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[5]: My, my...
by flypig on Sun 23rd Sep 2012 11:11 UTC 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

RE[6]: My, my...
by Neolander on Sun 23rd Sep 2012 12:07 in reply to "RE[5]: My, my..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

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.

If you have family on the countryside or in lesser-known countries, you can try it too ! I find it to be a good benchmark for mapping services, as these parts of the world are generally taken care of last and in a fashion where flaws are more apparent than in big cities...

One does indeed have to wonder what kind of technical or political problems prevent digital mapping services from buying a license on the data used by paper road maps and digitalizing it. As unreadable as these can get, they do tend to have impressive coverage of even the smallest trail in the woods, and I can't think of stuff in them that would confuse image analysis algorithms.

"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...

I have recently learned that Apple do indeed already use data from multiple providers. It is, however, unclear how they do it.

On a review of iOS 6 at http://www.anandtech.com/show/6302/apple-ios-6-review-maps-investig... , the editor has found out in the Acknowledgement part of the soft that Apple use data from TomTom, Acxiom, AND, CoreLogic, DigitalGlobe, DMTI, Intermap, Urban Mapping, Waze, Yelp, Flickr, NASA, OpenStreetMap, US Census, US Geological Survey, and the US National Mapping Agency. At least in the US.

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?

I wouldn't know, having never used one of these...

"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.

As far as I know, Apple did not have a web browser ready when they started to bundle IE with Mac OS, and they have not released something that directly competes with Java either. You may be right about Steve, though ! ;)

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

While Nokia Maps is a very nice piece of software, its database (as probed using maps.nokia.com ) seems not to be so impressive on the countryside.

I just tested the two locations mentioned above on it, and it seems to perform as good as Mappy in rural France, while Yaounde, on its side, is just represented as a large crossroads. Which is a bit weak for a capital city to say the list.

( Nokia's map of Yaoundé : http://maps.nokia.com/3.8692661,11.5355997,14,0,0,normal.day
Google's version : https://maps.google.fr/maps?q=Yaound%C3%A9,+Centre,+Cameroun... )

Sorry for the long post.

No issue, I have this tendency to write small novels in this comment section myself...

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[7]: My, my...
by flypig on Sun 23rd Sep 2012 14:20 in reply to "RE[6]: My, my..."
flypig Member since:
2005-07-13

One does indeed have to wonder what kind of technical or political problems prevent digital mapping services from buying a license on the data used by paper road maps and digitalizing it.

While doing a search I noticed a number of research papers and patents about automatically generating data from satellite imagery. I don't know to what extent these technologies are used though.

I thought the following article was particularly interesting. It's about Google's project "Ground Truth" for building maps: http://tinyurl.com/cl85h5l

Interestingly, the article supports your claim that building a comparable mapping database to Google's would be a very hard task: "I came away convinced that the geographic data Google has assembled is not likely to be matched by any other company."

"Surely TomTom don't have these problems on their car SatNavs, do they?

I wouldn't know, having never used one of these...
"
That's too bad. I was hoping you might be able to enlighten me!

As far as I know, Apple did not have a web browser ready when they started to bundle IE with Mac OS

True, but they did have a previous relationship with Microsoft, which I believe was destroyed and then rebuilt for commercial reasons.

and they have not released something that directly competes with Java either.

I was under the impression the JVM on OS X used to be an Apple product?

While Nokia Maps is a very nice piece of software, its database (as probed using maps.nokia.com ) seems not to be so impressive on the countryside.

It's clear Nokia Maps are bad compared to Google for the places you gave (and no doubt many others). The difference is quite startling. However, in some places the balance is the other way:

Compare http://goo.gl/maps/xcl1Z with http://nok.it/FmcWg

Just to be clear though, I'm not suggesting NavTeq is better (or necessarily worse) than Google. But there are a lot of impressive mapping companies, ideas and datasets out there, and the mapping landscape is changing rapidly (so to speak). I'm excited to see all of the new developments that are happening in this area.

Reply Parent Score: 2