Back in July, I said the big question about iOS 6 was the new Maps. I wrote,
- How comprehensive will the coverage of 3-D data be when iOS6 and the next iPhone and the all new iPad mini (you didn’t think it would be announced before iOS6 is out, did you?) launch?
- How competitive will the mapping basics be? Things like coverage 2-D aerial photography, places of interest, searching for locations, directions.
- How competitive will the new features be in practice eg the turn-by-turn navigation?
- How important will the loss of unique Google features, like Street View, be? To what extent can the 3-D view substitute for Street View going forward?
In short, has Apple done enough to delight their customers; or too little that people will feel the new maps is a downgrade?
The reality turns out to be much worse than I’d imagined. The maps team has failed in all the above key areas, including the basics. That means the new Maps app is badly broken. Customers didn’t take long to notice. For example, see this story on the BBC News web-site.
Now, the big question is – can Apple fix this on any reasonable time-scale? That depends on when key people at Apple realized there was a problem. If they’re only just realizing now that there’s a problem, then there may be no quick fixes. That’s because the whole strategy behind the current implementation of key aspects is flawed. On the other hand, if the current implementation was always intended as a stop-gap solution to meet their shipping date, then there may already be a “proper” solution in the works.
Time will tell. Personally, I’m shocked at how bad the new Maps is. I’d wrongly assumed that the beta was deliberately crippled so that Apple’s competition wouldn’t know how far along they’d got ahead of shipping the new product.
If you know what Steve Jobs said to the Mobile Me senior management when they shipped a disastrously broken product, you might be forgiven for wondering if Tim Cook should be saying something similar to the senior people responsible for the new Maps…