Steve Jobs wouldn’t have let this happen

Steve Jobs pic thanks to CogLogLab

If they have a web connection in the afterlife Steve Jobs must be fuming about the gaffes in Apple Maps and thinking “This would never have happened on my watch”

By now you have probably read about the catalogue of errors, incorrect data, wrong routes etc in the new Apple Maps app released with iOS 6, if not you can see some of the funniest here or here for some UK specifics, oh and here for some interesting geopolitical stuff. There have been so many people wanting to share their favourites that a dedicated site has sprung up called The Amazing iOS6 Maps.

So you get the feeling that the initial launch of Apple Maps has run into some problems with interface and whizziness triumphing over quality and coverage of data. Mike Dobson who knows a heck of a lot about spatial data, conflation, VGI and geostuff wrote this very sharp piece yesterday, he summed up the mess

“Apple does not have a core competency in mapping and has not yet assembled the sizable, capable team that they will eventually need if they are determined to produce their own mapping/navigation/local search application.”

And his advice to Apple

“Of course there appears nowhere to go but up for Apple in mapping. I wish them the greatest of success and …

.. I urge Apple to keep a sense of humor about these problems, as have some of its users. I had a great laugh at a comment about Apple’s mistaking a farm in Ireland as an airport. The comment was “Not only did #Apple give us #iOS6… They also gave us a new airport off the Upper Kilmacud Road! Yay!

Of course things have been made worse for iOS6 users because the Google Maps app that they had up to iOS5 has disappeared and there is no replacement in the App Store yet. There are rumours that Google has an app built but whether it is waiting for approval by Apple or has not been submitted yet is pure speculation. Ed Parsons declined to comment on twitter but was believed to have a slight grin on his face. I suspect the folk at Google must be trying not to overdose on schadenfreude today. If Google really wanted to step up the Android vs iOS wars then it might just suit them not to release a Maps app for iOS6. If you have downloaded iOS6 and want your Google Maps back then browse to it in your mobile browser and save the bookmark as a shortcut on your home page (instructions and pros and cons here).

Apple have acknowledged that this first release of Apple Maps has a few problems

“Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service.

We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover, turn by turn navigation, and Siri integration.

We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it.

Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get.

We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.”

I particularly like “Maps is a cloud based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get” Oh yeah! How is that going to happen, being in the cloud has no bearing on the data problems they have. It doesn’t appear that there is a feedback loop or error connection process in place for users to help Apple fix their problems and after you have paid ca £600 for an unlocked phone are you going to want to help Apple sort out their problems? This could be a long, hard and expensive grind for Apple to fix on a global scale, Google do massive data as their day to day (Apple do design, engineering and user experience) and it’s taken Google 8 years and tons of investment to get to where they are today. Someone at Apple may yet regret the day they decided to throw down the Maps gauntlet particularly as we can be certain that Google are not going to sit back and wait for them to sort their maps act out.

You have to think that Apple Maps would not have been released without a lot more test and QA if Steve had still been running the shop or was Maps a piece of Steve hubris that once started couldn’t be stopped?

Lot’s of us (Apple fans like me included) have been wondering when the halo was going to slip, could just be that we now know. September 20th 2012 was a “Bad Maps Day” for Apple.