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Apple CEO Tim Cook Apologizes For Maps App, Recommends Alternatives 451

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-rebrand-it-as-stylized-earth dept.
TheBoat writes "Tim Cook has apologized for the company's Maps app in iOS 6. 'We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.' Cook said the company is continuing to work on the app, but recommended several alternatives in the meantime: apps from Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or the map websites of Google and Nokia." This is unusual for Apple, but not unprecedented. Steve Jobs acknowledged reception issues with the iPhone 4 in 2010, but he wasn't quite so contrite about it.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook Apologizes For Maps App, Recommends Alternatives

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  • Really bad in Canada (Score:5, Informative)

    by jest3r (458429) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:34AM (#41487225)

    In an effort to figure out how innacurate the data in my area is I did the following:
    - Fired up Xcode
    - Determined that Apple Maps uses the CLGeocoder Class by peeking at the iPhone's debug console in Xcode while doing live searches in Apple Maps
    - Scraped an official list of towns and cities in the province of Ontario from the provincial governments website.
    - Coded up something quick in Xcode to get the results of a couple thousand searches. Searches always included the province name to be more specific.
    - Ran a quick analysis of the results - not perfect but enough to get a perspective on the matter.

    This is what I found:
    - 2028 cities and towns searched
    - 688 are not even on the map! Error Code 8
    - 551 are clearly incorrect (wrong country, street names that are similar to town names etc.)
    - 389 were close but not good enough (for example turn-by-turn might send you off a bridge but you'll get rescued close to where you want to be)
    - Only about 400 results were actually correct.

    Actual results data here and methodology here for those interested: http://www.mtonic.com/applemaps/ [mtonic.com]
    (It's not perfect but gives you an idea of how bad it really is in Ontario Canada anyways)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:50AM (#41487435)

    You are missing something. They used Tom Tom data and weren't bright enough to figure out it was crap.

  • Failure in reporting (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:54AM (#41487485) Homepage

    Good job driving ad traffic to BGR, who didn't even bother to link to the original source:

    http://www.apple.com/letter-from-tim-cook-on-maps/ [apple.com]

  • Re:Admitted Failure (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:07AM (#41487643) Homepage

    Just because it doesn't have a building exactly there doesn't mean it isn't valid to search for it. There is a 300 block on E 15th street, and searching for 315 on any mapping app other than iOS 6 maps will at least take you to a location interpolated between the two nearest real buildings on the odd side of the street.

    In this case, looking at the maps, it's a public park. It's perfectly valid to reference the park as "3xx E 15th street" where xx is odd. If you search for this, you should get some point along the street on the edge of the park.

    Also, someone could be searching for a valid address and typo the number. Easy to do - Any SANE mapping app will degrade gracefully in this case and take you to a location that's within visual range of your actual desired destination. Only iOS 6 maps won't.

    iOS 6 maps is the only one that will take you to A COMPLETELY WRONG ROAD.

  • A correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:19AM (#41487807)

    The idea that Steve Jobs never apologized for anything seems to be starting to become a common Slashdot misconception.

    I'm sure people can think of times when they wish he did apologize for something, but to say he never did would be inaccurate.

  • Clever apologies (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:51AM (#41488249)

    The first apology is for selling too much too quickly.
    The second apology is for lowering the price of the their product.

    This is like when in an interview, the interviewer asks "What are your weakness", you say "Sometimes I work too hard".

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:40AM (#41488985)

    Just because it doesn't have a building exactly there doesn't mean it isn't valid to search for it.

    In which case Apple still finds it. [appleinsider.com]

    The Motorola ad was complete fabrication. But outright lies are OK as long as it's funny!

  • Re:Admitted Failure (Score:4, Informative)

    by Have Blue (616) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:46AM (#41489081) Homepage
    Apple does show you a location which can be accurately described 315 E 15th- elsewhere in the city, on a different 15th Street. This location most closely matches the search term in that there is actually a building numbered 315 there, it just isn't in Manhattan.

    If you force it to look only in Manhattan by searching for "315 E 15th St Manhattan", it does interpolate the building numbers as you describe and returns a location in the park.

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/09/27/googles-ilost-motorola-ad-faked-an-address-to-lose-ios-6-maps [appleinsider.com]
  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:4, Informative)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:58AM (#41489241) Journal

    They could have purchased TomTom, for example and had everything up and running immediately.

    I think it's a bit more complicated than that. From Apple's mapping attribution [apple.com] page:

    © 2006-2012 TomTom [tomtom.com]
    Business listings data © Acxiom [acxiom.com], 2012.
    Map data © AND [and.com].
    Property parcel data for USA. © CoreLogic Inc. [corelogic.com], 2012.
    Satellite imagery data © DigitalGlobe [digitalglobe.com], 2012.
    Map and postal data © DMTI [dmtispatial.com], 2012. This software contains Postal Code OM Data copied by Apple under a sub-license from DMTI Spatial Inc., a party directly licensed by Canada Post Corporation. The Canada Post Corporation file from which this data was copied is dated 2012.
    Business listings data © Factual [factual.com] 2012.
    Map data © Getchee [getchee.com], 2012.
    © INCREMENT P CORP. [incrementp.co.jp], 2012, http://www.incrementp.co.jp/gc01info/e/legal01.html [incrementp.co.jp].
    Map data © Intermap [intermap.com], 2012.
    Map data © LeadDog [goleaddog.com], 2012.
    Business listings data © Localeze [localeze.com], 2012.
    Mapping data for Australia and New Zealand. © MapData Services Pty Ltd. [mapds.com.au], 2012, PSMA http://www.nowwhere.com.au/lic/NowWhereLic.htm [nowwhere.com.au].
    Map data © MDA Information Systems, Inc. [mdafederal.com], 2012.
    Neighborhood data © Urban Mapping [urbanmapping.com], 2012.
    Map data © 2012 Waze [waze.com].
    âoeReviews from Yelpâ Yelp [yelp.com], 2012.
    (CanVec)
    © Department of Natural Resources Canada. All rights reserved.
    http://www.geogratis.gc.ca/geogratis/en/index.html [geogratis.gc.ca]
    (CGIAR-CSI SRTM)
    CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information, http://srtm.csi.cgiar.org/ [cgiar.org]
    Flickr Shapefiles Public Dataset, Version 1.0, http://www.flickr.com/ [flickr.com]
    (GeoNames)
    GeoNames and contributors, http://www.geonames.org [geonames.org].
    (GlobCover)
    © ESA 2010 and UCLouvain, http://www.esa.int/esaEO/index.html [esa.int]

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration, http://www.nasa.gov [nasa.gov]

    Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. Contains Royal Mail data © Royal Mail copyright and database right 2012. http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/ [ordnancesurvey.co.uk]

    (OSDM)
    © Commonwealth of Australia, 2012. This data has been used with the permission of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has not evaluated the data as altered and incorporated within this software, and therefore gives no warranty regarding its accuracy, completeness, currency or suitability for any particular purpose. http://spatial.gov.au [spatial.gov.au]

    (OSM)
    OpenStreetMap contributors, http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]
    (StatCan)
    Statistics Canada, http://www.statcan.gc.ca [statcan.gc.ca]
    (TIGER/Line® fi

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wraithlyn (133796) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:23PM (#41489567)

    Given the reports that they still had another year worth of contractually available Google Maps, if they wanted it, the early switch does seem like a questionable move

    John Gruber at Daring Fireball makes the best case I've seen [daringfireball.net] for explaining the timing; that their contract would expire mid-way through the iOS6 cycle and Apple would be forced to re-negotiate "with their backs against the wall". Or in other words, the contract would not have lasted until iOS7 comes out, so it made more sense to push out a major change like this in iOS6 instead of cramming it into a point release like 6.1 or 6.2 (can you imagine the outcry if THAT happened? At least people expect x.0 releases to have some teething problems... point releases are expected to refine, polish, and bugfix)

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:2, Informative)

    by calzones (890942) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:53PM (#41490023)

    You can count me as one user who thinks it is the "best ever."

    Ideal? No.
    Best it can be? No.

    But "best ever", abso-fucking-lytely: YES

    I like it better than Google maps on my desktop, in fact:

    It's issues, as I understand it, can be itemized very simply: (1) some satellite images are warped; (2) searching for locations by name is flawed and risks taking you to the wrong place. No one actually cares about item 1, so woop-di-doo to everyone with their panties in a bunch over that. Yes, satellite view is very useful on occasion (as a mountain biker I depend on it often), but it's hardly used as much as map view and the few that critically rely on perfect satellite imagery probably have a preferred dedicated solution. For item 2, yes, everyone cares about this. But for me at least, maybe half of the critical navigation use cases for maps on the iPhone consist of entering an address, not searching. For the situations where I have to search, the workaround is simple: lookup the address elsewhere first and then ask Siri to take me there. Boom. Apple will straighten this issue out over time, and as we all know, the sooner they get the app in the wild being used by millions of people, the sooner they can do that.

    But the ADVANTAGES are HUGE.

    Do you remember zooming in on Google maps and waiting for the tiles to load? Do you remember zooming in and out and seeing blurry pixelated stand-ins while you waited for discrete zoom steps? Or worse, how about those awkward in-between zoom levels where you were stuck with fuzzy-looking maps? Wait, it got worse: how about tiles that never refreshed at all and you were left with a map that was part zoomed in and part zoomed out? Or even tiles that never loaded at all so all you get is a gray square?

    With Apple Maps, this is all a thing of the past. The maps are INSANELY responsive. Zooming in and out is seamless and smooth. Panning is seamless and smooth. No more stutters, no delays, no dropped tiles. No fragmented imagery. No more waiting for something that eventually times out and then your connection sucks and you can't get it back and you're suddenly stuck with no map. And it wasn't just iOS: I suffer the same some-tiles-that-never-load on my desktop computer when using Google maps even over a high bandwidth cable modem.

    How about walking around downtown somewhere, trying to find that bar five blocks over, and being lost... so you pull out your iPhone, but north is on top and you're walking south-east so you get confused about turning left or right at certain intersections. What did you do? You enabled compass mode so you could tell which way you were going to see if you were headed there. But now you need to zoom in or out again to see things better. Bam! compass mode would disengage and you'd lose your orientation again. It was impossible to keep both. Now that's a thing of the past, just rotate freely and pinch to zoom in or out without losing your rotation.

    And turn by turn? We got it now. Wait, even better: turn by turn that takes traffic into account and gives you the optimal route, updating live? We got that now. And 3D view (not talking the flyover stuff here, just basic 3D view) kicks butt and pans really intuitively and helps give you a feel for the layout.

    In short, usability -- Apple's hallmark -- has increased a hundred-fold. Google maps was practically useless for me. Really, it was. Apple maps on the other hand, is everything I ever expected from a mapping app and it's obviously only going to get better.

  • by TrancePhreak (576593) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:15PM (#41490239)
    They have had this for a while, it's not the same, but it's better than you make it sound. http://www.google.com/mobile/maps/3d/ [google.com]
  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:33PM (#41492451) Homepage

    They tried to renegotiate with Google. Apple wanted a few new things like turn-by-turn, and Google was asking for some stuff in exchange, like increased branding, that Apple wasn't willing to do. Unfortunately, I can't remember where the article I read this was. Anyhow, even if the timing for the contract renewal had worked out, they may not have been able to come to terms on the missing features. Things like turn-by-turn weren't needed (or rather weren't expected) in a smartphone mapping app in 2007, but by 2012 they were expected, and their absence in iOS was notable.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:2, Informative)

    by jmerlin (1010641) on Friday September 28, 2012 @04:41PM (#41493499)
    That's a lot of moderation. It appears the fanboys are out in force lately, armed with their "new" iPhone 5s, ready to defend their poor decision making skills and exorbitant purchases. Enjoy your last-gen phones, gentlemen.

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