Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Sep 2012 19:24 UTC
Apple "The major new feature of the company's new iOS 6 mobile operating system is a new mapping module developed by Apple itself - a replacement for the Google-supplied maps that have been standard on the iPhone since it debuted in 2007. It is a change borne not of user demand, but of corporate politics: Google's Android platform is the biggest competitive threat to the iPhone, so Apple is cutting ties with Google. iPhone owners might have loved Google Maps, but Apple has no love for Google. Unfortunately, Apple's new maps are simply not as good as Google's." That's putting it mildly - my own town barely even exists on Apple's maps. It's basically a trainwreck, and according to The Verge, Apple has been working on this for the past five years. This is what happens when a company cares more about stupid grudges than its customers. Considering how much effort it has taken Google to get where it is now with maps, don't expect Apple's maps to even get near Google Maps any times soon. This isn't going to take months - this is going to take several years, if at all.
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RE[3]: My, my...
by flypig on Sat 22nd Sep 2012 09:05 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: My, my..."
flypig
Member since:
2005-07-13

A mapping service database has just too much inertia to be fixed in a single year with Apple's usual closed and secretive development practices. No matter how much engineers they put on it, they won't manage.


There are actually quite a few different mapping databases that Apple could use other than TomTom's and Google's that they've used so far. I'd have thought they could switch to one of the other ones if users feel the current data isn't up to scratch.

It's not impossible to imagine they'd move back to Google's database either. They don't seem to have any intrinsic issue using services from other companies that directly compete (e.g. Samsung).

Finally, they've already acquired companies to provide data for their maps (e.g. C3 technologies) and no doubt have enough money to collect their own data.

I'm not saying any of this will actually happen, but if the core technology of their mapping application is good, then I've no doubt Apple has avenues for fixing the data.

[Edited to fix typo.]

Edited 2012-09-22 09:06 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: My, my...
by Neolander on Sun 23rd Sep 2012 08:41 in reply to "RE[3]: My, my..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

There are actually quite a few different mapping databases that Apple could use other than TomTom's and Google's that they've used so far. I'd have thought they could switch to one of the other ones if users feel the current data isn't up to scratch.

Now, I have to put a big red "your mileage may vary" warning here, but in my experience, mapping is one of those things that few companies manage to get right, probably because of how much the underlying infrastructure costs and how large of a user base it takes to fix issues.

As an example, here in France, if you don't like GMaps, the main competitor is Mappy, based on GeoSignal and TeleAtlas. While the website itself has become relatively decent lately, the maps still have some serious coverage problems as soon as you leave the big countries and cities. Even within them, it will have a hard time doing things like locating a building on a long street.

For a comparison, here's the place where my grandmother lives as seen by Mappy and GMaps respectively

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/266/lucaymappy.png/
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/109/lucaygmaps.png/

And for a more extreme example, let's leave France for a while and look at the west side of Yaounde, Cameroon, Africa

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/195/yaoundemappy.png/
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/210/yaoundegmaps.png/

(notice how both services have some issues with basic geographic features like rivers)

Perhaps Apple could try to aggregate multiple minor maps providers, though. But finding out which is right anytime there is a conflict will probably still be an awful lot of work, not to mention the difficulties of making multiple incompatible databases cohabitate with each other.

It's not impossible to imagine they'd move back to Google's database either. They don't seem to have any intrinsic issue using services from other companies that directly compete (e.g. Samsung).

Even when it comes to going back to them after having done their own thing ? The only example which I can think of in Apple's history is the switch to Intel and EFI-based firmwares on their desktop and laptop offerings.

Finally, they've already acquired companies to provide data for their maps (e.g. C3 technologies) and no doubt have enough money to collect their own data.

Well, if a company can compete head-on on this front with Google, it's certainly a giant with huge piles of money like Apple or Microsoft. Still, throwing money at big projects is not always sufficient to make them as successful as competition, as Bing shows in the realm of web search. Perhaps this is one area where Apple forcing users to use their own maps makes sense.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: My, my...
by flypig on Sun 23rd Sep 2012 11:11 in reply to "RE[4]: My, my..."
flypig Member since:
2005-07-13

Now, I have to put a big red "your mileage may vary" warning here, but in my experience, mapping is one of those things that few companies manage to get right, probably because of how much the underlying infrastructure costs and how large of a user base it takes to fix issues.


I'm sure you're right. I honestly can't claim to know much about the details of negotiating contracts for worldwide maps, but I have no doubt it's difficult to get right.

You provide some convincing examples though, and it does surprise me how much variation there is between coverage in the maps you show.

Perhaps Apple could try to aggregate multiple minor maps providers, though. But finding out which is right anytime there is a conflict will probably still be an awful lot of work, not to mention the difficulties of making multiple incompatible databases cohabitate with each other.


They could do this, or they could use a single database from a single major provider. Again, I don't know the technical details, but I wouldn't expect it makes sense to use multiple providers for different features in the same country.

Using different providers in different countries might make sense (e.g. Ordinance Survey in the UK). Some of Apple's mapping woes look like they stem from using multiple data sources to me:

http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/post/32047865150/apple-didnt-l...

http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/post/32050776826/evidently-kev...

Maybe different service providers were cheaper for different kinds of data? If so, I expect Apple could fix this by spending more money (which they have). Surely TomTom don't have these problems on their car SatNavs, do they?

"It's not impossible to imagine they'd move back to Google's database either.

Even when it comes to going back to them after having done their own thing ? The only example which I can think of in Apple's history is the switch to Intel and EFI-based firmwares on their desktop and laptop offerings.
"

I'm afraid I honestly don't know enough about Apple's history to give examples, but you could well be right. I guess they did it with Microsoft (Internet Explorer), Java (sort of) and Steve Jobs!

I agree it would seem like an odd move though. An admission of defeat.

Well, if a company can compete head-on on this front with Google, it's certainly a giant with huge piles of money like Apple or Microsoft. Still, throwing money at big projects is not always sufficient to make them as successful as competition, as Bing shows in the realm of web search. Perhaps this is one area where Apple forcing users to use their own maps makes sense.


I'd agree, it's not just a question of money. But Google managed it of course, and so did Nokia.

It makes sense for people to be angry about the current situation. Apple have released an update that removes functionality. However, I'd be surprised if Apple can't fix this (it's not like a hardware problem). If they don't, it exposes the lie that they value good products more than money. If they do, it will be forgotten about by most people very quickly.

Sorry for the long post.

Reply Parent Score: 2