When Apple demoed its new in-house, iOS 6 Maps app at WWDC in June, replacing the Google Maps backend used in previous versions of iOS, first impressions from many users raised concerns over whether it could compete with the old Google Maps iOS app they were used to. Apple has been steadily improving the Maps app with each beta release, including recently expanding coverage of 3D maps to new cities, but its limitations could be a source of frustration for upgrading iPhone owners in the coming weeks.
Macworld’s Jason Snell raised some alarm bells this week at the post-iPhone 5 roundtable (11:00 in), saying Maps did not feel ready and he was concerned that long-time Maps users would be disappointed. We received lots of comments and forum posts from users who refuse to update until transit times were included.
The move was not surprisingly viewed as a strategic one for Apple, and fueled by powerful technologies from Placebase, C3 Technologies, and Poly9 acquisitions, but will Apple be able to smooth iOS 6 Maps app enough to keep users happy when they update to iOS 6 and make the transition from Google Maps later this month?
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Many websites posted comparisons to show shortcomings of the iOS 6 Maps app compared to Google Maps. Despite Apple steadily making improvements to its app, we might not have access to a third-party Google Maps app on iOS 6 immediately at launch. Google hinted that it looks forward to bringing an amazing Google Maps experience to iOS, but we do not have any official word if it is even in the works with the public roll out of iOS 6 set for tomorrow.
Even if Google Maps is eventually made or approved as a stand-alone app, it will not have Siri access as the built-in app has, which only further complicates the experience. Jay Yarrow at BI breaks it down some more:
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.”
Will users be annoyed when their new iPhone 5 Maps app does not perform as well or the same as previous-generation iPhones with Google Maps, especially when it does not locate points of interest or display imagery the same or as accurately as their iPhone did before upgrading? Apple is certainly not slowing down in trying to beef up its Maps app, with recent reports claiming it is closing deals with partners to improve geosearch and Scott Forstall hinting at improvements to turn-by-turn for at least Australia.