It is probably fair to say that the new Maps app on iOS 6 has been the biggest disappointment regarding the iPhone 5. Apple promised the world but failed to deliver. The new Maps app has many problems including businesses and landmarks being in the wrong place; faulty turn-by-turn navigation; displaying businesses which no longer exist; misspelt place names; satellite images obscured by clouds; and poorly rendered 3D buildings in some places.
Although people are generally happy with the new iPhone, and reviews have been largely positive, it is this new Maps app that has been a big source of complaints. Many people argue that it feels like a beta product that should have undergone much more testing before being released – it certainly pales in comparison to the Google powered Maps app that it’s replaced. With this in mind, who better than ex Google Maps engineers to fix the problem?
Apple has reportedly started hiring former Google engineers who were heavily involved in the development of Maps for Google. One contractor who has been head hunted by Apple had previously worked on Google’s Street View, turn-by-turn navigation, and the integration of third party data and has told TechCrunch the reasons behind his decision to leave his well-paid job at Google.
The employee left Google when the company had completed Street View and turned its attention to indoor mapping, which many engineers working on Google Maps apparently found a lot less interesting. Many of these former Google employees are apparently quite eager to work for Apple as they relish the opportunity to build a completely new product, rather than just working on updates and tweaks to the already completed Google Maps.
New Maps on the Horizon?
Considering that many of the software engineers that Apple is actively headhunting had worked closely on the development of Google Maps it seems quite likely that Apple Maps will offer serious competition to Google Maps in the near future.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Miller had stated last Friday that Apple Maps was a work in progress and due to its cloud based nature it would improve the more people used it. This is also what Apple had claimed about Siri (although even Steve Wozniak is unconvinced by Siri’s ability to improve), but it seems unlikely that things such as 3D map renderings will improve simply by people using the app more often. The only way that many of Apple Maps’ problems will be resolved is by a serious revision from skilled software engineers, and who better than the people who brought us Google Maps?
Apple Street View? Not Likely…
This does open up the possibility that Apple will develop its own “Street View” to compete with Google, as this missing feature had been a big source of disappointment in many reviews of the new Maps app, although considering the legal difficulties this resulted in for Google, Apple may be best advised to give that feature a miss.
There are already reports of some iPhone 5 owners porting the older iOS Maps app from iOS 5 to work on their new phones, while Google has declined to comment on the possibility that it is working on a new Google Maps app to be released to the App Store.
Simon writes for Best Mobile Contracts and recently reported on many of the problems users have experienced with the new Apple Maps app.