Apple Maps: You can't get there from here!

Apple Maps: You can't get there from here!

Summary: With iOS version 6, Apple ditched Google Maps and went DIY, with disastrous results. According to geospatial specialist Dr Michael Dobson, this was entirely predictable.

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TOPICS: Apple
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"They didn't have enough time and they didn't have enough people, and they may not have had the required skill sets to get this right," Dr Michael Dobson said. "It is impossible to conceptualise that Apple didn't know this was going to be a train wreck."

A Tumblr blog has been documenting the Apple Maps mishaps — everything from moving Berlin to the South Pole, to including a railway station in suburban Melbourne that closed more than a century ago.

Dobson now consults on geospatial matters with TeleMapics, but he's previously been chief technologist and chief cartographer with Rand McNally & Company, and associate professor of geography at the State University of New York at Albany.

Google Maps has been operating for more than seven years and employs thousands of people to correct problems caused by merging different datasets and crowdsourced contributions. Dobson predicted back in June that Apple just didn't have the time or resources to match. He was right, and in a follow-up post, he outlined the challenges now facing Apple.

Dobson discussed these issues and more in this week's Patch Monday podcast.

Meanwhile, iOS app developers are left with a difficult choice: continue to use Apple's built-in MapKit interface with its now-bad maps, or switch to a third-party provider, such as Google or Bing?

"I think it is a bit of a train wreck, particularly for developers. I think less so for consumers," said Leslie Nassar, technology director for digital agency Amnesia Razorfish.

"These guys that already have apps out on the App Store and in the ecosystem, they're relying on the maps that integrate with their apps ... It's going to reflect poorly on developers, certainly as poorly as it reflects on Apple."

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Running time 33 minutes, 44 seconds.

Topic: Apple

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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9 comments
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  • ROFL

    Apple "just didn't have the time or resources" -- the richest, most profitable company on the planet, also most highly-valued on markets, lacked the resources to do maps?

    In realty, Apple is incapable. They got ahead of themselves. Apple is and always have been a second-rate company. Their success with iOS was a blip, and it's unjustified.

    Apple is grossly overrated. The corporation's products and services are grossly overrated, and even then the best and cleverest parts are build by others e.e. Samsung.

    Only those who believe Apple's marketing as gospel truth, and who are ignorant pf the truth, would expect Apple Maps to be better than it is.
    Tim Acheson
  • Apple : grossly overrated

    Apple "just didn't have the time or resources" -- the richest, most profitable company on the planet, also most highly-valued on markets, lacked the resources to do maps?

    In realty, Apple is incapable. They got ahead of themselves. Apple is and always have been a second-rate company. Their success with iOS was a blip, and it's unjustified.

    Apple is grossly overrated. The corporation's products and services are grossly overrated, and even then the best and cleverest parts are build by others e.e. Samsung.

    Only those who believe Apple's marketing as gospel truth, and who are ignorant pf the truth, would expect Apple Maps to be better than it is.
    Tim Acheson
  • Richest company ever...

    And they didnt't have time or ressources? What a joke!
    pepe-el-Toro
    • They Didn't

      Knowing what a project will take in time and resources is not the same as having those resources. And please do NOT equate resources with money. If you don't have cartographers, programmers, and maintainers already hired then you aren't ready no matter how much cash you have on hand. Google has known this for a while; Apple is just now figuring it out.
      benched42
      • Then they should have waited

        Maybe if they released Maps with iPhone 6 (or 5s, or whatever), it would have been a lot better than rushing it out. Don't get me wrong, I want a good competitor to Google Maps. I want companies to have to compete, it makes all products better in the end.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • But not investing in the resources is what's embarrassing them now

        It's not that they have more cash than most governments. We would understand if a company with extremely limited funding wasn't able to invest enough in a particular project to make it as good, if not better, than the competition.

        But when they [b]do[/b] have that amount of cash & resources on hand that [b]could have[/b] been used on the project, yet chose not to do so...that's when we can rightly say there's a problem. After all, what would have been the effect on their bottom line to have to spend, say, 10 million USD on their Maps project...when they're currently listed as having a net worth of over 600 [b]billion[/b] USD? That's the equivalent of a typical middle-class American family [b]buying a candy bar[/b].

        A relatively little amount of money spent beforehand could have saved them some very public embarrassment.
        spdragoo@...
      • RE: They Didn't

        Apple would have been better off placing their mapping app in the app store where users could *optionally* download, install and use the app. Interested iOS users could then report discrepancies between Apple's and Google's mapping apps since they'd have both on their devices. They might actually find a few Google mapping errors too.

        P.S. Just curious. Is their a button on Apple's iOS 6 mapping app that pops up a Window and allows users to provide feedback to Apple?
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • Or,

          They could have added the Apple Maps app to the store knowing that people wouldn't use it and later, after they had at least obtained enough good data (or companies that did map data) they could have integrated it into their OS and removed the app from the app store (and others' app stores as well).... that's exactly what they did with Siri.
          benched42
          • So we all agree

            that they should have waited?
            Michael Alan Goff