The new Maps app by Apple has spoken directions, automatic rerouting and a 3-D view of routes. But it still may be the least usable piece of software Apple has ever released.
Last week, I used Apple's new Maps app on my iPhone to guide me to a speaking engagement.
The GPS navigation screen was clean, bold and distraction-free. The voice instructions spoke the actual street names. The prompts gave me just the right amount of time to prepare for each turn.
But there was one problem: When the app told me that I had arrived at my destination, I was parked in a suburban cul-de-sac. Children were playing in a front yard, the sky was a crisp blue and I was late for my talk.
This is not an unusual tale. Horror stories -- and ridicule -- about Apple's Maps app abound on the Internet.
The iPhone's previous mapping app was powered by Google. But in the new iOS 6 software for iPhones and iPads, Apple replaced Google Maps with its own app, built from scratch.
In this new app, the Washington Monument in the U.S. capital has been moved to a new spot across a highway. The closest thing Apple's Maps app can find for Dulles Airport, which serves Washington, is Dulles Airport Taxi, a car service. If you search for Cleveland, Georgia, you get Cleveland, Tennessee. Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, is in the right place but in the wrong decade; it became a Publix supermarket 11 years ago.
The list goes on and on. Entire lakes, train stations, bridges and tourist attractions have been moved, mislabeled or erased. Views from satellite photos consist of stitched-together scenes taken in different seasons and even years and under different weather conditions. The point-of-interest information, in particular, appears to be incomplete or flaky. (For a collection of examples of flawed maps, go to TheAmazingiOS6Maps.tumblr.com.)
Flyover, the most stunning new feature of the iOS6 app, offers interactive, realistic 3-D models of major cities -- but some scenes have gone horribly wrong. The Brooklyn Bridge in New York has melted into the East River; the road to the Hoover Dam in Nevada plunges straight into a canyon; and the main train station in Auckland is in the middle of the harbor.
In short, the first release of the Maps app is appalling. It may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever released.
It is true that the app features spoken turn-by-turn directions, automatic rerouting and a 3-D view of routes, all of which the Google map app lacked. The design of the iOS6 app is elegant, smart and attractive. Flyover is neat, and the app works beautifully with Siri where available. Setting a destination is as easy as saying, "Give me directions to the White House," and off you go. The spoken instructions continue even if you turn off the screen.
But Maps is missing Street View, the Google function that displays street-level photos of an address (Google cars took photos while driving through 3,000 cities in 40 countries to build Street View). Maps is also missing guidance on public transportation; where Google's app could show you what buses or subways are near a destination, the new app hands you off to independent bus- and train- schedule apps.
And while you are navigating, it is not possible to zoom out from the spare, elegant routing screen to look ahead at the itinerary --
Most Popular Stories
- I never set out to be a role model but it's great to be one ; IN THE HOTSEATBetter known by his stage name Wretch 32, Jermaine Sinclair is a 28-year-old rapper from London. In 2011 his debut album Black and White sold over a million copies and scored three top five singles. His latest single Blackout was released this week
- Promoter McLean 'provided more musical joy than Dylan and Prince combined'
- Emirati announces new film project at Cannes
- Schedule packed with talent at the Fox
- SINCE YOU ASKED [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]
- Entrepreneurs Chase Social Media
- SET PHASERS TO DUMB Spock emotional and in love? Nonstop explosions? The highly illogical enterprise of J.J. Abrams' 'Star Trek'
- European Car Sales up First Time in 20 Months
- Contra Costa Times Chuck Barney column
- The News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va., Casey Gillis column