Apple’s iOS 6 was released last Friday, and unfortunately for Apple the biggest news is ‘Mapgate’. And there really are plenty of examples of pretty crazy mapping to be found. To be honest, it looks like the 3D fly-over view just didn’t expect to encounter bridges. Amidst the hilariously wrong maps and weird looking bridges, the complaints about missing public transport directions have been easy to miss.
By all accounts, Apple really seem to have screwed their customers here. Which seems like a strange thing to do.
Coming back to those missing public transport directions for a moment. I haven’t always lived in the US. In the rest of the world, services run out of the US are very frustrating: data is either completely missing or very, very slow to update. I have heard specific complaints about the difficulties many public transport operators have providing accurate routing information to Google. Allowing third parties to provide routing information is a good thing. Surprisingly enough, I trust the NSW government more than Google to provide accurate directions across Sydney.
Remember, Google Maps is actually pretty horribly inaccurate. I’ve long since stopped using it to search for businesses: instead I’ll find the business’ web site, get their address, and then search for that. But, Google Maps is far, far better than Apple Maps. Google Maps has had eight years to get as good as it is. When it first launched it was pretty pitiful, and simply couldn’t search for addresses outside of the US. Apple is being judged against a product with a lot of history.
While there isn’t such a thing as a first-mover advantage, perhaps there is a first-eight-years-mover advantage?
But if Apple is expected to start improving their maps from feedback of users, I’m left with a question. This isn’t Apple’s mapping data. It’s primarily TomTom’s. TomTom have been doing this longer than Google. And what have they been doing all this time?