Apple has acknowledged that it is to blame for the Maps fiasco, telling New York Times columnist David Pogue: “We own this; we manage the vendors. This is no one’s issue but ours.”
The unnamed source told Pogue that Apple’s Maps consists of many petabytes of data and that well over 99% of it is accurate. Unfortunately, notes Pogue, 99% of many petabytes means there is still a lot of incorrect data.
Pogue, who is usually sympathetic to Apple, describes his experience with Maps, which lead him to the wrong location. “Maps is an appalling first release,” he writes, describing Maps as “the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever unleashed.” Pogue uses the term Mapplegate to describe the fiasco.
He notes that point-of-interest data is particularly incomplete, especially overseas. He also notes that Apple’s Maps is missing Street View (based on the data collected by Google’s photo cars when they drove around the roads near you). It’s also missing public transportation guidance – the option for transit directions is there, but Apple sends you to the App Store to download third party apps.
Pogue does have a few positive things to say about Apple Maps, noting that it adds turn-by-turn directions, auto-rerouting and a 3D view of your route. He also describes the design “ elegant, smart and attractive,” but notes that isn’t enough when faced with “questionable data”. “It’s as though you just got a $1,500 professional coffee maker and then poured moldy beans into it,” Pogue writes.
Pogue’s source revealed that one reason why Apple ditched the Google map service was that it didn’t want to supply so much valuable user data to its rival. As we mentioned yesterday, Apple also felt that Google was keeping the best features for Android, with turn by turn directions only available on those devices.
Regarding how long will it take Apple to fix the problem, Pogue speculates that since the data is online it will be possible for Apple to introduce fixes instantly. However, an Apple source told him: “It’s not going to change by Friday.” This is because fixes have to be made one at a time, by hand, according to Pogue.
Apple sources have told us to encourage our readers to report problems with maps. As an earlier statement from Apple suggested, Maps is crowd-sourced, and Apple is hoping that users will help it identify problems.
Reporting a mistake is easy. Tap the turned up page on the bottom right and select Report a Problem (hidden just above Print). You have the following options: Search results are incorrect, street or other label is incorrect; Location is missing; Problem with directions; My problem isn’t listed. Once you select the issue, you get an opportunity to write more information about the particular mistake.
According to Pogue, Apple isn’t the one who makes the update, they pass the error reports to TomTom or whichever data vendor is responsible. In some cases the update seems to happen quite quickly. Apple told us that updates should happen within 48 hours.
The fix can’t come quickly enough for some. Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes has suggested that: “Apple may need to address the situation soon perhaps at another product launch event,” although he does note that he believes “concerns over the Maps app are overblown.”
According to the Barclays’ statement, analyst Anthony DiClemente believes that the “Maps issue highlights one key area in the mobile ecosystem where Google has the clear advantage (beyond just search)”.
However, Barclays, believes: “Apple can improve its offering with software updates over time and that the issues seem more significant overseas,” reports Barrons.
According to a separate New York Times report, you may only have to wait a couple of months until Google Maps appears in Apple’s App Store. According to the New York Times sources, Google is at work updating its app and hopes to be finished by the end of the year. Some have questioned why it would take Google so long to update an app that was already working on the iPhone and iPad. According to the New York Times report, Google expected that its maps app would remain on the iPhone until the contract between the two companies came to an end, so it was caught off guard when Apple decided to build a new application to replace the old one. Apple is said to have decided to ditch Google and replace the Maps app with one of its own in June this year (although the company had been acquiring Maps companies for some years now). In addition, according to the report, Google is looking to update its Maps app with 3D imagery that currently uses a separate code base, so it would take some time to combine the two.
Google appears to be in no hurry, however. Earlier this week, Eric Schmidt suggested Google was waiting for Apple to make the first move and has “not done anything yet” with regards to getting its Google Maps back on the iPhone. However, according to New York Times sources, Google does intend to build a Google Maps app for iOS.