By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated September 28, 2012.
"Extremely sorry." That's the key message from Apple CEO Tim Cook, making a rare apology on behalf of his company for the reported problems with its new Maps application.
In a letter posted on the company's Web site, Cook noted that, "with the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short" of the commitment to "make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers," and he promised to improve the product.
Try the Competitors
He said that, in order to provide such features as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps, a new version of Maps had to be created from the ground up. The Maps app, launched with the new version of iOS 6, is currently being used by more than 100 million Apple devices, Cook said, and there have been searches for nearly a half-billion locations.
While the company is busily improving Maps, Cook suggested that users might download other map competitors in the iTunes App Store, including Bing, MacQuest or Waze, or utilize the Web apps from Google or Nokia that are available from those Web sites.
Apple has said it replaced the popular Google app because Google had been updating the Android version of Maps, but not the iOS one. For instance, the iPhone version didn't have turn-by-turn directions or vector-based images, both of which are present on Android.
But there have been many complaints about the Maps app's accuracy, visual information and functions. For instance, there is no public transportation component currently for car, bus or pedestrian routes. Directions cannot be edited, so that, for instance, someone might get directions to a destination and, on the way there, decide to change transportation types midway by getting out of a car to walk.
Some users have also noted that, side by side with Google Maps, there are fewer of such details as small towns on map images or a complete listing of, say, all nearby Target stores. One blogger in the U.K. found that, for The Birmingham Bullring, one of that county's largest shopping centers, only the Apple Store was shown on Apple Maps.
One blogger calculated that, compared with Google Maps, street view has been removed from 41 countries, traffic information from 24 countries, and transit information from 51 countries.
Search functions in the app are also being criticized, in that even large search targets -- say, Canada -- are ending up with "no results found" until Wi-Fi was turned off, for some unknown reason.
Apple's flyover imaging 3D views are getting praise for their visual quality, but not for practicality. Users are comparing it to Google's Street View, which they say was more useful for actually figuring out which building is which when you're moving along a street and trying to locate a particular address.