Since the release of the new iOS several days ago Apple has gotten quite a bit of flack for it’s poor execution of their maps app. There have been numerous reports of entire towns being out of place, graphics being poorly rendered and points of interest being out of date or simply non-existent. This, combined with the beta tag for Siri, has led to calls that Apple has dropped the ball in it’s history of near-perfect executions of producing high-quality software.
Yes. First off there are things that Apple could have done differently in regards to its promotion of Maps. They could have partnered with (or bought) Foursquare, an amazing geolocation-based social sharing startup, rather than with Yelp (a website that is not big outside of America), they could have spent more time ironing out some of the graphical bugs and they could have certainly told users that this is simply a beta product from the outset, as they did with Siri, and let them know that it gets better with age.
But, much like Apple co-found Steve Wozniak, I’m not too concerned about the Maps app. Mapping is an incredibly difficult feat to consider undertaking and it was brave of Apple to start now. The relationship with Google was tremulous to say the least and it had to end eventually. Google is the king of mapping software. But at the same time they have also spent several years and a small army to bring maps to where the are today. In fact Google are so confident that they have declared that they have a 400 year head-start over Apple Maps. I would think that if Google were smart they would reassess their lead and start to buckle down.
Apple is currently in the middle of a poaching spree and trying to bring as many people to help fix it’s maps app as soon as possible. Whilst we won’t see it turn around overnight we may see a slight improvement in coming iterations of iOS. But Apple’s biggest advantage isn’t in the individual members that it brings to work in Cupertino. Rather Apple’s advantage is in the fact that it now has more than 100 million users running iOS 6. This is huge. There are now 100 million Apple quasi-employees roaming every street in the world and using this Maps application. This means that, if prompted by Apple, these users can identify incorrect POIs, misnamed streets and if towns appear to be off.
This is something that Google didn’t really have when it got started with Mapping. This is what Apple can use to their advantage and how they can close the chasm between them and Google maps. I do not believe that Apple will be getting Street View but I do believe that Apple will, eventually, correct their little mapping snafu.