The iPhone 5, which goes on sale Friday, has been receiving glowing reviews in the tech world. However, the normally impeccable taste-makers at Apple are being slammed for one misguided decision: Dropping Google Maps from iOS 6, the operating system that comes with the iPhone 5 and is currently available for download for owners of previous iPhone iterations. Users say the replacement mapping app, Apple Maps, gives wildly inaccurate directions (particularly for overseas locations) and fails to identify public transportation systems in big cities. It's marred by so many glitches that a tumblr showcasing the errors has already hit the web. Apple reportedly eschewed Google Maps to distance itself from Google, whose Android operating system has become a serious rival to the iPhone. Is dropping Google Maps, one of the most useful smartphone features ever, a deal-breaker?

Apple Maps is certainly a step down: Most people were "hoping Apple was going to come out of the gate strongly with its own Maps app," says Jamie Lendino at PCMag. The company usually "looks at the market, see[s] what other competitors have done, and then comes in with its own product that often upends existing ideas... with an extra dose of polish." But Apple Maps is a mess. It may "takes years of refinements" before Apple Maps is functional; meanwhile, iPhone users can only pray that Google Maps will soon be available in the iPhone app store.
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And it bodes ill for Apple's future: This is the first time that Apple has offered an inferior product just so it could screw another company, says Anil Dash at his blog. It raises concerns that Apple, which earned the allegiances of users with a laser focus on quality, "will start to regularly compromise its user experiences in order to focus on its squabbles with other tech titans."
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But the iPhone still has an edge: Apple's competitors "are already attempting to capitalize on the controversy," says Carl Franzen at Talking Points Memo. Nokia, which recently released its Lumia 920 and 820, "took to its official blog to advertise the superior quality of its digital mapping and location services." However, the maps debacle doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker for most people. Since iOS 6 was released earlier this week, users have been rushing to download it.
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