The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, has now acknowledged what the blogosphere has been buzzing about for days: Apple’s new mapping software for iOS 6 has flaws. Some users report on Twitter that certain locations are incorrectly positioned , mislabeled or completely missing. What’s more, some images appear distorted in 3D mode.
Despite the hoopla of certain media outlets, Apple competitors and Apple-haters, the fact is that errors in Apple’s mapping app were to be expected. It is a Herculean job to map the world and provide pinpoint navigation to every address or location on the globe. Tim Cook said that in just one week 100 million iOS 6 users have searched for 500 million locations. This means that even if Apple mapping were 99% accurate during that week there would still be 5 million errors! This is why when you tap Start to begin voice turn-by-turn directions, Apple Maps includes the disclaimer “…always pay attention to the road…directions may change or be inaccurate” (Google Maps has the same disclaimer).
I have used Apple’s mapping app to travel extensively through Long Island and Apple Maps has found every address that I searched for. Sometimes I entered an address in the search box and other times I just entered a name of a business. It is when I entered the name of a business that I got an example of how Apple’s mapping software will improve itself through crowd sourcing.
One night I decided to eat dinner at the Beachtree Cafe. I open Apple’s mapping app and began typing “Beachtree” when a number of suggestions appeared:
Beachtree (my incomplete search term)
Beachtree Rd (Easton, MD)
Beachtree Village Rd (Beech Mountain, NC)
Beachtree Ct (Battle Creek, MI)
I tapped “Beachtree” and a message appeared that this location couldn’t be found. I then typed “Beachtree Cafe” in the search box this term was added to the above suggestions.
After I tapped “Beachtree Cafe”, the message that this location couldn’t be found appeared again. At this point I was starting to get a little frustrated with Apple’s mapping software. But then I went back to the search box and tried again. This time I typed “Beachtree Cafe, East Islip NY” and this term was added to the suggestion list.
When I tapped “Beachtree Cafe, East Islip, NY” Apple Maps instantly displayed a map with the precise location. I tapped Directions and immediately was presented with the correct driving route. Now, when I begin to type “Beachtree” on either my iPhone or iPad and get a list of suggestions, I can tap on “Beachtree”, “Beachtree Cafe” or “Beachtree Cafe, East Islip NY” and, no matter which I tap , I get Beachtree Cafe’s pinpoint location, exact driving directions and yelp info. Apple’s mapping software just “learned something”. As millions of users do the same thing and tap Report a Problem when they arrive at an incorrect destination, Apple mapping will increasingly become a better product and worthy competitor to Google Maps.
More next time.