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Google IOS Upgrades Apple

Why Apple Replaced iOS Maps 561

Posted by timothy
from the gnomes-in-the-glass-garden dept.
tlhIngan writes "So why did Apple decide to ditch the (working) iOS maps app with one based on their own data (despite having one more year to the contract)? It turns out to be turn-by-turn voice navigation. It wasn't a feature in the original Apple-Google licensing agreement, so Apple went back to Google to renegotiate what has become a top-tier feature on Android. Apple wanted it. In return, Google wanted increased branding in the maps app (Apple refused) or to integrate Latitude (Google's FourSquare competitor), to which Apple refused as well. As a result Apple was forced to seek other sources in order to obtain this feature." Eventually, iOS users who don't want to wait for Apple-Google parity will be able to download a native version of Google's maps (rather than a hacked version), but that could be a ways off.
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Why Apple Replaced iOS Maps

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  • by Tufriast (824996) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @01:48PM (#41479961)
    This is probably the most accurate, and intelligent read on the topic. His sources are very close to Apple; VERY close indeed. http://daringfireball.net/2012/09/timing_of_apples_map_switch [daringfireball.net] You'll notice that he says it was all about timing, and how much time was left on the clock.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @01:55PM (#41480055)

    First of all, start out by trying to use the new map. In your area it may be fine; it has been for me so far. It seems like Europe and other areas the data may be more wonky at the moment.

    But if you really find you cannot use Apple maps, there are other alternatives:

    1) Just use maps.google.com in a browser, you can also save the direct link to your home screen.
    2) Use the Bing app which includes Bing maps.
    3) Use an app based on Open Street Maps which generally have good maps in highly populated areas - Waze is free and also does crowdsourced traffic/hazard/police reports.
    4) Use any of the offline mapping solutions like Navigon.
    5) The Yelp app can help you find businesses in an area if you feel like Apple's Maps is not listing them.
    6) There are apps that display StreetView images if you still rely on that.
    7) Look and see what Apple Maps offers you for transit maps in the area as they can also be useful for finding other things or just getting around town.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 27, 2012 @02:12PM (#41480325)

    You clearly don't read his blog regularly. He is frequently critical of Apple. He is on the record as saying the Apple "over promised, and under delivered" on Maps, and few people eviscerate iTunes on Mac more harshly than Gruber (which is saying something).

  • by Dhrakar (32366) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @02:15PM (#41480391)

    Actually, no. John Gruber is often an Apple apologinista, but he has been more than willing to call out Apple when he thinks they have done something wrong. For example, he frequently runs a "WTF App Store?" article on some odd App store rejection or other.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @02:17PM (#41480411)

    MapQuest is, by far, a better app than both Apple Maps and Google Maps combined.

    It has some nice features and the map looks nice BUT....

    For one thing it's ad supported. That occurs in a few different ways in the UI, in traditional banner ads but also branded searching tabs at the bottom.

    The bigger issue is the first search I did, it gave me a result with a store that is actually across town but it placed within a mile of me... that's exactly the kind of thing Apple caught flack for, and rightfully so when it happens. For me Apple Maps has not failed to correctly locate a local place or business, so the fact that Mapquest did not makes me wonder if it might not have the same issues and not really be a good alternative.

    I don't see any way to give feedback in the Mapquest app, at least with the Apple maps if it gets something wrong I can tell it so.

  • Re:Competition (Score:3, Informative)

    by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @02:24PM (#41480513)
    I'm really not sure. From a user's perspective, turn-by-turn voice navigation on my Android is about the best I could ask for. It hasn't steered me wrong yet, it pronounces street names pretty accurately and the map info is up-to-date. From a programmer's perspective, I've written an Android app that uses parts of the APIs from both Google Maps and Mapquest...As I say "parts" of the APIs, I'm not sure what either is fully capable of. Mapquest seems to have an undocumented API for gasprices.mapquest.com...I've also used MQ's geolocation API.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 27, 2012 @02:26PM (#41480533)
    The iOS maps app was written by Apple using Google's map data. Google didn't get any ad clicks out of it. There were no ads. They could track what tiles you requested and perhaps serve better ads to you later but, again, there are no map ads.
  • by dave562 (969951) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @02:37PM (#41480703) Journal

    Undoing a bunch of moderation to post... grrrrrr.

    Google Maps on my Droid Razr absolutely supports rotating the map. Hold one finger on the center of the map and then drag another finger left to right above it. The map will rotate around the pivot point of the first finger.

    The same technique does not work on a first generation Samsung Galaxy, so it is somewhat device dependent.

  • by Cinder6 (894572) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @02:41PM (#41480761)

    This article has a good rundown of why Apple didn't want to wait another year: http://daringfireball.net/2012/09/get_the_fainting_chair [daringfireball.net]

    Basically, Apple didn't want to have another year without a "built-in" turn-by-turn solution, even if the new one is buggy for some users. Another reason for making it a core app (that I haven't seen others state) is that it means all iPhone 4S and 5 users can simply fire up Siri and say, "Take me to 123 Fake St.", and it will work the same (well, it will once they fix the issues) on everyone's phone. That's a big selling point, as at this time, apps from the App Store don't work with Siri--not even Apple-made apps.

  • by Cinder6 (894572) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @03:31PM (#41481377)

    They did approach alternative mappers, however. Apple Maps uses TomTom "and others" according to the app itself. What Apple rebuilt was the UI.

  • by Tordanik (1771960) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @03:51PM (#41481585)

    Your conspiracy theory wouldn't be convincing even if your facts were correct, but few of them are.

    both Apple decision to source OSM and the license change happened in 2010

    I've been an OpenStreetMap contributor since 2008, and the license change discussions had already been started back then. You can find evidence of the process throughout the project's documentation and mailing lists, but for an obvious example look at the revision history of the OpenStreetMap wiki page for "Open Database License" (OSM's new license) and notice that the first version [openstreetmap.org] is from February 2008 and already describes the characteristics that define this license today.

    loosing roughly 30% of map data in the process

    This is a massive exaggeration of the effects of the license change, as the actual numbers for data loss are in the low one-digit figures.

    Details depend on how you count, and unfortunately some areas - particularly Australia and Poland - were hit disproportionately hard. But even though this is indeed a setback for those regions, thanks to the continuing growth the current version of the database already contains more content than we had before the deletions (go to OSMstats [altogetherlost.com] and switch to the yearly graph; the dent in summer 2012 is from the license change). Even though this does not mean that all the damage has already been repaired, it makes me confident that the OSM community is up to the task.

    took an Open Source map (OSM) and gave gave it to himself, without an obligation to share back the updates.

    This misrepresents the purpose of the Open Database License. The ODbL has an exception for produced works such as image tiles or prints, but is otherwise a share alike license. So under the ODbL Apple would indeed be able to use OSM and keep the artistic components of their products, i.e. their pretty map designs, to themselves, but updates to the underlying factual data (and derivative databases such as routing graphs) would have to be open sourced.

    But the most important fact that you are missing: Apple is not actually using much, if any OpenStreetMap data under the new license! The situation is somewhat confusing, though:

    • Apple have been using OSM as their primary data source for iPhoto background maps since March. This was widely published and also acknowledged [osmfoundation.org] by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. To everyone's astonishment, though, they decided to use a two year old dump of the OpenStreetMap database for that application ... which also means this data is not affected by the license change at all.
    • Apple list OSM as one of many sources for their recently released iOS maps here [apple.com]. They fail to mention the license (which incidentally is an, albeit minor, violation of the requirements of both the old and new license). As a result, it is hard to tell whether they have used post-license change data this time.
    • Even though some traces of OSM data in iOS maps have been spotted, this is only the case in a few remote areas (Islamabad is one of the more convincing examples). Early assumptions that OSM data might be responsible for some prominent errors e.g. in Japan have turned out to be incorrect. In fact, many of those errors would have been avoided had Apple actually used OSM data there.

    So if Apple indeed set up an elaborate conspiracy to have OSM release their data under ODbL, why aren't they using it?

    TL;DR: There is neither a plausible connection between Apple and the OpenStreetMap license change, nor has the event damaged OpenStreetMap even remotely to the extent suggested by the parent's factually incorrect description.

  • No need to.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mystikkman (1487801) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @04:02PM (#41481679)

    You mean read his stupid crap snarky sneering comparisons on Amazon's earnings vs. Apple's ?

    http://daringfireball.net/linked/2012/07/27/amzn-profit-correction [daringfireball.net]

    Or calling Apple's competitors turds?

    http://daringfireball.net/linked/2012/08/01/nokia-nail-polish [daringfireball.net]

    Or his various hate filled diatribes on Google and Android? Or how he stated that Android would never overtake the iPhone? And then how he tried to muddy the waters by adding the iPad numbers to claim iOS' superiority? After even that failed, he(and his chums like Siegler) resorted to calling the Apple winner over Android because it takes 80% of the mobile profits! Like how MS wins the server OS market and the web server market and the IDE market with Windows Server, IIS and Visual Studio over Linux, Apache/nginx etc.

    For proof of his partisanship see his analysis of Apple's forced 30% cut of in-app purchases over which it kicked out a number of apps.

    http://daringfireball.net/2011/03/dirty_percent [daringfireball.net]

    Summary: Apple does it because it can and people complaining are doing so because they're jealous they can't do the same thing.

    In short, he's nothing but a partisan hack. Actually anyone would be, if they could earn $3000 per RSS ad while lounging around in pyjamas looking for tidbits of news and "analysis" to post pandering to the typical type of audience he attracts.

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:36PM (#41483341)

    A) There are flaws in Apple's Maps database.

    B) These flaws very likely do not affect you in any way.

    I live in a medium-sized (1.3 million) city in a Western industrialised nation (Australia) and Apple Maps is worse than useless. At an anecdotal guess I'd say 75% of my searches for established well-known businesses and locations in my city give me "No Results Found"; 25% are laughably incorrect; maybe 25% are useful.

    An Apple product that only does what I need 1 out of 4 times is a horrible failure.

  • by muffen (321442) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:40PM (#41483389)
    Spoken like someone who probably never traveled outside of the USA. When you say big city, does the second biggest city in Sweden count? Because if it does, I can tell you it's missing completely from Apple gaps (seems like a more accurate name for what it is).
  • by beejhuff (186291) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @09:32PM (#41484431) Homepage

    This is incorrect and refuted in TFA.

    Apple did not request turn-by-turn in their original licensing agreement. When they realized they wanted to add it to their iOS app, they went back to Google and Google offered to add turn-by-turn but required additional branding in the app as part of the deal.

    Apple refused.

    Agree or disagree with whether or not it was a good decision, but it was APPLE's decision to refuse the terms. Google did not refuse to allow turn by turn - Apple just didn't get that it was important when they did original negotiations.

    Posted from iPad, in case you thought I was a hater.

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