If Apple would have quietly made changes to their Maps app, when it was released as part of iOS 6 months later, it probably wouldn’t have been put under much scrutiny. But they weren’t quiet about it. They announced they were getting rid of the Google Maps app that had been part of the iOS suite since the very beginning, replacing it with a map of their own. They highlighted the flyover effect and wowed users with the clip of how great it could be.
However, once iOS 6 was released and users started using the new Maps app, they were less than enchanted with the Google replacement. It seems several things are mislabeled. Moving about my own neighborhood, I did find one street mislabeled, but it’s an access street that leads to a business, so not one that is usually counted on for directions at all. What bothered me more than that, though, was that when I try to do a closeup, it’s not a very clear image. I don’t just want directions to where I’m going, I want to know what it looks like. It looks great on the iPhone 5, just not so much on the larger screen of the iPad.
But there are several people finding more streets and points of interest that are mislabeled. It’s led to a very large dissatisfaction with not just the Maps app, but for some with iOS 6 as well. Again, had they not heralded the arrival of the app as being something really great, the errors it’s showing wouldn’t be standing out as much either.
Apple released a statement to explain the app’s faults, stating, “”We launched this new app service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it.” That’s great, but it probably would have worked out more in their favor had they told users this before the download, preventing disappointment. It stands to reason that Google has years and years of data to rely on, while Apple is just getting started collecting its data. Of course it’s not going to be as fine-tuned as Google.
Apple is also promising that the more the app is used, the better it will get. They are asking all users to report the inconsistencies that they find. They want to know these streets and business that are mislabeled, promising that it will all be fixed eventually. The Verge is reporting that some of these mislabeled streets and businesses have already been fixed, while some fix requests are still outstanding.
The question remains, however, whether that will prove to be enough of a fix to keep users happy. Was there anyone who was one-hundred percent thrilled with Google Maps? That always sported errors as well, but no one was talking about how great it was, so those errors didn’t stand out as much. With Apple’s own products, though, we’ve come to expect to be wowed, and for that, users of the Maps app seem to still be waiting.
UPDATE: Apple appears to still be working hard to not only fix the Maps app, but to also make sure the whole thing doesn’t turn into a public relations nightmare for them.
Tim Cook published a letter on the Apple site apologizing for the problems and trying to offer users a little reassurance. You have to hand it to the guy, he’s great with PR. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. He explained they wanted to offer a maps app that did more than what we were getting with the Google app, and for that they had to start from scratch.
What’s interesting about this published letter is that he encourages frustrated users to download alternate maps such as Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or to create a homescreen app from the Google or Nokia websites.
Comment below and let us know whether you think these recent actions of Cook’s will help allay users’ fears, or whether they will just drive people away.