With Apple's new iPhone 5 came a new operating system, iOS 6. And with iOS 6, came the biggest disappointment to come out of Cupertino in years: Apple Maps, a deeply flawed replacement for Google Maps. At this point even ardent iPhone defenders agree that Apple's new mapping software is a "downgrade" compared to Google Maps, which came standard with every iPhone until iOS 6. Though far from perfect, Google's refined offering is still eons ahead of Apple Maps, which for the time being is so unfleshed-out and buggy that the internet's already set up a Tumblr to archive all the glitches. Many consider Apple's rejection of Google Maps further evidence of the growing rift between the two rivals. But "maps are tough," says Kyle Wagner at Gizmodo, and the company is learning its lesson the hard way. Here, four things Apple needs to do to turn its map software into a viable platform:
1. Public transit directions
This is a "big one if you live in a major city," says Jamie Lendino at PC Mag. Anyone who relies on mapping software for bus, subway, or train information is out of luck, and users will need to download a third-party transit app like Embark to find where they're going. Let's take a step back, says Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch. Google's transit directions were "notoriously bad," and Apple could be opening up mass transit directions to third-parties so encourage a "higher-quality product." Still, says Dan Frommer at SplatF, Apple will need to include "functional transit directions" if it wants to make this "sort-of-passable Maps app" a "really great one."
2. A true alternative to Google Street View
When Google first revealed Street View, the service was a novelty more than anything else. But it's since "blossomed" into a useful tool for finding your way around in major cities, says PC Mag's Lendino, especially when you're on vacation. Apple Maps does have a flyover feature, which takes users on a bird's-eye view of a few select cities, but it's far from actually useful... at least not yet. It will probably take "Apple just as long as it did Google" to build this feature into something helpful.
3. Better address detection
Apple Maps frequently misses the mark when it comes to pointing out destinations. Sometimes these are "funny mistakes, like incorrect business listings," Gizmodo's Wagner. (In another instance, Apple places the Washington Monument's dot well off the Washington Monument.) These issues should rectify quickly as iOS 6 users "report their issues back to the Cupertino mothership." Unfortunately, the only thing that will make this better is time and user input.
4. Useful driving direction options
"There's turn by turn directions," which are useful for drivers who like to be instructed one step at a time, says Chris Taylor at Mashable. With Google Maps you had the ability to look at a step or two ahead, which is really helpful for anticipating "tricky freeway exits." With Apple Maps, you either "get a list of the turns, or see the whole map without turn descriptions." Why not combine both, plus give users the ability to skip forward?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- Why your employer should clean your house and do your laundry
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- The big policy question libertarians can't answer
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
Subscribe to the Week