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Apple's maps: a little humility would go a long way

Here's what I think about the iOS6 maps debacle:

Yes, it's a new service and Google has years of head-start, so no-one should expect Apple's maps to be as good.

And yep, it's true that none of us know the contractual details behind the change, so we don't know if there was any flexibility on either side that could have made the transition smoother.

But: Apple's presentation of the new Maps app has been disingenuous, at best.

They presented it as one of the primary new features in iOS6. They're saying that their own Maps app is one of the reasons you should upgrade to iOS6.

Really, if Apple's maps are years behind Google's, this was the wrong way to present them.

Rather than say "Maps is a cool new feature in iOS6", it would have been better if Apple had said: "In iOS6, you'll notice we've switched to our own Maps data. It's not as comprehensive as the data set you're used to, but we have ambitious plans to improve it in the months and years ahead. Here's a list of alternative mapping apps and websites you can use if you need them - and if you find anything wrong in our own data, please tell us about it here."

So my point is: Apple has every right to have its own Maps app. And every right to make it the default maps app on iOS. But the way it has presented the Maps app on this occasion is a classic example of the arrogance some people often accuse Apple of.

It was arrogant of them to use this kind of language to describe the Maps app:

"All of which may just make this app the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever."

... when that's plainly not the case.

I think there would have been much less fuss if Apple had been a little more humble about what it had to offer and how it compares with rival services. Concentrating all its demos on Flyover in major cities was just visual fluff; the vast majority of people just want accurate, up-to-date, functional maps for the places they live and visit. They're not getting that at the moment.

(My personal experience: the town I live in, Bradford on Avon, is labelled "South Wraxall", which is a village about five miles to the north. The Community Hospital marked to the north of the town closed down years ago - and wasn't even at the place marked.)

(20th Sept 2012)