While Apple plays down the "power" behind its new mapping service, reports speculate on whether Apple is expecting us to do its beta testing, and if senior vice president of iOS Software Scott Forestall should take the blame for the inadequate product.
Apple is no longer claiming that iOS 6 Maps is “the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever” on its website. Instead the company now refers to Maps as “beautiful vector-based interface that scales and zooms with ease”.
The company does, however, add the claim that “Maps gives you turn-by-turn spoken directions”, about the only thing that the new Maps app does that the old Google version didn’t.
The company continues to make many claims about the accuracy of its new Maps app elsewhere on its website, however. Under “Completely Re-Imagined” it notes: “So everything’s easy to read, and you won’t get lost.” That is certainly not the case in Colchester, where if you access maps using Satellite mode the whole town is obscured by Cloud. Unacceptable Apple!
Perhaps Apple’s description of iOS 6 is most accurate: “It takes your iPhone, iPad and iPod in entirely new directions,” says Apple. True: It tried sending us 55 miles north of London to get to Croydon.
We’re all Apple’s beta testers
One report asks why Apple is making us all Beta testers, first with Siri, now with Maps. Despite advertising Siri as one of the key features of iPhone 4S the company always claimed that the voice interpretation solution was in beta. And it’s still in beta: “Siri remains in beta, nearly a year after it first arrived,” writes App Advice. Apple isn’t claiming that Maps is in beta, although it clearly is.
Apple has admitted it wants users of iOS 6 to report problems in iOS 6's Maps.
Apple should have launched Maps the same way they sent Siri into the world a year ago: as a beta, notes Andy Ihnatko, in the SunTimes. Perhaps Apple should have released Maps as a beta, and at the same time continued to give us access to Google Maps.
It looks like the decision to drop Google Maps was made in a rush. According to reports last week, Apple decided to ditch Google Maps just before WWDC, and it signed it’s deal with TomTom shortly after. All this adds up to Maps, like Siri, being released before it was ready.
If the company had given users choice from the start they might have avoided some of the embarrassment that culminated in Apple CEO Tim Cook apologising for the Maps mess last week, and suggest in that while Apple fixes things, users should look elsewhere for alternatives including not just Google, but even Nokia!
As we reported last week, Apple’s Tim Cook appologied for Maps: “While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”
If Apple is serious about delivering “the best experience possible to our customers,” they should add a field to the Maps preferences settings that would allow users to select an alternate default mapping app, suggests Forbes, noting that the phone will take you to Apple Maps as a default.
Forbes goes on to make the helpful suggestion to Apple: “If someone (other than Google) comes up with a better core app, Apple could always, you know, buy it”.
Who’s to blame for Apple Mapsgate?
In response to those who are insisting that under late CEO Steve Jobs Apple would never have released Maps in this state, Jonathan Mann has published his song for Apple’s Maps app on YouTube. We agree that Jobs would have released Maps with iOS 6. If we’re getting into speculating about what might and might not have happened, we think that Maps might not have been released in such a hurry (Jobs would probably have decided to ditch Google sooner than June) and Jobs, notorious for getting the best out of those who worked for him, probably would have driven the team to create a better app than the one that Apple’ eventually launched. But, by no means do we think that Jobs never made mistakes or released shoddy products (case in point: MobileMe). And one thing we can be sure of, Jobs would not have issued an apology in the same vein as Cook. Jobs was more comfortable blaming users (case in point: antennagate, when Jobs suggested via an email to one user that they shouldn't hold it that way).
This morning the blame rather than landing on Cook’s shoulders appears to be being directed at senior vice president of iOS Software Scott Forstall. In a report Fortune asks if Apple has a “Scott Forstall problem”, blaming quality control at Apple.
And, notes the report, Forestall is also behind similarly flawed Siri.
If Forstall’s profile in Bloomberg Businessweek last year is to be believed he is not popular with other members of the executive team. That piece notes: "Some former associates of Forstall, none of whom would comment on the record for fear of alienating Apple, say he routinely takes credit for collaborative successes [and] deflects blame for mistakes."
We wouldn’t want to be in Forstall’s boots this morning.