While Apple's new iPhone 5, and many of the features in the new iOS 6, are getting raves, one key app is not. Apple's Maps, which replaced Google Maps in the new smartphone, is getting some thumbs-down.
Apple said it replaced the popular Google app because Google had been updating the Android version of Maps, but not the iOS one. For instance, the iPhone version didn't have turn-by-turn directions or vector-based images, both of which are present on Android.
Siri, Public Transit
The new Apple Maps also benefits from Siri, the intelligent voice agent on the iPhone. With iOS 6, for instance, a user can voice-command Siri, the intelligent voice agent, to provide directions somewhere, and Siri will boot up the app and show the desired navigational information. There has also been favorable feedback about the typically Apple simple screen design and interactivity, its integration with Yelp, and its local search.
But many complaints are being voiced around the Web about Apple's replacement mapping app. As a complex service, involving GPS, live traffic data, continually updated databases of roads and addresses, visual information, and user interaction, a new mapping app could take some time for all the wrinkles to shake out.
The Maps app requires some of its aspects to be filled in by third party developers, such as public transit directions, as there simply is no public transportation component currently for car, bus or pedestrian routes. Clicking on the public transit icon leads the user to the App Store to pay for an app covering public transportation. Google Maps offers public transportation information built-in.
There are complaints that directions cannot be edited, so that, for instance, someone might get directions to a destination and, on the way there, decide to change transportation types midway by getting out of a car to walk. Apple Maps doesn't let users modify the directions mid-way; you have to start over.
Missing or outdated information about this big world is another issue. One blogger calculated that, compared with Google Maps, street view in Apple's Maps has been removed from 41 countries, traffic information from 24 countries, and transit information from 51 countries.
Some users have also noted that, side by side with Google Maps, there's less of such kinds of details as small towns on map images or a complete listing of, say, all nearby Target stores. One blogger in the U.K. found that, for The Birmingham Bullring, one of that county's largest shopping centers, only the Apple Store was shown on Apple Maps. A graphic depiction of freeways in Oakland, Calif., shows some parts of the roads going vertically, and the location of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., is misidentified.
Search functions in the app are also being criticized, in that even large search targets -- say, Canada -- are ending up with "no results found" until Wi-Fi was turned off, for some unknown reason.
Apple's flyover imaging 3D views is getting praise for its visual quality, but not for its practicality. Users are comparing it to Google's Street View, which they say was more useful for actually figuring out which building is which when you're moving along a street, trying to locate a particular address.