order to fix the data side of things, Apple will need more person-power, not more automation.

      • LOL!!!!! says:

        Sorry to baffle you. I have had the same user experience with all the Android phones I’ve had. And even more so when I buy the Galaxy S3. It’s the presumption by many that only the iPhone is natural and intuitive that “baffles” me. These “vitriol” responses go both ways.

        And you make it sound like because the problem is on the data side, it’s not Apple’s fault! Ridiculous. Of course they’ll fix it, but just the fact that they put something out that is so below the Apple standard ALSO “baffles” me!

        • Davide says:

          I completely agree with the anonymous poster, and honestly I don’t see all that “vitriol”. C’mon, it’s simply someone that disagree with you LOL.

          I’ve been an iPhone owner for years and I’m still a very happy Apple computer user (I’ve 3 Macs at home); nonetheless, I’m first and foremost an intelligent human being and I’m perfectly keen on criticising what I perceive as a bad business choice when I see one. And Apple failed, failed heavily IMHO.

          I’m sorry to see that after Steve Jobs Apple stopped inventing and started simply ‘following’ the market trends (shall we talk about the 7″ tablet ?). Iphone 5, today, is still pretty much the same toy that we saw years ago, when the first iPhone came into this world. there has been NO innovation in the phone since then; the interface is EXACTLY the same one of the very first iPhone (and please, don’t try to sell to the normal/non-geek user concepts like “retina” display.. it can be cool but it doesn’t change the user experience a bit, IMHO).

          Coming out now with such a crappy mapping application is a BIG fail (let’s not even talk about the disappearance of the YouTube App). ALL (and I repeat ALL) of my colleagues using iPhone are heavily blaming that move and coming up with ways of using GMaps from the browser (even though it’s a very limiting and frustrating experience). Apple pissed of a large slice of its user base, and that is a fact. There’s a reason for that, of course, and it’s a business reason (the end of the license agreement between Apple and Google) but, again, this is a business reason that has no meaning for the end user and, again, it proves that Apple moved its core business from the ‘users’ to the ‘business’ side of things..

    • peter says:

      lol, you’re mocking the fact that a for-profit company would present themselves as “the best?” Yeah, how dare they, right?

      Settle down, Beavis.

      - By the way, one exclamation is more then enough to get your point across.

  2. p0ps says:

    For my, it is the lack of complete transit routing in my area that causes me pain. Google Maps have it, Apple Maps don’t. It is a fail for me and since I need it to have a chance of getting around in my daily life, I’m keeping one phone unupdated for now, while I prepare to switch to Android.

  3. nohorse says:

    I thing the hatefulness of the hate is directly proportional to accuracy of the maps. They work for you in your region. Many users upgraded to useless and inaccurate map data. Go visit England and trust your new maps app there and them post again.

  4. “Anyone remember how god awful the first release of Android was? Remember how the first release of the iPhone didn’t even have an app store?”

    A fair point… or at least it would be if this were the first implementation of maps on iPhone. The trouble here is that Apple ditched something that worked extremely well and replaced it with their own in-house solution that is severely broken and lacking. And that was a stupid mistake on their part. Apple’s version of maps needed to be at least as good as Google Maps, but it isn’t.

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