iPhone 5 Features, Release Date: Apple Maps a Failure, Google Maps Back On Phone By End of Year, Says Report
Reviews of the new iPhone 5 have been largely positive, but there's one thing everyone seems to agree is rotten at Apple: the company's new Maps app replacing Google Maps has been almost universally reviled -- and deservedly so. Good news, though. Apple was listening. Google Maps is building a Maps app for the iPhone and iPad that will be out by the end of 2012, according to The New York Times.
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Considering Apple's reputation for innovation and revolution, the removal of Google Maps had been a unanimous head-scratcher. The delay is reportedly in part due to Google wanting to build a pretty 3-D version of its Maps for Apple users, says the report, and may consider combining the existing Google Earth app for iPhone with the new Maps app. This information comes via "people involved with the effort who declined to be named because of the nature of their work," so a small amount of skepticism should be maintained.
It seemed impossible that someone wasn't currently working on a scheme to either replace Maps or at the very least vastly improve on its many blunders.
Apple sent waves of geek panic through the tech sphere earlier this year after announcing that it was removing Google Maps from iOS 6 and replacing it with its own Maps program. After iOS 6 launched earlier last week, Apple's software was quickly criticized for a host of errors and omissions, including missing cities, duplicated islands, and a host of other bizarre complications.
"In my opinion it would have been better to retain our maps," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "It's their decision; I'll let them describe it."
A new report alleges that disagreements over Google's voice guided navigation pushed Apple away from Google Maps, and compelled it to implement its own mapping application in the iOS 6, according to Allthingsd.
Apple failed to convince and sign a deal with Google to bring the voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation to the iOS 6, according to multiple sources knowledgeable about the issue. Apple felt that it had been left behind without the voice-guided navigation because it is a free and special feature of the Google maps, which has been integrated to all smartphones powered by the Android operating system.
"Requiring iPhone users to look directly at handsets for directions and manually move through each step - while Android users enjoyed native voice-guided instructions - put Apple at a clear disadvantage in the mobile space," said Allthingsd in a report. "And having chosen Google as its original mapping partner, the iPhone maker was now in a position where an archrival was calling the shots on functionality important to the iOS maps feature set."
Reportedly, it was difficult for Google to just simply handover the special features of Google Maps to its competitor because the company invested heavily in developing the data and views of the app. Sources said Apple wanted the voice-guided turn-by-turn-directions of the Google maps integrated in the iOS 6, but wasn't willing to give in to the demands of the search engine giant.
Google wanted in-app branding, and to add its Google latitude service in the iOS mapping service, but Apple refused to accept either of the demand, according to sources. Clearly relations between the companies have become increasingly heated over the years, with both often competing for the same market share.
Apple's acquisition of several mapping companies including Poly9, C3 technologies, and Placebase gave it the confidence to develop the company's own mapping app with 3-D mode, and Apple decided to abandon Google maps a year early of the expiration of its agreement with Google.
"Apple knew it had a lot of catching up to do in maps. But, given what's happened the past few days, I think they felt they were farther along than they actually are," said a source familiar with the matter to Allthingsd.
The problems with Apple Maps
Tech site T3 quickly noted after its release that even with an aesthetically pleasing appearance, and some nice features, the functionality of Apple's Maps' search was reportedly "hit and miss in terms of finding London locations." Apparently, Apple's new app displays more road names than place names, and does away with color-coded roads, so, navigating to a specific point using pinch and zoom is much trickier.
Engadget thought the app wasn't nearly as comprehensive as Google's offerings on Android, but said the app's biggest drawback was its lack of public transportation directions, so if you haven't mastered the subway yet, you won't be getting any help from Maps.
And while asking for subway directions doesn't work particularly well, according to Engadget, the app actually does offer public transportation directions. However, if you choose that option it shoots you straight into the App Store with a search for "Routing Apps," a search that currently has zero results.
Apple Maps lacks the kind of detailed layering that you can apply in Google Maps and Google Navigation, and shows you whatever you want to see. Maps will list some important places of interest -- mostly gas stations and convenience shops -- but if you want to see all Italian restaurants on your route you'll have to dig deeper.
While Maps does show traffic, Engadget says it never saw it give a warning about traffic along a route currently being navigated.
Allthingsd said the app was a step backward from Google Maps. While Apple's maps feature a 3-D "Flyover" view of some central cities, they lack Google's very useful ground-level photographic street views. And while the site thought Apple's maps were accurate, they reportedly tend to default to a more zoomed-in view than Google's, making them look emptier until you zoom out.
Maps also reportedly lacks key details on prominent cities, and in one instance, an entire town was in the wrong location. Users also found duplicate islands and other quirks.
Even Google Maps designer Fred Gilbert who worked with Apple on the original Google Maps app for the first iPhone voiced his incredible disappointment with Apple Maps over Google+, saying "as one of the original designers of Google Mobile Maps I remember how difficult it was working with Apple. But this just blows my mind," according to seroundtable.com.