Join 3,503 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Apple's iOS 6 Maps app
September 19, 2012 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Google makes great maps. But Apple and Google aren't getting along well. So in its new iOS 6, Apple dropped all Google mapping tech in favor of its own Maps app that it promised would "blow your head off". Some people like it. Others don't. But the numbers are that 63 countries with a combined population of 4.5 billion people will lose at least one of the traffic, transit, or street views they had before. And even arch-supporter John Gruber acknowledges " the maps experience in iOS 6 is a downgrade". Google may produce an official Google Maps app for iOS. Then again, they may not.
posted by Egg Shen (576 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
"blow your head off"

Especially if you own Apple stock.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:17 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


It seems fine to me so far.
posted by unSane at 1:18 PM on September 19, 2012


I recently used the Google Maps app while traveling in an unfamiliar city. It was genius to be able to pull up transit schedules and routes directly from the map. It's one of the primary reasons I got an iPad. I'll be avoiding this upgrade if at all possible, if that's not a feature.
posted by odinsdream at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


(Better in many ways, including much better satellite imagery of my region)
posted by unSane at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2012


I was disappointed today when I installed the final version of ios6 that the Maps app was still pretty shoddy. It's very nice looking and smooth, and I do like the turn by turn (though I've come across some inaccuracies in the betas) but the content simply isn't there, and the removal of transit is a real kick in the nuts/ovaries to anyone who lives in (or visits) a major metropolitan area. I sincerely hope Google gets approval for a stand alone app shortly. The rest of iOS6 I'm fine with... though I'm skeptical as to how widespread Passbook adoption will be. I can see the idea, but it will only be useful if it gets a lot of adoption.
posted by modernnomad at 1:20 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Google added new features to the Google Maps app for Android today.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:20 PM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Some sales rep at the Verizon store a month or two ago told me that iOS doesn't do so great with Google Maps in the first place, at least compared to Android. I have no verification of this-- anyone have any idea how true it is (was)?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:21 PM on September 19, 2012


I, for one, am pissed. Live directions and updated public transit information is a bigger selling point for me than playing music or making phone calls. I don't know why Apple decided to do this (and I don't care) but it greatly reduces the utility of the device and makes me far more likely to switch hardware.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:22 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The one and only thing I love about Bing is bird's eye view.
posted by swift at 1:22 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're curious about how much time, effort, and money it will take Apple to replicate the Google Maps experience, this article from the Atlantic might interest you.

I'll quote one sentence: I came away convinced that the geographic data Google has assembled is not likely to be matched by any other company.
posted by exhilaration at 1:22 PM on September 19, 2012 [18 favorites]


Shakespearian -- Google Maps on iOS has never had turn by turn, whereas I am under the impression it has had that feature on Android for a while (though having never owned an Android device I don't know when that happened).
posted by modernnomad at 1:23 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


speaking as a GIS nerd, Google Maps is the best product of its kind by a LONG shot. More detailed maps, better routing, amazing reverse geocoding, frequent updates, etc. Apple isn't lazy for not adding transit directions, it's just that doing it right for dozens and dozens of cities is unbelievably fucking hard
posted by theodolite at 1:23 PM on September 19, 2012 [33 favorites]


Is Dash known to be hostile to Apple? Because this is a fairly devastating thing to say:

But history shows that dominant players in every era of operating system history have reached a turning point where they shift from the user experience and customer benefits which earned them their dominance to platform integration efforts which are primarily aimed at boxing out competitors. It'll be interesting to see which direction Apple's maps follow.

I've read him in the past and I don't remember him being an anti-Apple guy, so are we looking at bias or is that something that knowledgable tech commentators think might be going on?
posted by The Bellman at 1:23 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish I could pick and choose which upgrades to install. I'd like the new Siri functionality and the Passbook, but I do not want the maps AT ALL.
posted by desjardins at 1:25 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


shakespeherian -- I've used both versions and in my experience the Google Maps app on Android is a lot smoother and less clunky than the iOS version.
posted by blucevalo at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2012


What a boner. GMaps' NYC Transit directions is the single most useful thing to me about my iPhone. Holding off on iPhone 5 until I figure out if G will release an app.
posted by meadowlark lime at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding Bing's bird's eye view. What a great feature. I know Google is adding it slowly, but Bing has it everywhere. I'm looking for a new house, out of town, and it's a great help.
posted by JBennett at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mapping data is a lot more complicated these days than it was just a few years ago. Back then NavTeq and Tele Atlus had a duopoly on map data, and everyone from Garmin to Google licensed from either one or the other. Since then both Navteq and Tele Atlus have been bought out by other companies (Nokia and TomTom, respectively), Google has ditched them to create their own mapping system, and now Apple seems to have jumped ship to make their own system as well.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:27 PM on September 19, 2012


Having not used the new version of Maps yet, I still thinking having turn-by-turn navigation would be preferable to the old version with a better database - I can always use Google maps through Safari to look up a location. Of course, I don't think my phone (a 4) gets turn-by-turn, and my 5 (ordered before breakfast on the first day they were available) is still three weeks away.

I do hope Google releases their own app soon, and Apple allows it.

Passbook looks absolutely killer to me though; I'm surprised more people aren't excited about it. Anything that makes the airport simpler is a win.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:27 PM on September 19, 2012


Is Dash known to be hostile to Apple?

No he's really not. Sometimes he can be a gadfly but he's usually pretty "Hey Apple is doing things well" when they are doing things well. He's pragmatic and no one owns him so he can say what he thinks.
posted by jessamyn at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's perfectly understandable that Apple does not want to be at the mercy of its greatest competitor in the mobile space for such an important mobile feature.
posted by gyc at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Dash's experience with searching for businesses/locations in Apple Maps precisely mirrors my own -- I've been sent to the wrong address, but more often than not I just get a "location not found" style message, which I never got under Google Maps on iOS. For all Apple has talked about location services and "knowing where you are", the new Apple Maps seems profoundly clueless as to what I am likely looking for when I use it.
posted by modernnomad at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Used to have an iPhone 4, and when it was stolen I stepped through a Samsung Galaxy S and S II. The turn by turn directions on Android are head and shoulders better compared to the old iOS experience prior to the downgrade, and even better than the Garmin app available for iOS (which the Mrs. is running on her iPhone 4).

Yes, Android is less polished, but there are definitely features provided that are simply better than what's available in iOS. Maps in particular.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 1:29 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Google maps app that's baked in on prior versions of iOS is bangin'. I am not looking forward to the Apple chumpy. In fact, I have no intention of upgrading til I have to. Maps is one of the best and most useful apps I use on my iPhone 4, and I am loathe to move to an inferior product.
posted by Mister_A at 1:29 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some sales rep at the Verizon store a month or two ago told me that iOS doesn't do so great with Google Maps in the first place, at least compared to Android. I have no verification of this-- anyone have any idea how true it is (was)?

At least on an iPad, the Google Maps experience is amazingly simple and awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 1:30 PM on September 19, 2012


speaking as a GIS nerd, Google Maps is the best product of its kind by a LONG shot. More detailed maps, better routing, amazing reverse geocoding, frequent updates, etc. Apple isn't lazy for not adding transit directions, it's just that doing it right for dozens and dozens of cities is unbelievably fucking hard

Where it works, it works great. But you can't use them offline and there are some other problems.

Anyway, I've given up on google maps and have gone almost entirely to Back Country Navigator. But that is not for the weak of heart - a download of the maps for the Blackhills/Badlands section of South Dakota and Wyoming is north of 25gigs to download.

I've also been using CoPilot as my turn by turn GPS. Again, access to maps while offline is the key thing. It's not perfect, but at ~4 bucks and about 3 gigs, it works great.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:30 PM on September 19, 2012


Some sales rep at the Verizon store a month or two ago told me that iOS doesn't do so great with Google Maps in the first place, at least compared to Android.

I have an iPhone, husband has a Droid X. We used the Droid on vacation because it has turn-by-turn and you can cache maps for use offline.

For all my whining about Apple maps, I use Waze for turn-by-turn anyway. But I will severely miss streetview if I upgrade.
posted by desjardins at 1:30 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shakespearian -- Google Maps on iOS has never had turn by turn, whereas I am under the impression it has had that feature on Android for a while (though having never owned an Android device I don't know when that happened).

That part of it is called Google Navigation and it's been in since Andriod 2.0 in 2009.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:31 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Apple is hiring mercenaries, apparently, in its quest to blow your head off. See here.
posted by resurrexit at 1:32 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Read the rest of that Gruber link, though, and the tone of this FPP looks a little hysterical.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:32 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


...platform integration efforts which are primarily aimed at boxing out competitors...
I don't agree that this the primary motivation. Apple is many things and their mileage among people may vary but it's not generally their style to palpably reduce user delight and experience on the cutting edge.

Apple bought those mapping companies years ago and hadn't, up until now, felt compelled to rip out Google maps. Who knows what's going on behind the scenes between two hostile competitors and their licencing and pricing agreements? I have a feeling that Apple may have had to take that feature out of the oven sooner than they would have absolutely preferred...
posted by whittaker at 1:32 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, if I don't upgrade to iOS6, I'd be just fine, right?
posted by vidur at 1:34 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a much nicer-looking app than the tile-based Google maps. The labels are much easier to read for whatever reason. Apple's stock isn't going to be hurt by the lack of transit directions but I'm definitely disappointed about that.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:34 PM on September 19, 2012


I've been using the iOS 6 betas over the summer months, and I've been mostly happy with the new maps functionality. Since the second beta, I haven't noticed any incompatibilities between it and the transit app I use (OneBusAway), the turn-by-turn directions work, the 3D view works, and I somehow doubt that we will never see any improvements or bug fixes coming in the form of software updates. It is unfortunate that tech bloggers feel the need to scrape the bottom of the barrel for anything to complain about and drive click-throughs, nowadays, because there's some interesting stuff here to report on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:34 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's completely ridiculous to lose transit. Apple's proposed alternative: going through a multi-step process of selecting a third-party app to use (if one is even available, which it isn't yet for most areas), launching it, and having it render its directions—which are going to be inferior to Google's transit directions 90% of the time —in a separate UI with no consistency with the rest of the mapping on the phone. That is just total bullshit.

My theory is that Apple's engineers—who presumably mostly get around by driving and live in the suburbs—see transit directions as a novelty feature and do not realize how much daily use it gets by those of us who live in cities with reliable transit (or how many of us there are).

I hate the whole feel of Android and I really do not want to switch but if the transit directions situation doesn't improve in some way I will not have a choice. I've tried all the third-party transit direction apps and they are universally awful for Chicago right now.
posted by enn at 1:34 PM on September 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


I have an iOS device and an Android device. Even before this update, Maps on Android was glorious (full turn by turn directions) while the presumably Gimped-at-Apple's-request Google maps on iOS was a feature-lacking, pretender (the only positive it had over its brother was the "turn the page" UI to see other map layers).

Apple does hardware and apps right, and shopping too. But the kind of infrastructure (servers, data harvesting, cars with cameras wardriving around, plus the kludges ... I mean technical insights to deal with the noise in source data on every level) and integration (with each major regional transit network for schedules and traffic alerts) needed for a good, modern map application? It's far, far outside what they do well.

Absent Apple transforming itself more dramatically than when they brought the NeXT team in, I predict their map effort will be a clear failure in 18 months. It's hard for me to see this as anything other than an unsustainable strategic move to deny Google users and data, rather than something that will improve the user experience.
posted by zippy at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Additionally: If Apple knows what's good for it, it'll immediately capitalize on the analytics data of 100 milllion plus sudden iOS 6 users and work around the clock to continuously iterate an increasingly better experience on the back end.

That style and cycle of development is pretty antithetical to their 'milestone cathedral' release pattern so we'll see what happens...
posted by whittaker at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Transit is a big deal fir me, so gere's hoping for a google map app not blocked by any dick moves.
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate the whole feel of Android

4.1 is really quite nice. They have finally arrived at something useful.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:41 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The argument that the Apple-o-sphere seems to be lining up is that at some point, your maps app only gets better when you have real people out there using it. The Apple and Google Maps relationship was apparently ending at the end of this year; they had to do something.

My concern is Apple's ability to synthesize and integrate the feedback they do get from all the user devices out there.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:41 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Yeah, getting transit directions is one of the main things I use my iPhone for. Here's hoping...
posted by brundlefly at 1:43 PM on September 19, 2012


Google may produce an official Google Maps app for iOS. Then again, they may not.

Google will probably release an app, if only because their shareholders will demand one. iOS helps Google make money, making up 80 percent of its mobile income and 2 percent of the company's overall take. Despite the advice of bloggers, that's a lot of money to leave on the table, let alone give to your competitor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Development on HopStop has temporarily ceased as most of the company is in the hospital due to high-five-related injuries.
posted by griphus at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


There was a great blog called 41Latitude that ran for about 6 months in 2011, posting incredibly in-depth comparisons of Google and Bing Maps, focusing on all kinds of awesome nitpicky cartographic details like place name density, road line width, POI indicators, etc. The entire blog mysteriously vanished from the internet one day and the going rumor was that he was hired by Apple for their new maps product. Funny thing is, going by the screenshots I've seen it looked like they took the exact opposite of all of his advice.
posted by theodolite at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everyone saying they're gonna dump their iphones/not upgrade... y'all know you can use google maps via safari right? Like today? It helpfully even pops up a little bubble about how you can install it as a web app by saving it to your home screen...
posted by danny the boy at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


This:
It is unfortunate that tech bloggers feel the need to scrape the bottom of the barrel for anything to complain about and drive click-throughs, nowadays, because there's some interesting stuff here to report on.

makes for an entertaining contrast with this:

He's pragmatic and no one owns him so he can say what he thinks.
posted by asterix at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


My favorite thing about having a smartphone was the deep integration of turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Hopefully this leads to Apple having the same level of baked-in-mapness that Android does (does Siri do turn-by-turn directions?), although growing pains are, as always, a bitch.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would be extremely surprised if Google doesn't release an iPhone app for their maps service (having already demonstrated an intention to do so for iPad) Why give up on all that data?

Whether it's called 'Google maps' or is simply an update to their standalone Google earth app, that remains to be seen.

Competition is good. If this move hadn't been made, iPhone users would likely still be languishing with a frozen maps feature set a year from now.

Of course, it sucks in the short term while
a) Apple improves the data.
b)Google hasn't released its third party app (a la YouTube), and
c)Routing-passthrough support on transit apps remains scant.
posted by whittaker at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The no transit thing is so fucking ridiculous. Probably the #1 feature of the iPhone for anyone who lives in a decent sized city. I have friends who line up for every apple product who are skipping this one because of that, I know there is no way in hell I am buying one even though my current iPhone needs to be replaced.
posted by bradbane at 1:48 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Read the rest of that Gruber link, though

Which includes "What if Google doesn’t ever release a Google Maps app, to paint iOS as the platform with crappy maps?"

"Hysterical" indeed.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:48 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mentioned this in the recent AskMe on this very subject, but I still can't manage to get the browser version of Google Maps working on Safari. Instead I get redirected to a Google Search Places mobile page. Is there something in settings I need to toggle?

I don't see the Apple maps' lack of detail to be much of an issue for those that use cars or drive themselves around. I just wish Apple had more of an inclusive mindset to realize that not everybody drives.
posted by CancerMan at 1:49 PM on September 19, 2012


HopStop doesn't know nearly as many business names as ... well, any other mapping service I know of. Unless you get lucky and are traveling to one of the few it does know, you have to know the specific street address of your destination.
posted by enn at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2012


Also, is the speculation that Google won't release a maps app really justified? I mean, Apple has just carved a giant hole into iOS that says "INSERT GOOGLE MAPS APP HERE." Of all things Google can be motivated by, I can't imagine spite is one of them.
posted by griphus at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


We used the iOS6 beta mapping on a trip this summer, but it was a driving trip, not a transit trip. I thought it was great but I can see being annoyed if I ever used the transit feature. The walking feature is what I'll miss on vacation; here's hoping they rebuild it with their own data next year.
posted by immlass at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2012


Oh, yeah, HopStop is nothing close to an actual maps replacement, but it's good for transit directions (better than Google Maps in NYC.)
posted by griphus at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2012


I've installed iOS 6 and its (marginally) nicer but the loss of public transport information in maps is horrible. I don't drive, use the bus / train all the time and not having this on the maps app is a real loss.

There isn't a good uk alternative - the national rail app has rail information, next bus and bus checker have the bus info but they do do directions and they don't link bus and train.

What's ridiculous is that all the necessary information exists in a single place - transport direct does really good point to point public transport directions. It's government owned and has (as far as I can tell) uk wide bus and train schedules.

But it has no app front end and the web interface is relatively user unfriendly and isn't location aware. I'd pay good money for an iPhone app that was just a front end to the transport direct directions.
posted by Gilgongo at 1:51 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, is the speculation that Google won't release a maps app really justified?
Seems very plausible to me. Windows Phone, for instance, hasn't received an official GMaps app, even though Windows Mobile used to have one. Google could absolutely make this a differentiator to push people towards Android devices.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:53 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


y'all know you can use google maps via safari right?

Slower, no street view, doesn't look up your contacts.
posted by desjardins at 1:55 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've read him in the past and I don't remember him being an anti-Apple guy, so are we looking at bias or is that something that knowledgable tech commentators think might be going on?

Yep, this is the new new thought on apple. Or really the old new thought since people have always said it to some extent.

I don't think it is just whining just to get clicks, they could kick Microsoft for that.

I think it might be the bloom is gone from the rose for many converts. We see it with all technology as people start to rub up against the edge cases, and pain-points they were happy to ignore when the OS was fresh and new begin to grate on them to a greater and greater extent. Technology becomes a victim of its own success.

You want to see a laundry list of complaintes, check Everything's broken and nobody's upset/

Hanselman isn't just targeting Apple, he gets a couple good whacks in on MS too.

People talk like linux is a complete POS now. It used to be the greatest and now people consider it barely usable despite the massive strides they made since people first conceived the idea of "linux on the desktop".

Guys who spent the last 15 years working on Linux software are going around writing articles about how Linux is the worst thing ever made. Practically challenging Linus to a duel.

It is a strage state of affairs when people start seeming like they really dislike their advocation.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:56 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I loathe Apple's new maps. Even the original Google-based tile maps sucked. Have you ever tried to read those fuckers in the sun? It is like no one understands the use and utility of contrast in the creation of maps. I want to see the ROADS! But they're faint light grey lines on a yellow background. The new app is fucking useless: it shows dark green blotches (parks) on a sea of vaguely mottled yellow. I hate it. Hate it! And losing transit is even worse!

I am confident they are throwing millions of dollars at this, but it would be nice if they had a "high contrast" switch on their fucking maps app so it could be READ IN THE SUN.

ASSHOLES.

i may be a GIS nerd who is a little upset by this
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:56 PM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


modernnomad: "Shakespearian -- Google Maps on iOS has never had turn by turn, whereas I am under the impression it has had that feature on Android for a while (though having never owned an Android device I don't know when that happened)."

It's had it for a long time on android. At least two years. I've used the Maps/Navigator apps on my phones for a year and a half instead of buying a GPS receiver.

Burhanistan: "4.1 is really quite nice. They have finally arrived at something useful."

Worth noting that the brand of hardware you're using also changes your experience. Certain phones have their own brand-specific software overlays, whose interfaces change how Android feels and operates. HTC has Sense. Samsung has multiple versions (TWLauncher and others) depending on which phone/tablet you're using. You can also buy generic ones in the Play store, like GoEx. I'm still using 2.3 on an HTC phone with Sense, and it's quite good. Quick and responsive.
posted by zarq at 1:57 PM on September 19, 2012


The Lumatic City Maps app seems like it could be a reasonable pedestrian/transit-oriented alternative to the Apple Maps directions—it knows a lot of places, its directions are presented in a really clear fashion—but unfortunately the actual transit route-finding is really bad, at least here in Chicago. It'll tell me to take a bus when there is a train that runs parallel to the bus 50 yards away that is faster and more frequent.
posted by enn at 1:58 PM on September 19, 2012


Gilgongo: I would suggest Launching Safari, going to 'maps.google.com' and following the 'save to home-screen' instructions and voila: you have a quickly launch-able, web-based Google maps app that does do Transit directions and is location aware.

desjardins: I don't think anybody is saying it's a perfect replacement forever but--for the people who feel that iOS is losing ability to look up transit directions on the go--this should absolutely do until Google releases their own CocoaTouch app.
posted by whittaker at 1:59 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not an expert in these matters, but I think Windows Phone doesn't have a maps app because developing for an OS with a 3.8% market share is a wasted effort.
posted by griphus at 1:59 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the biggest point of many apps, other than having a company's product front-of-mind for a smartphone user, was to provide web content formatted for a PC (in the inclusive sense) in a format that a smartphone could handle, "translating" it so it could be used comfortably on a phone.

Since the browser version of Google Maps is now adaptive to the medium used to access it, it's not as big of a deal as it was in the past to just visit the browser version - AND the browser version is updated constantly, whereas the Google Maps app was pretty static except for an occasional update when a new iOS was released. And, as a cyclist, I always found the Google Maps app to be outdated because cycling directions weren't available on it, which was not so useful when I was stuck somewhere that I didn't know the nearby bike routes, but with the browser it's part of the functionality.

But seriously, Apple, the transit thing was like the MOST USEFUL aspect of the maps app as it aggregated all of the crap transit websites into something that was usable, particularly important when you were in an unfamiliar city and didn't really have a local's knowledge of the transit system.
posted by urbanlenny at 2:00 PM on September 19, 2012


One technical advantage that Apple's maps have over the Google-sourced maps is that they are vector-based, not tiles of bitmaps sent over the wire. So if your network connection goes out, you can still zoom in and move around on cached data, and the device can still render a map. While there isn't as much drama in reporting neat features, these things remain interesting from a technical and design standpoint.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


(this is sort of off topic, but drives me crazy - check out the "transit" layer on the browser version of Google Maps for any major city. San Francisco? Nice color coded BART lines - blue, green, red, all the same colors you see on any transit map. Easy to tell apart. Same in New York, Boston, etc. Chicago? ALL PURPLE. And the L lines are actually named after their colors here!)
posted by theodolite at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


iOS 6 is very ho-hum. The change in maps is a downgrade for now, as is the ability to integration Facebook with the iPhone. Did you know it adds your Facebook friends to the Contact App. Thank you, but no fucking way.

But whee, I can take panoramas! But not 360 degree panoramas. At least I was able to make my wife a VIP in the mail app. Great, now she'll be wanting special alone time or something.

The most useful feature is for the phone, oddly enough. It lets you send phonecall to voice with a quick message such as "Can't talk now" and will remind you to call the person back in an hour.

I have no idea what Passbook is for and seemingly neither does Apple.

This upgrade is so depressing, I'm gonna go use a laptop.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not an expert in these matters, but I think Windows Phone doesn't have a maps app because developing for an OS with a 3.8% market share is a wasted effort.

It is pretty sad. I half think that it is such an app desert that I could put stock ticker apps, and task lists, and notes apps up and rake in money. But it all seems so dull I don't even have the dev environment set up. I could write Windows Phone apps at the rate of maybe 1 per hour. It is sad I don't even bother.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whittaker - thank you. I don't know why I didn't think of that. It's a good solution.
posted by Gilgongo at 2:06 PM on September 19, 2012


If I remember correctly, when Google announced their version of 3D buildings, they demonstrated it on an iPad, and said something about it being released for iOS. Unless there are issues getting it through the App Store approval process (which seems to be the case with the update to their search app, which is supposed to include voice search), I'm pretty certain Google will release a maps app.
posted by jessssse at 2:08 PM on September 19, 2012


I'm not an expert in these matters, but I think Windows Phone doesn't have a maps app because developing for an OS with a 3.8% market share is a wasted effort.

I've heard rumor that Microsoft has some top secret projects code named: "Bing Maps" and "Nokia Maps" in the works. But you know how internet rumors are...
posted by MikeMc at 2:09 PM on September 19, 2012


Here is more info about the Google search app approval, or lack thereof.
posted by jessssse at 2:11 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


One technical advantage that Apple's maps have over the Google-sourced maps is that they are vector-based, not tiles of bitmaps sent over the wire. So if your network connection goes out, you can still zoom in and move around on cached data, and the device can still render a map. While there isn't as much drama in reporting neat features, these things remain interesting from a technical and design standpoint.

Yeah, I do like the vector redesign. It's very smooth and zooming in and out is a lot more fluid than it was under Google Maps. It's not enough to counterbalance the lost functionality and content in my view, but it terms of panning/zooming/swiping/etc, the new Apple Maps definitely is better to operate.
posted by modernnomad at 2:12 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I remember correctly, when Google announced their version of 3D buildings, they demonstrated it on an iPad

Android tablet (Samsung Galaxy 10.1, I think).
posted by Burhanistan at 2:15 PM on September 19, 2012


If I remember correctly, when Google announced their version of 3D buildings, they demonstrated it on an iPad

Android tablet (Samsung Galaxy 10.1, I think).


There's a patent joke in there somewhere...
posted by MikeMc at 2:17 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I haven't updated to iOS6 yet, but I'm wondering if there's a way to extract the old Google-based Maps app from an old backup and force it onto the new system.
posted by adamrice at 2:20 PM on September 19, 2012


If I remember correctly, when Google announced their version of 3D buildings, they demonstrated it on an iPad

Android tablet (Samsung Galaxy 10.1, I think).


Ah, I was thinking of the 3D buildings in Google Earth. Definitely an iPad for that.
posted by jessssse at 2:22 PM on September 19, 2012


iOS 6 may be great for some people, but it's a disaster for me for two reasons. This is one of them.

For me, the central value add of the Maps app is the transit data. That's a tremendous leap forward from perusing bus schedules - it's not really possible to express how much this changes city life. It's massive. And it's one of the things computers were built for - to solve these little logistical problems we have every day. To flat out remove a feature that millions of users find worthwhile simply because you have a rift with a partner company -

Well, obviously Apple disagrees with me when I say that millions of people use that feature. Presumably they've checked.

The other thing that pisses me off about iOS 6 is the removal of the standard Youtube app. Yes, video plays just fine in mobile Safari. Yes, Google made their own Youtube app. You know what none of these things help you do? Publish video. Whereas once upon a time there was a button you could push in the viewer to just send a video to Youtube and publish it immediately, now there's going to need to be some complicated app that integrates itself somehow, and you'll have to switch gears and everything. And that's once somebody makes an app to do this. Maybe somebody has already, but I haven't seen it. This destroys the easy publishability of video on the iPhone, and it's kind of disappointing that Apple didn't see fit to replace that function with anything else.

So, yeah. Not upgrading to iOS 6. Sorry, Apple.
posted by koeselitz at 2:22 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


And, judging from Twitter, #ios6pocalypse is trending as people fall all over themselves to post bizarre and broken images from the Apple Maps application.

I'm with Drew at TechCrunch. Google shouldn't release a Google Maps application for iOS. Or, if they do, they should sit on it for the next 6 months.

That's the petty and vindictive side of me, though. Probably not a strong business acumen there.
posted by kbanas at 2:22 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I haven't updated to iOS6 yet, but I'm wondering if there's a way to extract the old Google-based Maps app from an old backup and force it onto the new system.


Try that and get back to me.
posted by kbanas at 2:23 PM on September 19, 2012


I am probably in the 0.001% for whom no Google Street View - dealbreaker. I won't be upgrading to iOS 6 (but that's mostly because I don't have the extra 2.5 GB available. I mean, seriously, what the fuck?).
posted by mattbucher at 2:24 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is more info about the Google search app approval, or lack thereof
Not only does Voice Search have the potential to outshine Siri on Apple's own grounds
I have used Google Voice 'Search' (which attempts to do a lot more than search. If it outshines Siri, then those Siri commercials are potentially criminally misleading. Voice search recognizes maybe 2 names out of 5 on my contact list, and I have given up on actually trying to get search terms to be recognized. Oddly enough, mapping from voice is less of a problem.
posted by muddgirl at 2:25 PM on September 19, 2012


I've just moved to Chicago and I completely love Google Map's transit directions. That alone is worth the cost of my android phone. I've never been happier that I avoid being Apple's walled garden.
posted by srboisvert at 2:26 PM on September 19, 2012


You know what none of these things help you do? Publish video.

I just upgraded to iOS6 and the videos on the camera roll have a publish to youtube option. I never did this on iOS5 so I don't know if it's different from how you used to be able to do it.
posted by aubilenon at 2:30 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The requisite space for installation is temporary. I freed up 2.5 G on my 4S and it is still there afterward.

The map data does seem to really, really stink. With Google, it was almost as if a local had filled in the nuances and details of the area. TomTom's database looks like they used data translated into Chinese and back and it's five years old to boot.

I'm willing to hang in there but this is, for now, an utter travesty.
posted by docpops at 2:31 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


a few years ago google maps was ported to every obscure platform on the planet. windows mobile 5, j2me, you name it. how things have changed
posted by Yowser at 2:31 PM on September 19, 2012


With Google, it was almost as if a local had filled in the nuances and details of the area.

You're closer than you think
posted by theodolite at 2:33 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Theodolite - thanks. That is quite interesting.
posted by docpops at 2:35 PM on September 19, 2012


The most useful feature is for the phone, oddly enough. It lets you send phonecall to voice with a quick message such as "Can't talk now" and will remind you to call the person back in an hour.

iOS is seriously just getting this now?
posted by Cosine at 2:35 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, if I don't upgrade to iOS6, I'd be just fine, right?

I can't imagine why anyone would upgrade if they remotely care about the transit stuff. I think it's inferior in other ways too; my experience mirrors Dash's and I use the app that way to find things near me (coffee, groceries, burger, whatever) all the time. Unless you have a 4S you don't get panoramas. Do not disturb might be useful to a small group of people in a way the off/silent switches aren't. VIP is cute I guess.

Justifying the downgrade w/ turn by turn boggles my mind. There were plenty of aftermarket choices that do a better job, I think, as well as keep local copies of the maps. If I could get a 5 with ios5 on it I'd be tickled pink.
posted by phearlez at 2:37 PM on September 19, 2012


iOS is seriously just getting this now?

Yes, before it was only jokingly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:38 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Google could drop iSupport for Maps, but you can bet they'd keep a team around to maintain the codebase and keep it ready for re-launch just in case their strategy doesn't work, so I'd say there's little chance of them dropping iSupport for Maps until/unless Android reaches market dominance.
posted by davejay at 2:38 PM on September 19, 2012


With Google, it was almost as if a local had filled in the nuances and details of the area.

They absolutely are. I've made changes to Google Maps from my phone. Corrections get reviewed fairly quickly---I've seen the change go live in a day or so. Really nice for walking or cycling directions which they can't do with their cars.
posted by bonehead at 2:38 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I could get a 5 with ios5 on it I'd be tickled pink.

Maybe Apple can do that Microsoft thing and sell downgrade rights.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:39 PM on September 19, 2012


aubilenon: “I just upgraded to iOS6 and the videos on the camera roll have a publish to youtube option. I never did this on iOS5 so I don't know if it's different from how you used to be able to do it.”

Every account I've read says that that button now does nothing. I would be thrilled if those were proven wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 2:39 PM on September 19, 2012


The most useful feature is for the phone, oddly enough. It lets you send phonecall to voice with a quick message such as "Can't talk now" and will remind you to call the person back in an hour.

iOS is seriously just getting this now?


Wow. My G1 could do that literally three and a half years ago.
posted by kafziel at 2:43 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, on a different note, there are a shit-ton of new emoji icons for the ten-year-old texter in us all...
posted by docpops at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Where it works, it works great. But you can't use them [maps] offline and there are some other problems.

The Android version of Maps also has an option (as of Maps 5.0) for caching maps locally. I have not torture tested the amount of caching (no idea if local businesses are cached), but it was fine for a trip to the Sierras with no data coverage.
posted by benzenedream at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate the whole feel of Android

4.1 is really quite nice. They have finally arrived at something useful.


I can't tell if this is a joke or not. I'm still on 2.2. It works fairly wonderfully. (Like 2.2) I've had turn-by-turn directions for years.

Don't all you iPhone users have NextBus (NYC MTA does, right?), or public Web sites like 511.org or m.BART.gov? I don't understand the appeal of transit directions on Google Maps, but maybe it's b/c I have alternative options...
posted by mrgrimm at 2:46 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Apple maps is basically useless to me right now because I'm not in America. I'm in puerto viejo Costa Rica right now, and while google has the whole town mapped, including the hostel I'm staying in, the apple version doesn't even have the town on the map, let alone all the markets and restaurants that google does. I don't see how apple catches up without investing a lot more money into the mapping business.
posted by empath at 2:46 PM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


(this is sort of off topic, but drives me crazy - check out the "transit" layer on the browser version of Google Maps for any major city. San Francisco? Nice color coded BART lines - blue, green, red, all the same colors you see on any transit map. Easy to tell apart. Same in New York, Boston, etc. Chicago? ALL PURPLE. And the L lines are actually named after their colors here!)

Wow, you're right. That's really stupid. I guess I'd sort of noticed that the Chicago transit lines aren't colored but since I haven't yet used the transit maps in other cities I didn't realize others had them. They really need to fix that.
posted by dnash at 2:47 PM on September 19, 2012


Every account I've read says that that button now does nothing. I would be thrilled if those were proven wrong.

It works fine. You film the video, you tap the export button, you tap the YouTube button.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:49 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Awesome. That's great to hear, Blazecock. Now I just wait for somebody to make a good Maps app, and I'll be happy to upgrade.
posted by koeselitz at 2:51 PM on September 19, 2012


The most useful feature is for the phone, oddly enough. It lets you send phonecall to voice with a quick message such as "Can't talk now" and will remind you to call the person back in an hour.

I've never seen the big appeal of the texting reply. It requires me to know if someone is calling from a text-capable phone and (more importantly) requires my circumstance to be too serious to say "sorry, have to take this" but not so serious I can't poke at my phone beyond pressing the silence button.

The reminder is nice.
posted by phearlez at 2:55 PM on September 19, 2012


speaking as a GIS nerd, Google Maps is the best product of its kind by a LONG shot. More detailed maps, better routing, amazing reverse geocoding, frequent updates, etc.

You think so, really?
I find google navigator routing to be simplistic and far too focused on "the shortest distance" rather than "the best way".
The routing options themselves (avoid ferrys/avoid major roads/use only highways/etc) still haven't caught up to my old Streets and Trips or Rand McNally.

It's main advantage is the fact that it's right there in your pocket and I'm still waiting for google to realize the potential of that.
Why, for instance, can it not learn that I _never_ turn left out of my road while heading for the highway? Why does it not realize that, when I search for a grocery store, I want a Kroger not a Piggly Wiggly?

For all the cool connectedness, google navigator is kinda dumb.

(And don't even get me started on the crap map display. heh.)
posted by madajb at 2:56 PM on September 19, 2012


Uh, does everybody know about maps.google.com? If not, you're welcome, and you can untwist your knickers now.
posted by mullingitover at 2:59 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My theory is that Apple's engineers—who presumably mostly get around by driving and live in the suburbs

Cupertino is the suburbs, but a large portion of Apple employees live in San Francisco and take company shuttles down to work.
posted by zsazsa at 2:59 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never seen the big appeal of the texting reply. It requires me to know if someone is calling from a text-capable phone and (more importantly) requires my circumstance to be too serious to say "sorry, have to take this" but not so serious I can't poke at my phone beyond pressing the silence button.

I don't have an iphone so I don't know, but can you not mark contact phone numbers with work/mobile/home/etc?
In my android phone, the "text and send to voicemail" option only shows up for numbers marked "mobile".

I don't use it that often, but it is handy sometimes to send "I'll call you back in 5 minutes" to someone just by tapping a button.
posted by madajb at 3:00 PM on September 19, 2012


One technical advantage that Apple's maps have over the Google-sourced maps is that they are vector-based, not tiles of bitmaps sent over the wire. So if your network connection goes out, you can still zoom in and move around on cached data, and the device can still render a map. While there isn't as much drama in reporting neat features, these things remain interesting from a technical and design standpoint.

In case anyone was wondering, the Android version of Google Maps switched to vector graphics about 2 years ago.
posted by VoteBrian at 3:02 PM on September 19, 2012 [28 favorites]


The wonderful folks at OpenPlans is producing a transit app for North America (I backed it on kickstarter).

I think Google maps is amazing, but I also think OpenStreetMap (OSM) is amazing too. I've been surprised that it is not discussed more in the popular press as people heap praises on Google maps. Long term, I think OSM will win. They (and users of their data) will be able to do everything that Google can do (minus street view) and there are lots of people using the data. Just as an example, you can download the entire globe in vector format in <60 minutes. I have one of my own sitting on my desktop and can pull out a vector extract for anywhere that I want in the world. Sure, in unpopulated remote places it's not very detailed but neither is Google's.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:02 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's not that I don't think these things are problems, but it amuses me sometimes, being in my early 30s and looking at the world and seeing people complain that an object slightly larger than the palm of their hand, plugged into nothing, should be able to understand their driving styles, preference in grocery stores, etc. I was reading a bit earlier complaining about how Siri, basically, is not an actual functioning human being who totally gets what you mean, that it's too literal.

I still remember not owning a microwave. I think this is a downgrade and it's dumb and there's more intuitive software out there, and even Google's not perfect, it just seems like this is just such an amazing example of how yeah, we really are living in the future, now, we just didn't notice because of the lack of jetpacks.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:04 PM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Uh, does everybody know about maps.google.com? If not, you're welcome, and you can untwist your knickers now.

I do know about it, but I seem to be the only one who can't get it to work in Safari (see my comment above). Maybe I need to untwist first, before trying...
posted by CancerMan at 3:04 PM on September 19, 2012


Alright, this here oligopolistic competition is getting juicy! Any ideas for a Google vs. Apple reality TV show?
posted by notswedish at 3:04 PM on September 19, 2012


> I can't tell if this is a joke or not. I'm still on 2.2. It works fairly wonderfully. (Like 2.2) I've had turn-by-turn directions for years.

Not at all a joke, though certainly a derail. I've had many Android phones since 2.2 and can say that 4.1 (or 4.0.x) is really the only one that I'd want to use going forward. The hardware acceleration and other polishing makes a world of difference and put it next to iOS. Having all the extra benefits of Maps and application integration that has been part of Android isn't really what I meant, so sorry for any derail.

I actually had to switch to an iPhone 4s (and a 5 arriving soon!) from a Galaxy Nexus due to company restrictions, and it was like putting on a straight jacket.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Uh, does everybody know about maps.google.com? If not, you're welcome, and you can untwist your knickers now.

It's garbage compared to the old app. Slow and clunky.
posted by empath at 3:10 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I guess the reason I don't own a smartphone and probably won't for the next ten years is so I don't have to deal with the tech soap opera.
posted by deo rei at 3:10 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not that I don't think these things are problems, but it amuses me sometimes, being in my early 30s and looking at the world and seeing people complain that an object slightly larger than the palm of their hand, plugged into nothing, should be able to understand their driving styles, preference in grocery stores, etc.

Believe me, I recognize the absurdity of it.
But at the same time, shouldn't my wizbang, handheld, always connected supercomputer be just a little smarter than my 10 year old dashmount gps?
posted by madajb at 3:14 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


so I don't have to deal with the tech soap opera.

It's a personality thing and often comes along with anything that has its good and bad points. If it wasn't your smart phone it would be your car. If it wasn't your car it would be your dog/cat. If it wasn't your pet it would be your neighbors. If it wasn't your neighbors it would be your politicians. Some people are optimizers and some are satisficers and many smart people have good ideas about how to do things that are often at odds with how big corporations decide to do them. And sometimes a bunch of people all saying "That was a bad decision" can change things; and sometimes just knowing a lot of other people have your same problems can be comforting. Wars have been fought over less, marriages have been forged over less. You can have a smartphone without the soap opera if you are the type of person whose life isn't a soap opera.

And yeah maps.google.com is a different beast than the app, very different. The blue dot really changed my whole way of interacting with the often-confusing urban landscape and this is the sort of thing that might inspire me to consider switching. It's no drama, just a shopping choice.
posted by jessamyn at 3:17 PM on September 19, 2012 [20 favorites]


You know what's weird, I am a rabid user of my iPad, GMaps, and public transit, but I virtually never use GMaps for transit, I always go to NextBus or the MBTA website, which by MBTA standards is astonishingly competent. I still think I'm going to hold off on the update, though, based on what I'm hearing about Maps.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:17 PM on September 19, 2012


One technical advantage that Apple's maps have over the Google-sourced maps is that they are vector-based, not tiles of bitmaps sent over the wire.

So is Maps on Android. I'm sure a deal could have been done.
posted by Space_Lady at 3:25 PM on September 19, 2012


I have an iPhone and a xoom (WiFi only). I have, on occasion resorted to making my phone a hotspot and running Google navigator on the tablet. This is a preposterous thing to do, but it yields a better result than anything that comes with the iPhone. I may wind up still doing that with iOS 6.
posted by Karmakaze at 3:26 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think Google will license the vector versions of their maps, only image tiles.
posted by The Lamplighter at 3:58 PM on September 19, 2012


I've never had a lot of luck with Google's transit maps (just tried routing from one DC metro station to another and it suggested that I take a bus to a spot a half mile from the ending metro station, then walk to it).

These things are incredibly hard. Cities all format their data differently and some actually charge for it. There's also the challenge of integrating real-time arrival information.
posted by The Lamplighter at 3:59 PM on September 19, 2012


The Google and The iPhone should be friends
The Google and the iPhone should be friends
Google likes to search for free, iPhone hosts that app Siri
But that's no reason why they can't be friends.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:00 PM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Here's a second vote for the Lumatics City App. It's easy to use, which is not always the case for these types of apps.

It doesn't look like it integrates real time arrival information for buses, unfortunately. The Next Bus app does that but it's otherwise not so great.
posted by The Lamplighter at 4:05 PM on September 19, 2012


Why am I so stupid? I knew the maps were terrible. Several people told me the maps were terrible. And yet I still upgraded, and now I have a map system that is missing entire London tube stations.

That they've left the public transport button in, only to have it take you to a list of non-functional external apps, is insult to injury. Oh, and no caching for offline use either. If this isn't fixed by the time my contract comes up, I'm over to Android in a flash.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:06 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


But you can't use them offline and there are some other problems.

I don't know what the "other problems" are, but you can certainly use Google Maps (yes, vector-based) offline. On my Android phone, I save county-sized areas for offline use and then use them when I have no net connectivity. I've used Google Maps to navigate in forests far away from any cell tower.
posted by grouse at 4:18 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man, for all of you threatening to switch to android, you'll be in for a treat. Unlike Apple, which releases OS updates and then you can install them, you'll never have this problem on android. Unless you purchase an official Google device you can rest easy knowing that you'll never get an OS update that'll change things. Emphasis on you'll never get an OS update.
posted by mullingitover at 4:19 PM on September 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


Also, regarding maps/navigation on android...

Fucked-up/broken GPS in android is a major part of why I'm never going back. That shit was infuriating given that it was the primary reason for going to android in the first place.
posted by mullingitover at 4:27 PM on September 19, 2012


read this thread, updated anyway. now my iPhone won't connect to my wifi network.

(ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:28 PM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Unless you purchase an official Google device you can rest easy knowing that you'll never get an OS update that'll change things.

The original Droid that was release 3 years ago won't get any more OS updates, but it still has (and always had) turn-by-turn navigation. How many iPhones/iPads will get that update? Along with most other Android phones, it got offline maps, bus routes, bike trails, and whatever else comes along with the steady stream of app updates that don't require the latest OS.

Just because the iPhone 4 got a version number update doesn't mean it'll get (or will ever get) all the functionality of iOS6.
posted by VoteBrian at 4:30 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I just updated my iPad v3 to iOS 6 and it won't connect to any WiFi network either.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 4:33 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


now my iPhone won't connect to my wifi network.

yeah, i just noticed mine is not connecting to wifi either. Apparently not an isolated problem, see here and here. Argh.
posted by modernnomad at 4:35 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


VoteBrian: "How many iPhones/iPads will get that update?"

Eh, you can download Waze (which is awesome btw, and I'm probably going to keep using it even though there's a built-in GPS app now) on the older phones. There are several other free, quality GPS apps to choose from. That's the other thing that I didn't experience with android: an embarrassment of wealth in quality app choices.
posted by mullingitover at 4:35 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah the maps are really useless without WiFi access.

Follow the thread on Apples support page.


Something is highly borked
posted by MrBobaFett at 4:35 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, regarding maps/navigation on android...

Fucked-up/broken GPS in android is a major part of why I'm never going back. That shit was infuriating given that it was the primary reason for going to android in the first place.


You realize that your link is to an article that is, essentially, "This latest update for one phone has a slight glitch in it, here's how you trivially fix it in five seconds"?
posted by kafziel at 4:37 PM on September 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


The blue dot really changed my whole way of interacting with the often-confusing urban landscape

Yes, this is exactly why this change is so frustrating. Having reliable maps with transit routing on my person at all times completely changed how I get around and made much more of the city accessible to me. Before I had an iPhone, it was far rarer for me to leave the neighborhoods I already know well.

When I did go to parts of the city where I don't really know the train and bus lines, I'd look up a route in advance on my desktop and try to remember the directions. There was no flexibility once I was on my way. I went there and then I came back, and if I ever deviated from my planned route, it was because I had several hours free and didn't mind getting completely lost.

But most of the time I didn't bother doing any of that—I just limited myself to the small subset of the city where I know the streets and the transit intimately. And I missed out on a lot of cool shit.

Now, I can be running an errand in Humboldt Park (where I don't spend much time and where I don't know the buses or even the streets very well) and think, hey, isn't that famous cemitas place around here somewhere? And in 30 seconds I can know how far it is out of my way and how it will alter my route and what bus I'll need to take home and whether it's still running, without even having to remember the full name of the restaurant.

That's not even getting into how useful the transit directions are in totally unfamiliar cities. I hear that the Google transit directions in NYC are considered sub-par but when I visited earlier this year, knowing no one there and having only the vaguest sense of the city's geography, they were invaluable.

And now Apple is going to make all of that a lot slower and more painful—an extra minute of clicking through all the clunky stuff to pull up some third-party routing thing is a long time when you're standing on the corner trying to figure out if the approaching bus is the right one or not. It sucks to think of going back. It's a lot more of a big deal in terms of how it affects my life than not having a microwave (I haven't had one in years and almost never miss it, ymmv).
posted by enn at 4:40 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh man, for all of you threatening to switch to android, you'll be in for a treat. Unlike Apple, which releases OS updates and then you can install them, you'll never have this problem on android. Unless you purchase an official Google device you can rest easy knowing that you'll never get an OS update that'll change things. Emphasis on you'll never get an OS update.

This a huge, glaring problem with Android. It is THE problem with Android, which is, like, DUH - and it's been the problem for years now, and no one seems to want to solve it.

I do not doubt for one second that if every phone that could run Android 4.1 was currently doing so, there wouldn't even be an argument about this bullshit, because everyone would just buy an Android handset.

But no. You've got shit running 2.2 and 2.3 and 4.0 and the bloat on top - my GOD - Sense, TOUCHWIZ - burn it all with fire.

So, to that end, I rooted my phone and installed a custom ROM (and then another and another and another) and I've been blissfully happy. But obviously not everyone can do that, and no one should have to do it.
posted by kbanas at 4:41 PM on September 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Ok, Siri has been directing all over town this evening. Meh, but I've been using paper maps for years, due to AT&T having crappy service in on the backroads of Georgia. Even Verizon wasn't perfect, but they were better than AT&T.


Siri knowing more about sports, movies and restaurants is pretty handy though. It knew who starred in this movie or directed that one or the last 25 movies such and such actor stared in. Plus it was correct on the cheap and expensive sushi joints in town.

Still not good with manned spaceflight though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:48 PM on September 19, 2012


kbanas: "So, to that end, I rooted my phone and installed a custom ROM (and then another and another and another) and I've been blissfully happy. But obviously not everyone can do that, and no one should have to do it."

I have a freaking CS degree and even I wasn't interested in doing brain surgery on my daily driver phone. I put this all on Google--they could've laid down a spec that manufacturers would be required to follow in order to include any Google branding on their phones. They could've required all OEM phones with Google branding to be upgradeable to stock Android. They chose not to, and instead put us all at the mercy of the Samsungs of the world. They made an OS that's fantastic if you're an engineer and want to experiment on mobile devices, but if you want a polished, dependable device with service after the sale, run far away.
posted by mullingitover at 4:49 PM on September 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


mullingitover that's a little over dramatic. My wife who is not interested in technology at all has an Android phone and can operate it.
Tho I've run it rooted in the past my EVO-3D is currently running stock and works fine. The thing I miss the most was the addition of WiFi tethering, which I may root again to get. But then that's hardly a unique problem among smart phones.
posted by MrBobaFett at 4:53 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I put this all on Google--they could've laid down a spec that manufacturers would be required to follow in order to include any Google branding on their phones. They could've required all OEM phones with Google branding to be upgradeable to stock Android. They chose not to, and instead put us all at the mercy of the Samsungs of the world. They made an OS that's fantastic if you're an engineer and want to experiment on mobile devices, but if you want a polished, dependable device with service after the sale, run far away.

You're absolutely right. It's really, really sad. I mean, this lady comes to me with a Motorola Droid X2 Xtreme Awesome Super Duper Phone and she's like, "Help me set up my e-mail," and I want to jump out a building.

IRRITATING AND CONFUSING SKIN ON TOP OF ANDROID? YES.

BLOATED, AWFUL APPLICATIONS I CAN'T UNINSTALL? YES.

NEVER, EVER WILL SEE AN ANDROID OS UPDATE IN ITS LIFETIME? YES.

I can't sell that to someone. I don't want to. I have my Galaxy Nexus with Jelly Bean and I think it's slick and I love it, but when my mother-in-law asks me for a phone, I say, "Hey, yeah, get an iPhone."

Because Jesus Christ.

And my thing is, like, why won't Google do something? What are the technical and legal ramifications of DOING SOMETHING? We all know it's shit. It's shit! It's shitty, shitty shit. And if we know it, and Apple knows it, then Google sure as shit knows it.

Oh technology rage, you are a cruel mistress.
posted by kbanas at 4:54 PM on September 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


Downloaded the Embark transit app for NYC. It's awesome. If you're in one of the cities Embark covers, you're golden.
posted by the jam at 4:57 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is it true that it bumps you into Yelp every time you accidentally click on anything? Ugh. Do not want.
posted by Artw at 4:59 PM on September 19, 2012


Thanks, the jam. That's really useful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:02 PM on September 19, 2012


Feature decisions made for reasons of corporate strategy seems to exist primarily as a means of distributing poop among everyone's cornflakes as evenly as possible.
posted by JHarris at 5:11 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


kbanas: And my thing is, like, why won't Google do something? What are the technical and legal ramifications of DOING SOMETHING?

Android has rocketed itself into running on the majority of smart phones. It did that by offering itself for free to manufacturers, with few of the restrictions we would now like, and also compromising with some carriers in ways Apple wasn't willing to do.

That gambit paid off in spades. It was a deal with the devil(s), of course, and now that Android is successful enough not to be in danger, it'll be hard for Google to claw back enough control to fix the issues caused by manufacturer and carrier freedom.

The Nexus devices are a solution only for those in the know. Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility will likely take the Nexus concept to the next level, since Motorola is a pretty large slice of the Android pie, by itself. However, the logistics of that will take a while -- so far, it seems to be business as usual, for Motorola Mobility.
posted by gilrain at 5:12 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


And my thing is, like, why won't Google do something? What are the technical and legal ramifications of DOING SOMETHING? We all know it's shit. It's shit! It's shitty, shitty shit. And if we know it, and Apple knows it, then Google sure as shit knows it.

The two rules to Android happiness are:

1) never get out of the boat
2) always choose either an official Google phone or a recent model supported by the latest Cyanogenmod

If you get an official Google phone, you will get updates months before other models, since you're not dependent on the carrier or the manufacturer.
posted by zippy at 5:13 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was kind of wondering – does anybody know how the API integration is supposed to work? Will this eventually yield an integration inside the Maps app to give us transit directions? It'd be cool if that were the case – I assumed that it wouldn't, largely because Apple generally demands control over their own apps and because integration between apps seems like pretty much a non-iOS thing in general. I guess it's probably more likely that in the future clicking that button in Maps will just switch over to another app, but given that there's an API, maybe at least desired destinations or routing or something will be transferred to that app?
posted by koeselitz at 5:15 PM on September 19, 2012


Well, the fanboys are certainly out in force.

iOS 6 has some silly design decisions. The old Maps app and Youtube app were quite good. The visual changes to iOS 6 are similarly ill-conceived: some apps keep the old black status bar, some switch to big rounded titlebars and blue status bars, the Music app is now inexplicably monochrome and ugly. The whole thing is reminiscent of opening the Fonts folder in Windows Vista and seeing some Windows 95 GUI elements just hanging out.

Tech companies know this kind of BS is frustrating to consumers and I'm certain are privy to customer annoyance at their competitors but then they turn around and do it anyway.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:24 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


And my thing is, like, why won't Google do something? What are the technical and legal ramifications of DOING SOMETHING? We all know it's shit. It's shit! It's shitty, shitty shit. And if we know it, and Apple knows it, then Google sure as shit knows it.

Because cellphone manufacturers. Apple has the advantage of being the manufacturer. Now that Google owns Motorola maybe they'll be able to pull similar strings.
posted by JHarris at 5:35 PM on September 19, 2012


I do not doubt for one second that if every phone that could run Android 4.1 was currently doing so, there wouldn't even be an argument about this bullshit, because everyone would just buy an Android handset.

But no. You've got shit running 2.2 and 2.3 and 4.0 and the bloat on top - my GOD - Sense, TOUCHWIZ - burn it all with fire.


I just checked, and my hated phone is running 2.3.5. Click on update? Nada. I'm sure I could root it or whatever and figure out how to get an update, but damn it, this is just a stupid phone and I want it to just work without having to fuss around and jump through complicated hoops. I have a job and a life and all kinds of things that are more interesting than my phone, which is why it is so aggravating that it doesn't automatically have access to better software as it becomes available.

I will almost certainly go back to an Iphone when I get my next phone, though I hope that by then google has released their map app.
posted by Forktine at 5:42 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless you purchase an official Google device you can rest easy knowing that you'll never get an OS update that'll change things. Emphasis on you'll never get an OS update.

It's interesting how the Acer-Alibaba-Google story fell through the cracks. Seems as if the future is where, unless you purchase a device that Google deems official, you might not be able to get an Android OS to upgrade at all, let alone a phone that runs Android. At least, it seems the direction is to make forking OSS as difficult as possible for third-party vendors. Amazon is the only one that seems to be positioned to take on this new (or newly-enforced) policy, outside of a pocket of vendors in China — maybe they'll have a cell phone, one day, or perhaps locking down the platform will finally help Google get more devices off 2.x.

I was kind of wondering – does anybody know how the API integration is supposed to work?

A lot of it is described in this document (ADC account might be required). You can find out more about apps providing directions through the Maps app here. Apps build and open a custom URL which Maps can parse and render.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:44 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just add me to the list of people who will never upgrade to ios6 unless it has a demonstrated and vouched-for ability to do transit maps in my small Canadian city, which currently the maps app handles brilliantly. It's like 25% of the value I get from having a smartphone and I'm not giving that up to satisfy some internal apple power grab or geekish design opinion or whatever is driving this. I actually really don't care about the reasons, I just want to keep what I already have. If you're listening, Apple, these rumours are killing you so get smart.
posted by Rumple at 5:44 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless you purchase an official Google device you can rest easy knowing that you'll never get an OS update that'll change things.

True and it does annoy me but you don't have to wait for OS upgrades to get app updates. Even with my two versions back Incredible 2, I have the most recent versions of Gmail, Google Maps, Drive, Music, etc. The only thing that I'm really missing by not having Android 4.x is a slightly flashier UI and Google Now which is cute but just about as useful as Siri.
posted by octothorpe at 5:50 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


> ... I also think OpenStreetMap (OSM) is amazing too

The iOS 6 maps app uses OSM map data in parts, it seems.
posted by scruss at 5:51 PM on September 19, 2012


Is the Maps app you guys all like the native Maps app on the iPhone? Because it's like I'm in a different universe from you. My Maps app takes 10s to load, it crashes to the home screen about half the time I try to use it, and god help me if I try to get it to recognize my current location; that happens after 30 seconds to a minute, or sometimes not at all. It is terrible. It has sometimes helped me out with the traffic overlay, but that too takes ages to load if it loads at all.
posted by escabeche at 5:59 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess it's probably more likely that in the future clicking that button in Maps will just switch over to another app, but given that there's an API, maybe at least desired destinations or routing or something will be transferred to that app?

Your desired beginning and end points are already passed to the 3rd party transit app. The handoff is smooth and has worked perfectly for the three different transit apps that I've experimented with.
posted by The Lamplighter at 6:03 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


True and it does annoy me but you don't have to wait for OS upgrades to get app updates. Even with my two versions back Incredible 2, I have the most recent versions of Gmail, Google Maps, Drive, Music, etc. The only thing that I'm really missing by not having Android 4.x is a slightly flashier UI and Google Now which is cute but just about as useful as Siri.

There are all kinds of improvements to the OS that aren't visible to the end user. When developers are only able to use the APIs for three year old versions of the OS, the quality of applications suffers.
posted by The Lamplighter at 6:05 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, as somebody who has a 4.1 tablet and a 2.3 phone (until it was stolen, anyway), the performance difference is immense.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:08 PM on September 19, 2012


It's interesting how the Acer-Alibaba-Google story fell through the cracks. Seems as if the future is where, unless you purchase a device that Google deems official, you might not be able to get an Android OS to upgrade at all, let alone a phone that runs Android. At least, it seems the direction is to make forking OSS as difficult as possible for third-party vendors. Amazon is the only one that seems to be positioned to take on this new (or newly-enforced) policy, outside of a pocket of vendors in China — maybe they'll have a cell phone, one day, or perhaps locking down the platform will finally help Google get more devices off 2.x.

Although the media is presenting this as a story about Google being evil, this is the sort of action that it takes to keep tighter control over Android and prevent the miserable user experience that you get with many Android phones.

Acer was free to make phone with a horrible Android fork, they just couldn't do it and maintain their good relationship with Google. It's completely understandable to me that Google doesn't want manufacturers to continue to pollute the world with these awful phones.
posted by The Lamplighter at 6:09 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've yet to see a credible, public source about why iOS 6 doesn't contain Google Maps. Apple clearly isn't quite ready yet to switch. My suspicion is that Google declined to renew the Maps contract, a combination of their general change in Maps licensing strategy and a specific desire to stop providing good maps to the competing phone product. But folks I respect are fairly certain it was Apple who chose not to renew. I don't really know.

It will be very interesting to see if Google makes an iOS Maps app and, if so, whether Apple deigns to approve it. I don't see much advantage to Google in making maps available for free; it just makes the iPhone stronger over Android. Maybe iOS Maps users are valuable to Google for ads or data collection or something, but I'm not so sure.

Also related; there's a variety of third party vector based maps apps on iOS that cache the data so it works even without a data connection. Very useful when travelling. My favorite at the moment is MapsWithMe.
posted by Nelson at 6:12 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is the Maps app you guys all like the native Maps app on the iPhone? Because it's like I'm in a different universe from you.

Oh, believe me, I've been deeply frustrated by the native Maps app for years. When I first heard that Apple was going to replace it in iOS 6 I was thrilled. Vector maps, finally! But in the event, they ripped out the feature I use most—transit directions—and spent a shitload of money and effort on this asinine (and really un-Apple-like) 3D flyover shit that I will never, ever use. So it's not that I like the old Maps app especially—but at least it did what I needed (eventually).
posted by enn at 6:13 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Transit maps will be there in a couple of months. After working with Apple shit most of my life, I can pretty much guarantee this.

But they still definitely have a lot of catch-up to do. Even so, I can't even count the dozens of times that Google Maps has steered me wrong. It's not like they're some omnipotent god or something.

The other thing is: Who the fuck updates their OS on day one? You've got to be kidding me. NEVER update an OS the day it comes out, ESPECIALLY IF IT'S A .0 RELEASE. Jesus fuck.
posted by fungible at 6:14 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Who the fuck updates their OS on day one? You've got to be kidding me. NEVER update an OS the day it comes out, ESPECIALLY IF IT'S A .0 RELEASE. Jesus fuck.,

People who make a back up to iCloud AND a local backup literally right before doing update.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 PM on September 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


The old Maps app and Youtube app were quite good.

Well... they hadn't been updated with new features in a long time. And the Apple YouTube app had that old fashioned TV icon for forever, the one that screamed out "generic icon pack."

OK, on a different note, there are a shit-ton of new emoji icons for the ten-year-old texter in us all...

Oooooh... now I'm tempted, although not enough to lose my jailbreak.
posted by JHarris at 6:19 PM on September 19, 2012


The Acer thing is absolutely nothing new at all. If you want the Google apps and to have access to the Google market you need to meet Google's requirements. Acer happily signed up to this deal.

Amazon can do what they want because they don't use Google's apps or market, Alibaba can do what they want, Acer can't, because they've signed a contract saying they won't. This is how it has always been, nothing has changed.
posted by markr at 6:28 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does the new Maps app actually use your location area correctly? Cause every time I search for a business or an address without explicitly adding the city, the Google Maps app brings me listings from some other state or country, and it's super-annoying.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:28 PM on September 19, 2012


I've been doing day 0 updates on Mac OS and iOS for 20 years. I have a nightly mirror of the boot drive, and do the usual backup of the phone. I think I've had to use it once. The Mac is my main work machine. If something goes to shit, I just switch the boot drive and carry on.
posted by unSane at 6:29 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My theory is that Apple's engineers—who presumably mostly get around by driving and live in the suburbs—see transit directions as a novelty feature and do not realize how much daily use it gets by those of us who live in cities with reliable transit (or how many of us there are).

Late to this, but I doubt it. Contrary to popular belief, they do market research too. Far more likely scenario is that they just don't have the data for whatever reason.
posted by downing street memo at 6:35 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been doing day 0 updates on Mac OS and iOS for 20 years.

Well, do what makes you happy. I prefer to let everyone else be the guinea pigs. (of course I back up as well, but I ain't got time for bullshit, y'know?)
posted by fungible at 6:38 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does the new Maps app actually use your location area correctly?

Worked for me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on September 19, 2012


Thought it did say it would only take 1 day and 13 hours to go from Savannah, GA to Los Angeles, CA.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 PM on September 19, 2012


I think they're taking the whole "twice as fast" thing a little too seriously.
posted by polyhedron at 6:42 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The other thing is: Who the fuck updates their OS on day one?"

People who believe "It Just Works"?
posted by MikeMc at 6:53 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


As an Android to iPhone convert, one feature I missed dearly was the Google Maps & GPS feature. Freakin' awesome on my O.G. Droid. It sucked on my Thunderbolt & L.G. Revolution, though... and my Droid Razr was barely broken in when Verizon told me that the WiFi issues I had meant that it was defective. When, at that point, I decided to switch to the iPhone 4s, I was pleased with the phone's performance but never came to regard the Maps as anything that I could count on.

So, I am anxious to see what the new maps feature will be like. I've already upgraded to iOS 6, like what I see so far.
posted by lotusstp at 7:04 PM on September 19, 2012


No, people who get entertainment value from being early adopters but are fully aware of the risks and have backup plans in place to mitigate them. Boring, I know, but true.
posted by unSane at 7:04 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, do what makes you happy. I prefer to let everyone else be the guinea pigs. (of course I back up as well, but I ain't got time for bullshit, y'know?)

I'm with you on this. I made the mistake of updating to Mountain Lion and have had continuous trouble with wireless literally disappearing, wake-from-sleep not working correctly, system freezing, stuff I've never dealt with before.
posted by odinsdream at 7:30 PM on September 19, 2012


Pathetic - I have a decently sized river close to my house. Apparently it dried up as far as apple maps are concerned.
posted by azlondon at 7:40 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, really stupid Android question. I see all the comments about the OS never updating, but then I see a story like this one: "You can download the ICS update for your Captivate Glide by visiting www.samsung.com/us/attcaptivateglide/update and following the instructions on the site."

So, are you dependent on the phone manufacturer being willing to push out updates?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:43 PM on September 19, 2012


This is tangential, but Google has had some form of a maps app since 2005 or 2006. I attended a tech talk there in 2006 where an engineer described the development of the app for different platforms. In those days, Android and the iphone didn't exist, and the main distinction in devices was between the different carriers. There was one phone, a Sprint device I believe, that presented an interesting challenge because the maps app bricked it, meaning you could do something with that app that would not only crash the phone, but would also prevent it from rebooting. The engineer presented a well-thought out test plan that they used to minimize the number of phones bricked, and indeed only about 2 or 3 devices got bricked before they figured out the bug. Apparently they were caching the tiles in such a way that they were actually overwriting the files that the OS depended on to boot. Such was the state of mobile devices in those days.

My single contribution to this talk was to ask, "But how did you obtain the devices that crashed?" The presenter sheepishly admitted that they went to different Sprint stores so that they weren't recognized.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:45 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


On a more positive note, the Maps app does do an extremely nice job of making the process of getting from point A to B very intuitive and easy, something Google Maps was abysmal at doing. I was so happy to get my tech savvy 12 year old an iPhone so she could be the one other person in the car that could understand how to use Gmaps correctly instead of trying to explain it to Ms. docpops every time. So this gives me hope, at least, that if they can improve their database this could improve dramatically very soon.
posted by docpops at 7:46 PM on September 19, 2012


So, are you dependent on the phone manufacturer being willing to push out updates?

It's a weird combination of the phone manufacturer and the carrier and that particular phone. Even if, say, Samsung is pushing the latest OS to their Galaxy Nexus, they may take several months to push it to the Captivate Glide, and they may have phones that never get updates again. And the OS update schedule also depends on whether you have Verizon, AT&T, etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:47 PM on September 19, 2012


It's a weird combination of the phone manufacturer and the carrier and that particular phone

Yes, the carrier decides whether they want to do QA on the update, train tech support for the updated OS, and whether an upgraded old phone might keep customers from wanting a new phone and new two year contract.

There may be other factors too, but "because carrier's money" is the main one.
posted by zippy at 8:01 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, updating these phones can be a tremendous amount of work for the manufacturer.

For instance, you might see the AT&T version of a phone receive an update and the Verizon version not get one simply because the creator of the CDMA (Verizon) radio did not produce a driver for the newer version of Android. It's not always a matter of laziness by the manufacturer and consumer-hostility from the carrier.
posted by The Lamplighter at 8:10 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have a link that lists all the new features and/or changes in iOS 6?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 PM on September 19, 2012


> It's a weird combination of the phone manufacturer and the carrier and that particular phone. Even if, say, Samsung is pushing the latest OS to their Galaxy Nexus, they may take several months to push it to the Captivate Glide, and they may have phones that never get updates again. And the OS update schedule also depends on whether you have Verizon, AT&T, etc.

A small clarification: the so-called "Nexus" phones are updated directly from Google (at least the GSM-based phones-- the CDMA carriers in the US throw a wrinkle in that).
posted by Burhanistan at 8:32 PM on September 19, 2012


The thing about Google Maps and transit is that for many agencies, Google is the reason they produced standardized transit data in the first place. It developed the standard - the General (formerly Google) Transit Feed Specification. And it's moved on to developing the real-time bus data standard. As far as I know, many agencies only provide the data to Google, and still don't have it available to the public as open data - either because they're not comfortable with open data, they haven't gotten around to it, or for whatever other reason.

Getting all that transit data out again is hard work. Especially if your dream office is shaped like a spaceship far removed from the reach of any reasonable transit or urban space.
posted by parudox at 9:13 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


For instance, you might see the AT&T version of a phone receive an update and the Verizon version not get one simply because the creator of the CDMA (Verizon) radio did not produce a driver for the newer version of Android. It's not always a matter of laziness by the manufacturer and consumer-hostility from the carrier.

No, instead the manufacturer used really cheap parts that aren't properly supported by their makers, because they prioritized low price and disposibility over long-term maintenance. Whatever the reason, it doesn't seem to be a problem that Nexus manufacturers have.
posted by JHarris at 9:31 PM on September 19, 2012


Windows Phone doesn't have a maps app
Bing maps
Nokia transit
Nokia drive- which I love
posted by niccolo at 9:31 PM on September 19, 2012


I was trying to see which Google apps Apple allowed in their App Store and I noticed something interesting.

Go to Apple's online iTunes App Store...
Search for the following apps:
iBooks
Google Play Books
Nook
Kindle
Pinterest
Angry Birds

iBooks, Pinterest, and Angry Birds return links to that app's page. Google Play Books, Nook, and Kindle all return links to either random pages on Apple.com or links to buy an iPad.

Maybe there's a valid explaination for this, but for the company with the highest valuation in the world, they sure act really insecure.
posted by VoteBrian at 9:33 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


mullingitover writes "Unlike Apple, which releases OS updates and then you can install them, you'll never have this problem on android. Unless you purchase an official Google device you can rest easy knowing that you'll never get an OS update that'll change things. Emphasis on you'll never get an OS update."

It's a matter of degree though isn't it? You only get a couple updates from Apple and then your hardware is no longer supported.

Brandon Blatcher writes
Who the fuck updates their OS on day one? You've got to be kidding me. NEVER update an OS the day it comes out, ESPECIALLY IF IT'S A .0 RELEASE. Jesus fuck.,
"People who make a back up to iCloud AND a local backup literally right before doing update."

Somewhere else in the thread it was stated you can't roll back from an update. Is this incorrect?
posted by Mitheral at 9:41 PM on September 19, 2012


VoteBrian, that would be really insecure, if it were true. I don't get any difference in searching for "Google Play" than I do for "Grplangle," except that it brings up a generic web search for "Google Play," and suggests maybe I mean "Google Pay." Which, like, seems petty if intentional, but it's probably not.
posted by JHarris at 9:58 PM on September 19, 2012


JHarris, are you searching from their website? The one I linked to above? Because I get completely different results for "Google Play" vs "Grplangle".

My point with the "Google Play Books" search, by the way, was that it's the actual name of the app.
posted by VoteBrian at 10:06 PM on September 19, 2012


theodolite: "(this is sort of off topic, but drives me crazy - check out the "transit" layer on the browser version of Google Maps for any major city. San Francisco? Nice color coded BART lines - blue, green, red, all the same colors you see on any transit map. Easy to tell apart. Same in New York, Boston, etc. Chicago? ALL PURPLE. And the L lines are actually named after their colors here!)"


That's almost as bad as the transit layer in Los Angel....OH WAIT IT DOESN'T EXIST!
posted by Defenestrator at 10:06 PM on September 19, 2012


I searched the App Store on an actual iPhone for Google Play Books, Kindle, Nook etc all give the proper results. If they didn't want people to get those apps, why not mess up the search where people actually use it?
posted by The Lamplighter at 10:11 PM on September 19, 2012


If they didn't want people to get those apps, why not mess up the search where people actually use it?

I don't know... but why would searches for their competitors' apps return irrelevant results... even for exact matches for app titles?
posted by VoteBrian at 10:13 PM on September 19, 2012


It's a matter of degree though isn't it? You only get a couple updates from Apple and then your hardware is no longer supported.

The iPhone 3GS was released in June 2009, when the only Android phone on available in the US was the G1. It just got the new operating system.
posted by The Lamplighter at 10:14 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


People talk like linux is a complete POS now. It used to be the greatest and now people consider it barely usable despite the massive strides they made since people first conceived the idea of "linux on the desktop".

Guys who spent the last 15 years working on Linux software are going around writing articles about how Linux is the worst thing ever made. Practically challenging Linus to a duel.
Especially since android uses the Linux Kernel, and can, if rooted, run any Linux program you want.

Also, while lots of people whined about it, I thought Ubuntu 11 was beautiful. Now that so much out there is web-based, Ubuntu is a totally reasonable for day to day computing.

If the goal is to create a truly open source OS that millions of people use, well, they succeeded through Android.
If I remember correctly, when Google announced their version of 3D buildings, they demonstrated it on an iPad, and said something about it being released for iOS.
Huh? Google Earth has had 3d buildings on the PC years before the iPad even came out.
Oh man, for all of you threatening to switch to android, you'll be in for a treat. Unlike Apple, which releases OS updates and then you can install them, you'll never have this problem on android. Unless you purchase an official Google device you can rest easy knowing that you'll never get an OS update that'll change things. Emphasis on you'll never get an OS update.
If you're adventurous, you can get a phone that supports Cyanogen and install that.

But that said, so what? If the phone works when you buy it, what do you need OS updates for? People usually upgrade their phone every few years anyway. I don't really get why this is so important for people. I could care less. So long as it can take calls, take pictures, and do navigation, what else do you need?

The crap UIs phone makers put on their devices seriously needs to be optional, though.
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The iPhone 3GS was released in June 2009, when the only Android phone on available in the US was the G1. It just got the new operating system.

How many of the features in the new OS work on the 3GS? No Siri, Facetime over cellular, offline reading in Safari, VIP list in mail, Flyover in maps or turn by turn nav. Even the 4 doesn't get most of those.

Sure they keep bumping up the version number on their old phones, but if you aren't getting the new features does it matter?
posted by markr at 10:21 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


iBooks, Pinterest, and Angry Birds return links to that app's page. Google Play Books, Nook, and Kindle all return links to either random pages on Apple.com or links to buy an iPad.

I searched for Amazon's Kindle app and it was the first hit from the keyword 'kindle'.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:40 PM on September 19, 2012


just a shopping choice

Not really. Smartphones are profoundly empowering and transformative devices and it's ludicrous that features that people come to depend on are removed or changed at will without recourse. It's illustrative that all the examples you mention (cars, neighbours, politics, marriage, war) are governed by extensive codes and regulations. The smartphone industry by comparison is governed by a opportunistic allegiances between carriers and device manufacturers, spearheaded by robber barons and self-styled visionaries, accountable to no one and responsible for nothing. At some point this will change and people will be able to determine for themselves what map tool they want to use and to what extent a software update is allowed to mess with their lives. Until that time the drama is built right in.
posted by deo rei at 10:50 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I searched for Amazon's Kindle app and it was the first hit from the keyword 'kindle'.

Here are my results.
posted by VoteBrian at 10:55 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


modernnomad: I sincerely hope Google gets approval for a stand alone app shortly.

The fact that people can say they hope that permission will be granted to run a program, when it's perfectly obvious that the only reason to say no is to hurt Apple's competition, just amazes me.

This bland acceptance of being made into a subservient pawn, required to ask permission to run programs on hardware that you own and paid for, is absolutely repellent. Where the heck does Apple get off telling you can't run anything you freaking want on your hardware? The only reason to say no would be to serve Apple's corporate interests, not yours, but you seem to be totally okay with this.

I can't believe people will sign up for this deal.
posted by Malor at 10:57 PM on September 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wow, and here I was assuming the next maps update would finally include bicycling routes/directions on the maps. A few months ago I had a Google programmer staying with me so I voiced my complaints about no bike directions. He was confused and told me Google Maps had bicycling directions for a long time. Then I realized he was not on an iPhone, obviously.
posted by Bunglegirl at 11:06 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This bland acceptance of being made into a subservient pawn, required to ask permission to run programs on hardware that you own and paid for, is absolutely repellent. Where the heck does Apple get off telling you can't run anything you freaking want on your hardware? The only reason to say no would be to serve Apple's corporate interests, not yours, but you seem to be totally okay with this.

We are focused on maps, so it seems a relevant time to mention Skyhook. Google bullied Motorola into dropping Skyhook's mapping technology, because it competed with Google's ability to collect (and ultimately monetize) location data off end users. It is interesting that Google will go to this extent to collect data on its users, and, therefore, perhaps, it could be a positive development in the grand scheme of things that Apple is decentralizing requests for geographic data from end users, even if the user interface itself needs more work. There are a lot of good reasons not to trust Google with your data, and Skyhook is a perfect example.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:11 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Lamplighter writes "The iPhone 3GS was released in June 2009, when the only Android phone on available in the US was the G1. It just got the new operating system."

So 3GS -> 4 and now 4 -> 5. But iOS 5 isn't available for iPhone 3 so the like I said just a couple updates.

Blazecock Pileon writes "There are a lot of good reasons not to trust Google with your data, and Skyhook is a perfect example."

We shouldn't trust Google with our data because they might try to convince a partner to drop their competing app? In light of iOS dropping Google Map I'm not sure they are coming out ahead on that score.
posted by Mitheral at 11:17 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


PS: Blazecock Pileon your link is 404ing.
posted by Mitheral at 11:18 PM on September 19, 2012


What does that have to do with anything, Blazecock, other than a chance to blow the horn for Apple yet again?

I don't care about Apple, I just despise the lockdown. That's bullshit. It's not for our benefit, it's for Apple's. And I am still mystified as to why people sign up for that crap in such droves, and then wring their hands and hope that software they like will be allowed to run on hardware they own.

That's crap. Nobody should be able to tell you what you can run on hardware that you bought. You own it, full stop. You have to pay to replace it, should you break or lose it, so you get all the responsibilities of ownership, but not all of the rights.

The iOS setup has all the worst features of both renting and owning; you're an owner when it's convenient for Apple, and you're a renter when it's convenient for Apple.
posted by Malor at 11:19 PM on September 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here are my results.

Ah, sorry. I thought you were talking about iOS. If you look for the Kindle app on iOS, assuming you want to read books on an iPad, it's the first hit on the keyword 'kindle'.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:20 PM on September 19, 2012


Fixed link?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:21 PM on September 19, 2012


What does that have to do with anything

Just saying that, if you are concerned about corporate interests and interested in the subject of this thread, maybe there are reasons to be concerned about the larger picture and the way in which non-Apple companies have played a primary role in locking down computers and how you use them, especially when this is done in order to monetize the data they collect from you as you use said computer. Is it possible that decoupling search data from mapping, by way of third-party apps explicitly chosen by the end user, could be a minor improvement for general user privacy?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 PM on September 19, 2012


That's crap. Nobody should be able to tell you what you can run on hardware that you bought. You own it, full stop. You have to pay to replace it, should you break or lose it, so you get all the responsibilities of ownership, but not all of the rights.

I can run any damn program I want to - including the ones I write - on my iPhone. The only caveat is that there's a $100/year iOS developer fee.

I'm okay with Apple putting that very tiny gate (tiny relative to per-seat developer licenses for, say, every major game console you can name including the portable ones) on top of things. It has done a remarkable job of keeping the majority of the riff-raff out, much the way this site's $5 cover charge has.

I'm not locked out of coding on my hardware, and various scamware authors are sufficiently deterred that iOS has an almost uniquely worry-free software ecology... I'm not seeing a downside here, other than my being out 30 cents a day.
posted by Ryvar at 11:55 PM on September 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here are my results.
I get the same results as you VoteBrian. Weird.
posted by unliteral at 11:56 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just saying that, if you are concerned about corporate interests and interested in the subject of this thread, maybe there are reasons to be concerned about the larger picture

Given that Apple is the biggest corporation in the world, has a big proportion of the mobile space, almost all the tablet space, and a sizeable chunk of the notebook/desktop space, talking about only Apple isn't far from the big picture. Apple is the 500 pound gorilla now, you know.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:03 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh? Google Earth has had 3d buildings on the PC years before the iPad even came out.

That's the old version that required each building to be created by hand. The one they rolled out a few months back generates the models automatically from aerial photos. And as Jessssse already noted, it's been available in Google Earth for iOS since version 7 rolled out in late July.

I expect "Google Maps" iOS app functionality to be rolled into the next major rev of Google Earth. That'd be the surest way of ducking any App Store approval "difficulty".
posted by Lazlo at 12:07 AM on September 20, 2012


It's interesting how the Acer-Alibaba-Google story fell through the cracks. Seems as if the future is where, unless you purchase a device that Google deems official, you might not be able to get an Android OS to upgrade at all, let alone a phone that runs Android. At least, it seems the direction is to make forking OSS as difficult as possible for third-party vendors. Amazon is the only one that seems to be positioned to take on this new (or newly-enforced) policy, outside of a pocket of vendors in China — maybe they'll have a cell phone, one day, or perhaps locking down the platform will finally help Google get more devices off 2.x.

Uh, that's not what happened.

The android open source project (AOSP) is the Free published sourcecode for android. It's open-source licenced (apache) which means anyone can take that code, and compile a 100% android compatible ROM for their device. Or indeed, fork it, and do whatever they like with it. That's the point of it. Cyanogenmod is the most famous AOSP+custom bits projects that runs on many, many devices, but there are others, such as the chinese focused MIUI android. Google has generally been very fast at publishing their source code for 'official' android versions to the AOSP promptly when a new revision of android comes out on the nexus devices - often within hours.

AOSP can be considered 'vanilla' android; it's basically what ships on Google's own devices, i.e. the nexus line. The two main bits missing are non-open drivers for all the various hardware bits, and the google Play store. The drivers are down to the hardware makers; generally, the binary blobs can be re-used from the 'officially' published roms, which is what generally happens to get cyanogenmod working on any particular device I believe.

The primary thing that google keeps locked down is their own apps; i.e. the play store, and thus Maps and Gmail etc. They are not published as open source. Cyanogenmod does not include them because it can't, legally, but it's trivial to download the google play app separately and install it after the main rom. Or there are several other app stores you can use, not least amazon's.

So OEMs like samsung and HTC and Acer take AOSP, put their own home screen launcher on it (touchwiz, sense etc) to distinguish it from other OEMs. But they also sign up to the open handset alliance (OHA). Being part of OHA gives OEMs early access to new versions of android before it's published to the AOSP. They get technical help from google to get android running on their device. They get to use google branding on the device, and most importantly, they get to legally ship their rom with Google Play and other google apps included.

Amazon is not an OHA member. They take android via AOSP, spin an amazon-branded experience out of it with their own app store, launcher etc, and that's all good. They don't have to remain 100% binary compatible with android - i.e. able to run all the same apps - but I believe they are. Amazon is no different to cyanogenmod in this respect, except of course being a lot better funded. Google have no problem with this; in fact they can't, because once the code is out there under the apache licence, they cease to be able to stop people using it. That's rather the point of the licence!

Acer are an OHA member. Aliyun is a non-100% compatible chinese fork of AOSP; so it's AOSP, but they're screwed around with it so much that it will no longer run all apps from vanilla android.

So Acer are getting help from Google to make google-branded official android devices. They also were going to push out a non-compatible android-variant device from Alibaba.

Google told them pick one or the other; either be part of OHA, or publish forked custom AOSP-based roms from alibaba. They didn't want their help, and the help from other OHA members, being used to build a non-compatible android fork.

Acer chose to remain an official google-branded OHA member instead.

So what would have happened if they'd gone the other way - would it lead to 'Seems as if the future is where, unless you purchase a device that Google deems official, you might not be able to get an Android OS to upgrade at all, let alone a phone that runs Android' ?

In short, no. Acer could leave the OHA, take android from the AOSP, and carry on doing what they already were doing. Acer's ROMs are already pretty close to AOSP anyway. So the upshot would be, future revisions of android updates for Acer devices wouldn't ship with google Play by default, but some other app store. They could certainly ship cyanogenmod roms if they wanted to do even less work customising Android.

Hardly the Android armageddon, or Google bringing down the hammer.

Google's android policy is a lot more like microsoft's desktop windows strategy to date; ship the OS, let the OEM customise it, but provide vanilla versions for those that want to do their own thing instead of letting the OEM put their crapware all over it; and provide a small selection of devices that also come with a vanilla experience, to show em how it's done.

The end result is that OEMs put some weird crapware on it, carriers put even more weird crapware on it, and supporting/updating all that weird crapware means most devices get rom updates much slower than google releases them. Which does indeed suck mightily.
But at least with android you can install your own apps easily; you can replace the OEM crapware launcher with a better one from the App Store, like Nova, and ignore most of the OEM customization.

But ultimately, it's not like Apple, and can't be like Apple. Apple have a handful of devices, and are both OEM and OS vendor, and managed to get enough clout with the carriers to force them to keep their hands off. Google, outside the nexus line, can only provide new versions, they can't force the OEMs to use them, and has zero leverage over the carriers.

It's the nature of the beast; AOSP has given us some really awesome ROMs, and cyanogenmod is frankly better that 90% of OEM shipped roms. I really wish they'd use it. But then, for most users, they don't really care about ROM updates. While 4.1 has polish and speed improvements over 2.3, the underlying 'use' hasn't changed that substantially - most of the real grunt work comes through the Apps, which are backported to older ROMs.

Unlike say, iOS, where going from 4 to 5 to 6 makes a big difference between what maps you have, how youtube works; those have always been separate apps on android, so it doesn't matter if you're running 2.3 or 4.0 or 4.1; you've got the current latest Google Maps.
Nor do you lose a bunch of features if you put it on older hardware; you've either got the current OS, or not. Google also have a lot of work put into 'fragments' - an api that lets app developers ignore the underlying OS features, so they don't have to worry much about which version they're actually running on.

The thing is, android made a lot of changes under the bonnet going from 2.x to 4.0, not least to accomodate tablets. It's akin to the jump from XP to windows vista; whereas vista to 7 is like 4.0 to 4.1, a relatively minor technical change. (note that I'm not comparing android 4.0 to vista in quality, mind)

Once OEM's get past that 'jump' of going to ICS, they should be able to switch to 4.1 and the upcoming 4.2 much quicker. We're already seeing 4.1 devices come out, and 2.3/4.0 devices get upgrade to 4.1, so that's looking promising. Not great, but better.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:06 AM on September 20, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm not locked out of coding on my hardware, and various scamware authors are sufficiently deterred that iOS has an almost uniquely worry-free software ecology... I'm not seeing a downside here, other than my being out 30 cents a day.

That's not a caveat, rather this is the modern equivalent of a poll tax.
posted by 7segment at 1:15 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Given that Apple is the biggest corporation in the world

I'm going to flag you down with a foul on that one; they're the most profitable, but that doesn't necessarily imply "biggest." I don't have numbers, but I'd be surprised if Apple employed as many people as, say, Microsoft.

Google bullied Motorola into dropping Skyhook's mapping technology

Actually, doesn't Google outright own Motorola now? It might be the same effect, but the word "bullied" doesn't apply.

JHarris, are you searching from their website? The one I linked to above? Because I get completely different results for "Google Play" vs "Grplangle".

I used the only search I could find from the page linked from: the little search box in the upper-right corner of the page. Google Play brings up a generic web search (which might actually use Google to provide results); my nonsense word* just said there were no hits. Neither seemed to be pushing me to random Apple product pages. (Which is not exactly what I said. It's been a wearying night, sorry.)

*I love coming up with these! Phlurmophle! Schlurknorp! Beileekefrneep! I'm never at a loss for a quickie password.

maybe there are reasons to be concerned about the larger picture and the way in which non-Apple companies have played a primary role in locking down computers and how you use them, especially when this is done in order to monetize the data they collect from you as you use said computer.

While I can't really speak for him, I think he (Malor) is. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned when Apple missteps too. He was responding to your assertion we should fear da Googles, so it was an appropriate time to mention it. If you think that's wrong, then a big ol' phruntnrox to you. Wheeee!
posted by JHarris at 2:26 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now that Europe's waking up the full horror of maps here is being revealed. It's not just the lack of transit data, it's houses in the middle of roads, in the middle of rivers, or miles away from where they are. It's major London Tube stations that simply don't exist, and it's search that tries to find you locations in the US instead of a mile away.

"Usage data" is not going to fix this. It's sub-beta.
posted by fightorflight at 3:43 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm very glad I use MotionX GPS Drive as my GPS and don't have to worry about the native maps switch. It's $0.99 with a month free voice guidance, and then $9.99 for a year of voice. (It's currently a sale, down from $19.99 for a year, don't know how long the sale will last.) It's a much lower cost than what I was using before - OnStar, which was $300 a year (albeit I got a free year with my new car and never actually paid for a year after that).

I might be screwed if I were walking - the one time I used the native Google Maps app, it was their walking directions, although I could probably load that in Safari if I needed it.

The two killer features I would upgrade for would be to let me choose my route ahead of time (preferably on the PC and sync it to the phone) and a button to change the route to avoid any road, so if I get out on Highway 101 and it's closed, I can press a button to say "avoid this road" and it will route around it.

I tried Waze a while back and it was terrible. I was out in the sticks (on purpose) and it was telling me that driveways and dirt paths through cornfields were roads. I was looking for (let's say) Smith Road, and each time I'd pass the dirt path or driveway, it would recalculate the route and again put Smith Road just a short distance ahead of me. I finally switched back to MotionX and was fine. Never did find Smith Road.

Since I have an iPhone 4 and don't get it anywways, can you tell me - does the new Apple Maps include voice guidance, or by "turn-by-turn" do they mean only on screen?
posted by IndigoRain at 5:09 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I expect "Google Maps" iOS app functionality to be rolled into the next major rev of Google Earth. That'd be the surest way of ducking any App Store approval "difficulty".

Until the magic words are uttered: duplicates core functionality.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:31 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm going to flag you down with a foul on that one; they're the most profitable, but that doesn't necessarily imply "biggest."

Yeah, "big" is a loose word. I meant in terms of market cap. At any rate, the point is the same.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:32 AM on September 20, 2012


The iPhone 3GS was released in June 2009, when the only Android phone on available in the US was the G1. It just got the new operating system.

Release date is not the relevant date. Last selling date is, which was only a week ago or so.

It's not like I can install iOS 6 on my iPad 1, and I bought that more recently than 2009.
posted by smackfu at 5:34 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


This bland acceptance of being made into a subservient pawn, required to ask permission to run programs on hardware that you own and paid for, is absolutely repellent. Where the heck does Apple get off telling you can't run anything you freaking want on your hardware? The only reason to say no would be to serve Apple's corporate interests, not yours, but you seem to be totally okay with this.

Yeah I agree that the locked down situation does suck, though your hyperbolic language of "subservient pawn" kind of dilutes the impact and seriousness of your argument and instead provokes much eye rolling.

I've been as critical as anyone of Apple over their walled garden policies, and I really do have issues with them preventing competing apps from appearing on the store. However, it's a trade-off that for the moment I am still willing to make, because I don't believe Android yet has the quality comparable in hardware or cohesiveness on the software side. Now, one day that may change and I will happily switch over, but for me at this moment, there are tradeoffs to be made whichever OS I go with. There is no perfect solution. But as long as you rail on about "subservient pawns" or iSheep, I'm just not going to take you any more seriously than I take the Apple fanboys and their claims that Samsung has absolutely no innovative ideas and that every decision Apple makes is the right one.
posted by modernnomad at 5:37 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to mention that my iPhone 4, which I bought as the latest greatest hardware 16 months ago, is missing a bunch of the new features from iOS 6. Flyover? Oh, sorry. Spoken directions like I've had in my 3rd party GPS app for a year? Nope, that requires Siri. It's like I get a few nice enhancements, but lose about an equal amount of stuff. Not that great an upgrade at all.
posted by smackfu at 5:40 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So 3GS -> 4 and now 4 -> 5. But iOS 5 isn't available for iPhone 3 so the like I said just a couple updates.

For the 3GS, it has had iOS 3.0 -> 3.1 -> 4.0 -> 4.1 -> 4.2.1 -> 5.0 -> 5.1 -> 6.0, plus the smaller bug-fix releases in between (details). I think that's pretty impressive, having struggled to get even basic bug fixes on WinMo in the past. The iPhone 4S is my first iPhone, and I expect it will be fully supported long past the time my contract runs out.
posted by stopgap at 5:41 AM on September 20, 2012


I don't believe Android yet has the quality comparable in hardware or cohesiveness on the software side.

Yeah, the reason I tolerate Cupertino's iron fist is that no one else is selling a better phone experience right now. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

That will probably change someday. When Windows became as easy to use as Macs, I switched to PCs and never looked back.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:43 AM on September 20, 2012


So I pre-ordered myself an iPhone 5 upgrading from an incredibly ancient/low-end-even-when-I-bought-it Android phone. I bought it for the flimsiest of reasons -- it is the only new smartphone that is small enough to fit in my pocket, and it has a nice camera to replace my old P&S Panasonic which just broke. I foolishly assumed it could do everything my old phone did maybe just in a different and faster way. I heard vaguely that it would offer turn-by-turn navigation, and just assumed it would work as well as Google Navigation on Android. I use the driving navigation probably the second most out of everything else on my phone (just behind actual, you know, calling).

I've never had an iPhone before. Do they update apps often? Would it be worth keeping the phone and hoping Maps improves or will it take more than a year for something better (either a 3rd party app or improvements to Apple Maps) to come along? If the latter, then I guess when I get my iPhone, I'll have to shlep over to the Sprint store and exchange it for some sort of huge Android monstrosity (seriously have you seen that new Galaxy phone? I think I'd have to buy a new purse!).
posted by bluefly at 5:48 AM on September 20, 2012


It's not like I can install iOS 6 on my iPad 1, and I bought that more recently than 2009.

Heck, I bought an iPad 2 from the Apple Store 3 months ago. iOS, for me, means no Siri, the loss of a core functionality of the mapping program I use, no flyover and no FaceTime over cellular. A few things look and function a little different and I now have a clock app, but otherwise, there's very little that improves my experience and the Maps thing really kills me.

I compare that to my two year old Android phone, which has not received a core update but its applications continue to be upgraded almost weekly. If you ask me which I'd rather (core updates or new and better apps) I think overwhelmingly I'd take new and better apps.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:55 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does anyone have a link that lists all the new features and/or changes in iOS 6?

What’s new in iOS 6? Here’s the changelog.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:57 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the reason I tolerate Cupertino's iron fist is that no one else is selling a better phone experience right now. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

For hardware, sure. But Android 4.1 is better and can do more. That's the way it is, no apologies.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:58 AM on September 20, 2012


"Subservient pawn" is precisely correct. If you're an iPhone owner, you become subservient; you must ask permission to install and run programs on a device you putatively 'own', and that permission can be taken away anytime, even retroactively. And you are a pawn in the fight between Google and Apple; your eyeballs are being weaponized.

And, apparently, quite a lot of you are perfectly okay with this. And now Microsoft sees all that hot app store action, and they're trying, with Windows 8, to duplicate the same thing, to make Microserfs for real.

This is screwing up my life, and I am unhappy about it. You guys are happily selling Manhattan for some shiny beads, taking a short-term benefit and ignoring the gigantic long-term problem. The latest symptom of that problem is being shut out of a competitor's mapping program, demonstrably much better than Apple's, purely because Apple doesn't like Google.

How anyone can argue that this is even vaguely okay escapes me completely. How the hell did this become acceptable behavior? It's highly comparable with the way Microsoft shut other OSes off of PCs in the 1990s, and I bet a lot of you were probably angry with them for doing so. I certainly was. But, now, when Apple does the same thing, apparently it's perfectly okay, because, well, it's Apple. And with Microsoft, all they could do was keep manufacturers from installing cool stuff like BeOS -- you could still install it yourself. With Apple, they do their absolute damndest to make it impossible for you to ever run anything they don't like. I consider this much, much worse than anything Microsoft ever did.

And it's not like I hate Apple. I've bought a bunch of stuff from them over the years.... a Mac Pro, a Mini, an Airport Express, a full-fledged Airport Extreme, and a 2009 Macbook Pro, a big expensive unit. But I'm no longer an Apple customer, because they have turned into a more abusive company than Microsoft ever dreamed of being.

And then the MeFi Apple partisan points at something Google is doing wrong, and splutters, trying to take our eyes off the ball.
posted by Malor at 5:59 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Those travelling within London might be interested in Citymapper, which has the usual options for travelling as well as cycling, bus, and train. It's very useful for getting around in the city - and obviously has the sort of tie-in to local transit info that Apple Maps now doesn't have.

I'm not sure what's in it for the Citymapper team to shunt all their transit info over to Apple Maps though. Presumably there are other, localised transit apps that do the same for other locations. Whats in it for them to cede their access of transit info over to Apple? Is there legal stuff that makes this harder? I'm assuming it's not simple, but who knows?
posted by The River Ivel at 6:03 AM on September 20, 2012


Subservient pawn" is precisely correct. If you're an iPhone owner, you become subservient; you must ask permission to install and run programs on a device you putatively 'own'...

This is why you sound hyperbolic, because what you're written doesn't happen. Oh, I get your larger point, that only Apple approved Apps can be run on the iDevice. But having to ask permission to install and run programs? That literally isn't true.

FYI, no one likes to be called a subservient pawn. I have no idea why you keep doing it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm also quite curious how long the old iOS 5 Maps app will still work, if Apple and Google really declined to renew their contract.
posted by smackfu at 6:05 AM on September 20, 2012


"Subservient pawn" is precisely correct. If you're an iPhone owner, you become subservient; you must ask permission to install and run programs on a device you putatively 'own', and that permission can be taken away anytime, even retroactively. And you are a pawn in the fight between Google and Apple; your eyeballs are being weaponized.

I get that this is obviously a very, very big deal to you, but it's just not reflective of how 99% of people approach using their phone, which is to them nothing more than a communications tool. Can they call/text their family? Can they surf the web? Can they install apps in an easy manner? All the major platforms do this. Tell people at a party that they are subservient pawns because of their OS choice, and you'll either be laughed at hysterically or patted gently on the head.

Walled gardens are problematic. Hyperbole will get you nowhere.
posted by modernnomad at 6:09 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm also quite curious how long the old iOS 5 Maps app will still work, if Apple and Google really declined to renew their contract.

Yeah, that's going to be interesting to find out. Hopefully a good long while, considering older devices rely on it.
posted by Artw at 6:18 AM on September 20, 2012


That Apple support thread posted awhile back contains directions from a user for fixing your wifi:
Found the fix! Super easy. In the wireless network settings all I had to do was make sure Auto-Join was set to ON for the wifi network in the wireless network's settings (click on arrow on right of SSID to get there).
I don't know if they're correct, since I haven't upgraded, but other people in the thread seem to be happy with them.
posted by desjardins at 6:18 AM on September 20, 2012


But I'm no longer an Apple customer, because they have turned into a more abusive company than Microsoft ever dreamed of being.

Xbox, new Windows 8 App store, Windows Phone 8... walled gardens all. (I guess you can turn it off on the phone? Can't figure it out.)
posted by fungible at 6:20 AM on September 20, 2012


I'm not really sure what the point of that list is. I'm sure the commenter you are responding to would just say they are all bad, just like Apple.
posted by smackfu at 6:25 AM on September 20, 2012


The point is that Microsoft dreams big, it seems. Abuse! Abuse!
posted by fungible at 6:43 AM on September 20, 2012


This is screwing up my life, and I am unhappy about it. You guys are happily selling Manhattan for some shiny beads, taking a short-term benefit and ignoring the gigantic long-term problem. The latest symptom of that problem is being shut out of a competitor's mapping program, demonstrably much better than Apple's, purely because Apple doesn't like Google.

How anyone can argue that this is even vaguely okay escapes me completely. How the hell did this become acceptable behavior?


Different people have different life priorities, news at 11.
posted by empath at 6:43 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


that permission can be taken away anytime, even retroactively

Not following you on the "retroactively".

Any iOS 5 user who doesn't want to lose Google Maps is free not to update to iOS 6. I don't even use Google Maps and I was going to avoid iOS 6 for fear of Stanza breaking again and forever.

Even with third-party apps, for example, I can still use my VLC player app even though it got yanked from the App Store.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:43 AM on September 20, 2012


I'm going to flag you down with a foul on that one; they're the most profitable, but that doesn't necessarily imply "biggest." I don't have numbers, but I'd be surprised if Apple employed as many people as, say, Microsoft.

Depending on the stock market, they are usually the most valuable company in the world on any given day.
posted by empath at 6:46 AM on September 20, 2012


Apparently, Stanza lives! Vive la Stanza!
posted by Egg Shen at 6:50 AM on September 20, 2012


No Google Maps = No iOS 6 for this iPad. No way. Thanks, Apple.
posted by VicNebulous at 7:28 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


To correct something upthread, Flyover does work on the iPad 2 (not as well as I hoped) along with spoken turn-by-turn directions. But I too am frustrated about the lack of those two features on my iPhone 4, which is running considerably slower since I upgraded to iOS 6 last night.

I actually kind of prefer the iOS 6 Maps navigation on the iPad 2 to Waze for iPad. The interface is much easier to read if I glance over to the iPad sitting on my passenger seat, and I don't have to squint or frantically scan around the screen while also trying to drive, which I sometimes have to do with Waze. I wonder if the interface has a nighttime color scheme. Haven't discovered that yet.

In general, Waze still has much better features overall, with crowdsourced routes, incident reports and police spotting. iOS Maps won't be replacing Waze for me, at least not yet.
posted by emelenjr at 7:29 AM on September 20, 2012


Well thanks to this thread, I think my mind has been well and truly made up not to upgrade to iOS6. And I'll be looking closely at Android phones when my iPhone4 is too long in the tooth.
posted by salmacis at 7:42 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone point me to a changelog that lists which of the new features are available on which hardware? I have a 4, and I'd like to see which changes I'd be getting were I to upgrade.
posted by nushustu at 7:54 AM on September 20, 2012


The Amazing ios6 Maps Tumblr
posted by octothorpe at 7:57 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Amazing OS6 Maps Tumbler!

I think this one to me shows best the paucity of detail and poor visual labelling choices that Apple has put into their new version. The more I use it, the more disappointed and frustrated I am getting.
posted by modernnomad at 7:58 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


For my own anecdata, I plugged in several local addresses that I knew exactly where they were. Consistently, the new Maps gets the location wrong by a block or so, in ways that would practically be either a minor problem or a more aggravating one (in cases where that "block or so" places a destination on the wrong side of a major highway, for instance). Google maps had that stuff down exactly.

But I know how they can spin this! The marketing can paint the new Apple Maps experience as reconnecting people with their surroundings. Ads can show users of competing products with boring exact locations missing the wonder and beauty around them, while iDevice users witness and experience all kinds of magic as they have the adventure of getting close enough to their location but then having the playful adventure of searching.

Future update can enhance the playful adventure by replacing boring old turn-by-turn guidance (turn-by-turn hardly thinks different) with warmer/colder feedback.
posted by Drastic at 7:59 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I find google navigator routing to be simplistic and far too focused on "the shortest distance" rather than "the best way".

Who does it better?

That's almost as bad as the transit layer in Los Angel....OH WAIT IT DOESN'T EXIST!

This GIF disagrees.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:03 AM on September 20, 2012


I've never lived a big city with decent public transit, so forgive me if this seems a bit clueless, but do people in this day and age really not know how to navigate their city without Google Maps?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:05 AM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I live in Seoul, South Korea. There are GREAT apps for transit, individual apps for subway, bus, etc. However, even with these installed and frequently used on my phone, Google Maps is my go-to for quick checks, finding unique locations, and getting a quick estimate on transit times, as most of the bus and subway apps don't link their route information to a real map, just an efficient infographic map.

South Korea is on the list for countries losing transit support - that solves any questions I had about buying an iPhone 5 or upgrading to the new OS.
posted by nile_red at 8:07 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never lived a big city with decent public transit, so forgive me if this seems a bit clueless, but do people in this day and age really not know how to navigate their city without Google Maps?

I live in New York and I use Google Maps almost daily to find the best route for getting places. When your city has 20 subway lines with 1,000 miles of track (both numbers made up by me), you don't always know exactly how to get somewhere.
posted by jessssse at 8:08 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Entropicamericana, if you live in a major city with 20+ subway lines and multiple ways of getting around, a good public transit app is golden in giving you the shortest route, informing you of station or line closures, and estimated travel times. Cities are big.

Furthermore, the apps are EVEN more useful when you are visiting a major metropolitan city to which you have never been before. I find it odd that you would even ask this. Yes, we all got around before good transit apps, but we all survived with crappy T9 before apple made touchscreen keyboards the default.
posted by modernnomad at 8:09 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Any idea what the red lines are supposed to indicate in this map?
posted by jessssse at 8:14 AM on September 20, 2012


Do people in this day and age really not know how to navigate their city without Google Maps?

Consulting your phone is a much better deal than standing on a street corner with a giant paper map and/or leaning over people on the subway trying to peer at the one map on the wall. It also helps with the "I've just come out of the subway and it's cloudy and I'm not entirely sure which direction I am facing" problem. Some people naturally orient more quickly than others and some cities are more gridlike and easy to locate yourself if you can find an intersection. Others are zooey and awful. Having some quick clear public transportation guidelines can not only make sense of these things but also give you information about which lines connect better or worse or with the least walking which is something you'd otherwise have to triangulate on your own.
posted by jessamyn at 8:20 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


do people in this day and age really not know how to navigate their city without Google Maps?

I live in the bay area where there are tons of different agencies all with different, terrible websites and apps. Since most routes require using multiple agencies services, this makes figuring out how to get around annoying as shit if I'm not in my own neighborhood going somewhere that I usually go.

Being able to open maps and see that there's a bus coming the next corner over in 2 minutes that will connect me in time for the train to get home is a pretty big fucking deal.

Take away transit directions and now the process is: where am I? Where's the nearest bus stop? What lines are there and where do they go? what time is the next one coming? How does that match up to my transfer? Does this shit even run at 11:30p on a Sunday? is there an express line anywhere around here? It's endless, sure I know where things are in my immediate neighborhood but I can't possibly know every bus, train, trolley, or ferry line and all their schedules for everywhere in the greater bay area.
posted by bradbane at 8:22 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's so funny to me: I could give a fuck about the maps apps before or after this change, but I am absolutely infuriated that iTunes on the iPhone still doesn't have the "shuffle by album" option that my iPod Classic has.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:22 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do people in this day and age really not know how to navigate their city without Google Maps?

I navigate by landmarks, so subways and gridded city blocks with a Starbucks on every corner are terrible for me. Before GPS navigation, I accepted that I would get lost a lot. I would literally schedule 20 minutes of "travelling in the wrong direction" time.

Needless to say, a smartphone has literally changed my life.
posted by muddgirl at 8:23 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do people in this day and age really not know how to navigate their city without Google Maps?

I have a really, really hard time visualizing two-dimensional data as three-dimensional data. My brain, regardless of whatever effort, just doesn't neatly do that. I've been living and walking around NYC for twenty years. I can hardly read a map without orienting it in the direction I'm walking, and I use maps to get around constantly because I can't really keep any but the most basic directions in my head. Before leaving the house, I would draw maps in a little notebook to make sure I got somewhere on time.

So, yes, in this day and age, I can't navigate this city without Google Maps. So hooray for Google Maps!
posted by griphus at 8:24 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I live in Seoul, South Korea. There are GREAT apps for transit, individual apps for subway, bus, etc. However, even with these installed and frequently used on my phone, Google Maps is my go-to for quick checks

I'm in a similar position and use Google Maps on my Android phone and my iPad all the time. Are there better apps available for many cities? Sure. But Google Maps generally handles directions and public transit pretty well. So when I'm in Hong Kong or Singapore or I have a twelve hour layover in Seoul I don't have to figure out which locale-specific app is the one to install. I just trust Google Maps to do a decent job of getting me around, even when I'm in an unfamiliar city where I don't speak the language.

Removing public transit from iOS Maps means I won't be upgrading to 6 any time soon.
posted by 6550 at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've lived in this city almost all my life. Here's what I've used Google maps for in the last week:

1. Where was that Chinese restaurant we went to the one time?
2. How bad is the traffic on the Interstate? Should I take that or the city streets to Mom's house?
3. Friend is visiting from Illinois and wants to avoid highways - is it simpler for him to take street X or street Y?
posted by desjardins at 8:34 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:37 AM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


do people in this day and age really not know how to navigate their city without Google Maps?
posted by entropicamericana


Both eponysterical and ironic.
posted by Nelson at 8:37 AM on September 20, 2012


holy crap, that maps tumblr that was just linked.. i was reading this thread last night and still planning to update this morning after I had a chance to clear 2.5gb of free space (wtf, come ON). now.. i'm not so sure. google maps is one app that I use every single day without fail. it is one of the 4 apps in have in the ios dock at the bottom of the screen. and this update looks AWFUL.

i have never been let down by google maps, ever. i know if i search for something, the app will find it, and it will be where it says. i have used that app to find my way down forest service roads, even out in some national parks. i trust it, and now i in order to update my phone i'm stuck with something that is a major downgrade.

google maps has exponential amounts of map data/imagery. apple and TomTom do not. and you know what, I do not want to have to continually be subject to a crowd-source updated mapping app when i had used, for YEARS now, a highly accurate and functional app that had the data in it already.

i usually am fine with whatever apple does. this is not ok, though.
posted by ninjew at 8:38 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Being able to open maps and see that there's a bus coming the next corner over in 2 minutes that will connect me in time for the train to get home is a pretty big fucking deal.

I can't state this strongly enough: Google Maps Transit is phenomenal. I used it recently to plan all kinds of travel in a completely unfamiliar city within seconds. I could easily determine whether I had time to walk to X restaurant and still catch Y train to the airport to catch Z plane. Within seconds.

Opening separate transit websites or skipping between applications is not a replacement. Google does Maps extremely well because they spend thousands of human hours building and maintaining the service. It's very clear Apple hasn't devoted near those resources on their own project. Replacing the service is unacceptable, but it's mostly because of what Malor has noted: That I cannot actually choose to install Google Maps without Apple granting that permission. That's absurd.
posted by odinsdream at 8:40 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think this one to me shows best the paucity of detail and poor visual labelling choices that Apple has put into their new version

On that, I wouldn't say the Apple version is worse, just different, which is problem in and of itself.

There's a similar comparison to my neighborhood, but as I zoom in on the new Apple Maps, the other streets become visible. I kind of how the number of streets portrayed changes based on zoom level.

*********************************************************************
If people are really bugged about the changes in the Maps App, they should definitely let Apple know, via this official Apple form.
*********************************************************************
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on September 20, 2012


Yeah, count me in as another iPhone user unwilling to update to iOS 6. I use the public transit directions all the time. Sure, I'm a real pro at getting around my city in the 5 or 6 neighborhoods where I live, work and frequently visit, but the city (and surrounding metro area) is large and there is no WAY I am going to know which of the hundreds of buses to take to get to an outlying area, where they connect, or when they run (some run on weekdays only, others have combined routes on weekends, etc). Of course it's possible to get directions before leaving home, but frequently, a bus is delayed for a whole hour, it's pouring, I miss a train, or something else happens that causes me to need to re-evaluate my route based on where I actually am, half-way there.
posted by Cygnet at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I An Outlier, Or Are Apple Products No Longer Easy To Use?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:37 AM on September 20 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


Superlative link, fascinating read. Thank you.
posted by kafziel at 9:12 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it "pitchforks out" for Scott Forstall, or is it a larger problem.

I'm going to go ahead and blame broccoli, because a management failure so soon after Mr Job's failure seems crass.
posted by panaceanot at 9:18 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I upgraded my developer phone (my old iPhone 4) and my iPad, but I'm leaving my main phone on iOS 5 until Maps improves or Google Maps for iOS comes out. The incompleteness and inaccuracy of data makes it unfit for purpose.
posted by acb at 9:19 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it true that it bumps you into Yelp every time you accidentally click on anything?

If you tap on a point of interest, it'll show the number of stars that the place has on Yelp under the place name. It's not like it launches a full screen Yelp app or anything.
posted by zsazsa at 9:38 AM on September 20, 2012


I used the turn-by-turn feature today and found it in need of a lot of work. I purposely made a wrong turn and took a shortcut to try to trick it, and while it did reroute it did so without notice. It also used "turn" to describe merging and keeping left (which the Google Maps does very well). I'm not sure how I feel on the total lack of detail...if that's intentional or simply a temporary feature while more content is added.

However, it seems to work and I have little doubt Apple will refine it a lot more. As long as I can still stream music over Bluetooth while navigation is running then I'm mostly a happy camper in that area.

Now if I can get this godawful "Tap to Tweet" bar in the Notification center removed I might actually be content.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:57 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: Yelp. Although it's not my favourite review tool, I do like the way they've integrated it so that it pulls up things like hours as well. That's actually pretty useful.

I hate (HATE!) though, that when you click on a location it has a car icon next to it, which is what gives you directions to that place from where-ever you are, rather than a redux of their directions icon. They at least give walking directions to places, so why they would choose to give visual prominence to driving directions in this way is beyond me.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:07 AM on September 20, 2012


gizmodo compares side-by-side

grrr.
posted by ninjew at 10:13 AM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now that Europe's waking up the full horror of maps here is being revealed. It's not just the lack of transit data, it's houses in the middle of roads, in the middle of rivers, or miles away from where they are.

Not to mention the age of some of the data - I'm seeing pins for shops that closed down almost a decade ago. Not little local shops in out of the way places, branches of long-dead national chains in town centres.

There's a certain sad poetry in seeing my local Our Price - a chain that specialised in selling compact disks for very slightly less than its rivals - glowing on the screen of an iPhone which contains MP3 rips of the CDs I bought there as a kid.
posted by jack_mo at 10:42 AM on September 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


gizmodo compares side-by-side

heh... You just know Gizmodo is loving this.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:55 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, a Google Maps update just hit my Android phone a couple minutes ago, adding extra control functionality and search. Somehow, despite some hefty integration into the OS, it doesn't require a major OS update or anything to push the latest version of the individual app!
posted by kafziel at 11:06 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somehow, despite some hefty integration into the OS, it doesn't require a major OS update or anything to push the latest version of the individual app!

Heh. That's why when anyone laughs when I tell them I'm running 2.2.x, I ask "what am I missing?" and I certainly can't remember any of the answers.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


gizmodo compares side-by-side

Well that was disappointing. They should have gone full screen with the devices and showed them side by side.

Also, iOS 6 wasn't that bad, imo. Where it fails most is search, and that's just a matter of building up the terms (e.g. Vatican, El Bulli).
posted by mrgrimm at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2012


I can run any damn program I want to - including the ones I write - on my iPhone. The only caveat is that there's a $100/year iOS developer fee.

But do you still have to have a Mac to develop on, in order to write your own damn programs? That's a pretty expensive hurdle, for those of us in the PC camp. (And if it's gone, I'll be very pleased to hear it!)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:23 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


America the Grotesque: An iOS 6 Maps Tour of National Landmarks
posted by desjardins at 11:24 AM on September 20, 2012


ManyLeggedCreature: "I can run any damn program I want to - including the ones I write - on my iPhone. The only caveat is that there's a $100/year iOS developer fee.

But do you still have to have a Mac to develop on, in order to write your own damn programs? That's a pretty expensive hurdle, for those of us in the PC camp. (And if it's gone, I'll be very pleased to hear it!)
"

No, you can develop iOS apps all day long on a PC using Air.
posted by mullingitover at 11:26 AM on September 20, 2012


Brandon Blatcher:
But having to ask permission to install and run programs? That literally isn't true.
Cool, so how do you install an app that Apple doesn't provide on an out-of-the-box iPhone?
posted by vsync at 11:40 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


America the Grotesque: An iOS 6 Maps Tour of National Landmarks

Yeeuugh, those angles are making me ill.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:41 AM on September 20, 2012


Oh and someone's already got a workaround for transit on GitHub.
posted by mullingitover at 11:43 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is Dash known to be hostile to Apple? Because this is a fairly devastating thing to say:

No, I like and use a lot of Apple products, and I think my wife bought a bunch of Apple stock a while back, so you know, if I have a bias it's probably in favor of Apple. Really I'm just skeptical of all multibillion-dollar publicly-traded companies.

Also, being called "Dash" makes me feel like I'm a grown-up or a real writer. Thanks!
posted by anildash at 11:44 AM on September 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hey Dash! Say hi to Rainbow for us!

I think it's kind of absurd that we talk about Apple products in terms of people being "hostile" to them. It's not a religion, and it's not a political party, dammit.
posted by JHarris at 11:50 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know it's a horribly trite thing to say, but I feel now (and felt at the time) that Peak Apple was the day Steve Jobs died. For some reason the magic just went out. Sure, he was a bastard, but you never knew what the bastard would do next. Now I feel like we know exactly what Apple is going to do next. MacOS is getting less and less pleasant to use (iCloud? AYFKM?). Apple's software resources are massively skewed towards iOS now.

A little example for you: Apple's pro music app Logic hasn't been updated for a long while. There have been rumours about Logic X for years, but it never seems to come. Recently, a little bird told me that the push has been to make a more 'pro' version of garageband for the iPad, and that Logic X, far from nearing release, isn't even in alpha yet.

Of course, there's complete silence from Apple on the subject. As a result, the userbase is drifting off to other apps.

None of this matters much to Apple so long as iOS remains the cash cow, I suppose, but having been a loyal fanboi for two decades, I really couldn't give a shit about Apple anymore, and I've been actively searching for another platform to move my desktop to.
posted by unSane at 12:00 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


No, you can develop iOS apps all day long on a PC using Air.

ADOBE. Blurgh. Also, the way you describe that reminds me of the Monsters of Megaphone. "Can't get enough of my automobile, drivin' it all day looong!"

I personally think the $100-a-year fee is prohibitive and ridiculous, especially on devices that often end up costing the user $200 themselves. I'm not going to let Apple hide behind a defense that sounds like "that's pocket change," because to some people, it's not. Especially people who would like to charge nothing for their software. And you have to pay it yearly.

What this Maps app business reveals isn't so much Apple's incompetence, but just how much effort Google put into Maps. Say what you want about their privacy problems (and as Blazecock Pileon reminds us, they do exist), but they delivered on that end at least. It's a hard problem.
posted by JHarris at 12:02 PM on September 20, 2012


This isn't my city, but it's the same kind of problem I've been running into - just a real lack of detail. My experiences with turn by turn have been mixed -- it's got no problem on major roads, though as someone noted upthread the fact that Siri says "turn right" when she means merge is annoying. But I have run into problems where the turn by turn tried to send me down back alleys that are not designed as through-roads, presumably with the idea that I could park in the alley and walk around the block until I could get to the front of the house where the door was.

I only bought my 4S last year so I've no interesting in investing in new hardware at this point, but if there aren't dramatic improvements over the next year or if Google declines or is prevented from issuing a stand alone app, I'll have to rethink my hardware choices, even though my preference is to remain with Apple. Maps are one of the core features for me in a smartphone, and using Apple's right now is like a timewarp. I think even the shitty old J2ME version of Google Maps I used on a crappy Sony candybar phone before switching to an iPhone were better than this in terms of usability and content.
posted by modernnomad at 12:13 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool, so how do you install an app that Apple doesn't provide on an out-of-the-box iPhone?

Ask the developer to submit it to the Apple Store.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:14 PM on September 20, 2012


But do you still have to have a Mac to develop on, in order to write your own damn programs? That's a pretty expensive hurdle, for those of us in the PC camp. (And if it's gone, I'll be very pleased to hear it!)

You have to buy a license of Windows to run Visual Studio, as well as buy a Windows computer, if you don't already have one. Then you have to buy the VS developer tools, if you plan to do any real dev work. That, too, is expensive, for those of us not in the PC camp, and I'm not aware Microsoft has changed this (the equivalent of limited VS demoware aside). All of which is to say that software development costs money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:15 PM on September 20, 2012


Wait, does the iPhone not update Apple apps between OS updates? I can see why that's such a big deal then.

The Google apps on Android update very frequently, at least monthly. My wife's phone, that's 2.2 had the same Maps, Play and Gmail (and third-party apps like Facebook) as my 4.1 Nexus S. The old 2.2 is annoying, sure, but at least the apps get updated.
posted by bonehead at 12:20 PM on September 20, 2012


America the Grotesque: An iOS 6 Maps Tour of National Landmarks

I don't get it. These are just what the landmarks look like from above, though the Brooklyn Bridge has some distortion. What is this supposed to be showing?
posted by stopgap at 12:22 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


bonehead: "Wait, does the iPhone not update Apple apps between OS updates? I can see why that's such a big deal then."

Apps are updated by developers in the iTunes store, irrespective of the OS updates. The iPhone App Store alerts you that there are updates available, and you can download/update at your leisure, either through your phone or in iTunes on a desktop computer by physically syncing your phone.
posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on September 20, 2012


I don't get it. These are just what the landmarks look like from above, though the Brooklyn Bridge has some distortion. What is this supposed to be showing?

Well, here's what their ads promise.
posted by VoteBrian at 12:27 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ask the developer to submit it to the Apple Store.

This is really getting old now.
posted by odinsdream at 12:27 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


On preview, "promise" may be too strong a word.
posted by VoteBrian at 12:27 PM on September 20, 2012


Apps are updated by developers in the iTunes store, irrespective of the OS updates. The iPhone App Store alerts you that there are updates available, and you can download/update at your leisure, either through your phone or in iTunes on a desktop computer by physically syncing your phone.

The question is not about "apps in general", but rather the specific Apple-made Apps that come pre-installed.
posted by kafziel at 12:30 PM on September 20, 2012


Sure, built in apps can get updates between major yearly releases. But they would be lumped in with a point release of the operating system.
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:37 PM on September 20, 2012


There's no chance that apple would prevent google from submitting their own maps application. There tons of map apps available for the iPhone and the "duplicate functionality" rule hasn't been in effect for years.
posted by The Lamplighter at 12:39 PM on September 20, 2012


being called "Dash" makes me feel like I'm a grown-up or a real writer.

Or a puppy?

I accept all the criticisms here - I don't really mind the problems as I personally don't use the maps app for many of the things it currently fails at anyway - but am playing with Central London in the 3d view on my iPad and giggling like a loon. I think that's where all the work went. I suspect they just need to build up a lot of real-world data now. Currently poking around in the back garden of 10 Downing Street.

Admittedly outside the very centre it quickly goes very flat, but that bit's a lot of fun.
posted by Grangousier at 12:53 PM on September 20, 2012


kafziel: " The question is not about "apps in general", but rather the specific Apple-made Apps that come pre-installed."

Oops. Sorry. Yes, they do get updated individually -- usually if there's a bug fix or something.
posted by zarq at 12:53 PM on September 20, 2012


iOS 6 Maps Aren't Just Bad, They're Dangerous
posted by Egg Shen at 1:10 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's no chance that apple would prevent google from submitting their own maps application. There tons of map apps available for the iPhone and the "duplicate functionality" rule hasn't been in effect for years.

Yeah, I'm not sure why so much of the discussion is about what Apple would or wouldn't let Google do on iOS. I would have thought the real issue is that it's in Google's interest to make any mapping application on iOS, that uses their services, worse that what's available on Android, since they have a vested interest in that.

Much like the way Microsoft Office has always been (more) crippled and buggy on Macs. Except in this case, the product is good.
posted by iotic at 1:11 PM on September 20, 2012


It's not a religion, and it's not a political party, dammit.

Hey, they're the ones who hired evangelists.
posted by Gary at 1:21 PM on September 20, 2012


Serious question - what do people use 3D maps for, besides "Wooo! That's my house! Wow, look at the Grand Canyon! It's like I'm flying!" Is there any practical use? It's okay if there isn't, but I'd rather not have the bloat and lag if I'm literally never going to use it.
posted by desjardins at 1:36 PM on September 20, 2012


Serious question - what do people use 3D maps for, besides "Wooo! That's my house! Wow, look at the Grand Canyon! It's like I'm flying!" Is there any practical use? It's okay if there isn't, but I'd rather not have the bloat and lag if I'm literally never going to use it.

I found the 3D maps on the iPhone compelling in a strange way as Siri was leading us around the city, for kicks and laughs. It was the different, I think, between looking at an abstract representation of the city and being in a city. 3D makes the city itself seem more alive, just on the map level, due to actually moving a facsimile of space, instead of two dimensionally.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:42 PM on September 20, 2012


9 to 5 Mac is reporting Google has submitted a Maps app to Apple for review. Once it is approved, you may move along to discussing ScuffGate- alleged wear of the anodized aluminum on the black phones. Also, I heard Tim Cook may have kicked a puppy once.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:47 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Having complained about the Maps thing – it still bugs me – I think the dire predictions of impending mass outrage are completely overblown. I don't think people will be rioting in the streets over this. I don't even think people will be so annoyed at Apple. Anil Dash is right – the user experience just went downhill – but the lesson Microsoft taught us is that people cling to what works, even when it just barely works. People might complain a little, but they'll forget about this and happily return to pre-iPhone levels of smartphone mapping tech without worrying too much. Us geeks have a huge problem with it. Most people don't care enough to.
posted by koeselitz at 1:48 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


In more Apple-related IP news, just this floating around on Twitter -- apparently Apple is being asked for financial compensation after copying the famous Swiss Railway Clock in their new iPad clock app without authorization.
posted by modernnomad at 1:52 PM on September 20, 2012


Also, I heard Tim Cook may have kicked a puppy once.

You've been reading Courageous Dynamite again, haven't you?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:52 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've been reading Courageous Dynamite again, haven't you?

The famous Samsung blog? How'd you know?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:56 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


9 to 5 Mac is reporting Google has submitted a Maps app to Apple for review.

That's a relief. I hope Apple allows it to hook directly into contacts, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by modernnomad at 1:57 PM on September 20, 2012


you may move along to discussing ScuffGate

Scuffpocalypse!
posted by Egg Shen at 2:01 PM on September 20, 2012


You have to buy a license of Windows to run Visual Studio, as well as buy a Windows computer, if you don't already have one. Then you have to buy the VS developer tools, if you plan to do any real dev work.

I'm going to dispute that. You're defining whatever you want as "real" dev work and hoping that causes the reader to unthinkingly discard whole categories of PC development.

There are many paths to creating valid PC software. There are increasingly many to creating valid iOS software too, but the great majority of them have to pass through a Mac at some point in their lifecycle.
posted by JHarris at 2:03 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Scuffleupagus!
posted by entropicamericana at 2:03 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Serious question - what do people use 3D maps for, besides "Wooo! That's my house! Wow, look at the Grand Canyon! It's like I'm flying!" Is there any practical use?

Theoretically it could be helpful in orientation but TBH the grey building outlines mostly do the job.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on September 20, 2012


Serious question - what do people use 3D maps for, besides "Wooo! That's my house! Wow, look at the Grand Canyon! It's like I'm flying!" Is there any practical use? It's okay if there isn't, but I'd rather not have the bloat and lag if I'm literally never going to use it.

It is pretty much just a good demo still. That being said, using the new Flyover on iPad is mind blowing in the same way that Google Earth was however many years ago. There is a ridiculous amount of detail, and it is far more accurate than previous modeling technologies.

On the other hand, Apple may have been better served to spend more of their war chest on basic mapping. Mixed in with the "OMG there are clouds in this satellite photo LOLWTF!" complaints on that Tumblr are some serious map errors. Apple is at least a couple years from catching up here.
posted by stopgap at 2:07 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


desjardins: “Serious question - what do people use 3D maps for, besides "Wooo! That's my house! Wow, look at the Grand Canyon! It's like I'm flying!" Is there any practical use? It's okay if there isn't, but I'd rather not have the bloat and lag if I'm literally never going to use it.”

Well, on the Google front anyway, presumably 3D maps will be semi-useful when they're an extension of indoor maps, a crowdsourced initiative they're trying where they have people upload the floorplans of public buildings so that it might be easier to navigate inside, ie, large malls or airports. But it seems like we're a while away from (a) having that be any kind of comprehensive or (b) fluid enough to be a useful part of a mobile mapping app.
posted by koeselitz at 2:16 PM on September 20, 2012


a crowdsourced initiative they're trying where they have people upload the floorplans of public buildings so that it might be easier to navigate inside

They're not even totally crowdsourcing it, as near as I can tell. There have been several public libraries approached in my area who have given floorplans to Google who then come and do interior photography so you'll be able to walk around inside the library [and presumably browse books? it's a little opaque to us what they're planning at this point] with their 3D modeling. I've always used the flying thing when I map walks with mapmywalk and want to show them to someone else "Hey I walked around Charlotte NC today, let me show you what I saw" which is actually sort of useful, not in an "I would miss it if it weren't there" way but it's a fun way to share experiences with someone who isn't with you.
posted by jessamyn at 2:24 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a relief. I hope Apple allows it to hook directly into contacts, but I'm not holding my breath.

Why wouldn't it? Plenty of apps link straight into contacts; the fact that they could do so w/o user approval is what led to the brouhaha not that long ago. Now the user is asked for permission ala location services but it's a one time (or is it two? I forget) dialog.
posted by phearlez at 2:24 PM on September 20, 2012


TBH Streetview does the semi-VR thing in a much more useful fashion.
posted by Artw at 2:25 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was going to say streetview. I use it all the time to see what a building looks like before I go there. Seeing what it looks like FROM ABOVE is not that helpful.
posted by desjardins at 2:40 PM on September 20, 2012


man, I'm cranky today.
posted by desjardins at 2:40 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess eventually Streetview and the 3D models will be indistinguishable, and you'll get something like ond of those 3D laser maps.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on September 20, 2012


They're not even totally crowdsourcing it, as near as I can tell. There have been several public libraries approached in my area who have given floorplans to Google who then come and do interior photography so you'll be able to walk around inside the library [and presumably browse books? it's a little opaque to us what they're planning at this point] with their 3D modeling. I've always used the flying thing when I map walks with mapmywalk and want to show them to someone else "Hey I walked around Charlotte NC today, let me show you what I saw" which is actually sort of useful, not in an "I would miss it if it weren't there" way but it's a fun way to share experiences with someone who isn't with you.

TBH Streetview does the semi-VR thing in a much more useful fashion.

One of my favorite features of Google Maps for Android is the interior "Street" View. It's really amazing to use it in compass mode mode, which uses the device's accelerometer and gyroscope. It feels amazingly close to actually looking into the place. Here is the interior of one of my favorite stores, Sahadi's. Definitely open the link in Google Maps and turn on compass mode if you have an Android device.
posted by jessssse at 2:44 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was going to say streetview. I use it all the time to see what a building looks like before I go there. Seeing what it looks like FROM ABOVE is not that helpful.

*scoff* Spoken like somebody that doesn't have the new iJetpack.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:45 PM on September 20, 2012


Why wouldn't it? Plenty of apps link straight into contacts;

Sorry, I meant link in as a default mapping service when you click on a contact. For instance, you can download replacement web browsers, but you can't make them the default web handlers. Same with email addresses - you can't make anything other than iOS's mail app open up when you click on an email address.

If clicking on a contact's address in "Contacts" still launches Apple's own Maps, then it's going to be fiddly to use. I assume a workaround would be to launch the hypothetical Google Maps app first, then access your contacts using that.
posted by modernnomad at 2:55 PM on September 20, 2012


Sources tell AllThingsD that the team assigned to the app is under lockdown right now working to fix it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:55 PM on September 20, 2012


You forgot the last part of the quote there, which reads... "But it’s unfortunate that it was ever released in this condition in the first place. Mapping applications are awfully hard to do well. Apple certainly knows this. And for a while, at least, it has a rough road ahead."

I think question is, how long is this rough ride going to last?
posted by modernnomad at 2:59 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The official word:

We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.

Not to kick them when they're down, but that is some mealy mouthing.

Like, maybe you should have waited to release until you were a bit further along than "just getting started"?
posted by Egg Shen at 3:01 PM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think question is, how long is this rough ride going to last?

A good question. Most of the problems with the new maps app were reported after the beta release in the summer. The coming trainwreck was so clear that I'm surprised so little has changed since then.
posted by stopgap at 3:02 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


That makes me wonder if they might just pull the satellite view entirely until it's ready for prime time – obviously the Amazing Vanishing Statue of Liberty and melty bridges aren't going to be fixed overnight, but every twitpic showing them off is a black eye for Apple, and it's not especially useful in its current state. Maps can be fixed procedurally with more current information acquired from third parties, but they have to go out and get the images.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:06 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how quickly the world has turned to pounce on Apple's maps. There's no doubt it's a bad product right now and released too early. it's a strange misstep for a company so normally fixated on excellent user experience. Particularly since Maps is literally the top feature Apple is touting for iOS 6.

The question is how long it will take to fix. How long has Apple been working on these maps? They were buying mapping companies as far back as 2009, so I'm guessing it's been quite awhile.
posted by Nelson at 3:12 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh Snap! at the London Underground
posted by desjardins at 3:13 PM on September 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh Snap! at the London Underground

Ha! Although Hackney Wick is on the London Overground.
posted by grouse at 3:18 PM on September 20, 2012


Oh Snap! at the London Underground

Steve Jobs is having one hell of fit, wherever he is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:22 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Steve Jobs is having one hell of fit, wherever he is.

I was shocked that Siri didn't know where he's buried.

It seemed so heartless of her.
posted by Egg Shen at 3:23 PM on September 20, 2012


You forgot the last part of the quote there

I didn't forget it. I just thought the notion that the problem would be getting fixed was more interesting and relevant and useful to this subject, than the weird shame game this has become. My mistake for leaving out what's really and truly important about all of this, I suppose.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 PM on September 20, 2012


Until we know exactly when it will be fixed and what Apple believes "fixed" will entail, then really some suggestion that people are "working on it" isn't really all that re-assuring.
posted by modernnomad at 3:43 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, these mapping issues have been around since beta 1 of iOS6. I still find it hard to comprehend how Apple released it in the state it's in. It's not something they can fix overnight, or surely they would have done it over the summer beta test months.
posted by modernnomad at 3:44 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whatever it is, it almost certainly won't be enough for some people, like when Apple was offering a choice between returns and refunds or a free bumper after "Antennagate."
posted by entropicamericana at 3:45 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure most people would be satisfied with something on par with the perfectly good mapping application that was included in iOS 5.
posted by modernnomad at 3:49 PM on September 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Until we know exactly when it will be fixed and what Apple believes "fixed" will entail, then really some suggestion that people are "working on it" isn't really all that re-assuring.

There is a world of difference between this statement and the accusation of bad faith you leveled at me. But for whatever it is worth, I generally agree with the sentiment that the situation deserves clarification for iOS 6 users.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:49 PM on September 20, 2012


[usual suspects, stop please.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:50 PM on September 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not sure why so much of the discussion is about what Apple would or wouldn't let Google do on iOS. I would have thought the real issue is that it's in Google's interest to make any mapping application on iOS, that uses their services, worse that what's available on Android, since they have a vested interest in that.

Given that Google make their revenue from advertising, rather than Android sales or licensing, and made more money from iOS traffic than Android traffic, in part due to their Maps app, it'd be in their interest to get an iOS Maps app that knocks Apple's app into a cocked hat out as soon as possible. In fact, the worst thing that could happen would be for Apple's app to noticeably improve while Google's is nowhere to be seen, to the point where people don't bother to download Google's.
posted by acb at 4:43 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lots of third-party iOS apps display Google maps underneath—weather apps, Yelp, and the like. So are those third-party apps getting the map tiles straight from Google, or are they getting them from some kind of "display a map" API in iOS that used to get its imagery from Google, but which would now presumably serve up Apple's equivalent?
posted by Lazlo at 5:55 PM on September 20, 2012


There is a MapKit API in iOS that lets developers embed maps in apps. The data now come from Apple instead of Google.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:02 PM on September 20, 2012


Lots of third-party iOS apps display Google maps underneath—weather apps, Yelp, and the like. So are those third-party apps getting the map tiles straight from Google, or are they getting them from some kind of "display a map" API in iOS that used to get its imagery from Google, but which would now presumably serve up Apple's equivalent?

They use iOS's Map Kit API, which creates and manages the map view, on which the app can navigate and place markers. In iOS 6, the Map Kit API switches from Google's map tiles to Apple's vector-based engine.
posted by acb at 6:02 PM on September 20, 2012


(For iOS 6 apps, anyway. Apps running under 5 and earlier will use Google's data for however long Google has licensed their data.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:04 PM on September 20, 2012


They use iOS's Map Kit API, which creates and manages the map view, on which the app can navigate and place markers. In iOS 6, the Map Kit API switches from Google's map tiles to Apple's vector-based engine.

As has been said, Google's map is just as vector-based as Apple's attempt to clone 'em.
posted by kafziel at 6:10 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


In iOS 6, the Map Kit API switches from Google's map tiles to Apple's vector-based engine.

That's depressing. I really hope apple backtracks on this. I've been an iPhone fan from day one, have never considered buying another phone, but maps was probably my second most frequent used app after the browser and if they don't get the google maps app working again, I am going to look long and hard at android and windows phones for my next upgrade.
posted by empath at 6:13 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


messed up ios6 maps tumblr

Also if check the Apple jobs site, they are looking for 6 new developers for maps. Did they fire the old team or just bringing in reinforcements.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:33 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


As has been said, Google's map is just as vector-based as Apple's attempt to clone 'em.

The back end is (well, it's a database of marked-up paths and polygons), and the Android and WebGL front ends are vector-based, but the iOS app still uses the same legacy tile-based technology that the non-WebGL web version does.
posted by acb at 6:36 PM on September 20, 2012



That's depressing. I really hope apple backtracks on this. I've been an iPhone fan from day one, have never considered buying another phone, but maps was probably my second most frequent used app after the browser and if they don't get the google maps app working again, I am going to look long and hard at android and windows phones for my next upgrade.


Apparently, if you just want maps and don't care about third-party apps, Google-branded Android is the way to go.
posted by acb at 6:37 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure most people would be satisfied with something on par with the perfectly good mapping application that was included in iOS 5.

Well actually, no. That was the point of my question—any third-party apps that use the MapKit API will be stuck with Apple's maps regardless of whether or not there's a new standalone app from Google. So any inadequacies in Apple's dataset has a material effect on those developers.

I can easily live without the transit info or Street View (which is so buried in the old interface that I'd forgotten it was even supported on iOS), but having third-party apps affected actually tips me over into the "not upgrading until I get some real hands-on time with the new version" bucket.
posted by Lazlo at 7:26 PM on September 20, 2012


The Maps app is just hilariously awful in Japan, and Apple is getting roundly criticized for it by the Japanese bloggers and press. I mean, things like: stations named "Pachinko Gundam" and "McDonalds"; the country's two largest airports being named as a tunnel and a paper factory; locations written in Hangul, not Japanese; etc.

They did absolutely zero quality assurance before releasing this in Japan. None. And it is embarrassing and inexcusable, seeing as how Japan is one of Apple's largest markets.
posted by armage at 8:35 PM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ask the developer to submit it to the Apple Store.
Brandon Blatcher, perhaps something was lost in translation. I was curious how to, as you suggested, install software on an iPhone without pre-approval from Apple.
posted by vsync at 10:43 PM on September 20, 2012


I'm sure the new Google maps application will be approved quickly. Perhaps even too quickly, like the original Gmail application that had a huge bug that popped up a push notification error message as soon as it was opened.

Also, I think that for most people (in the US anyway) the new maps application is an improvement over the old only because it has turn by turn driving direction. What percentage of Americans take public transportation to work? 2%?
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:09 AM on September 21, 2012


The Lamplighter: "Also, I think that for most people (in the US anyway) the new maps application is an improvement over the old only because it has turn by turn driving direction. What percentage of Americans take public transportation to work? 2%."

That's nice, but you appear to have misread the bit in the FPP about the rest of us:
"But the numbers are that 63 countries with a combined population of 4.5 billion people will lose at least one of the traffic, transit, or street views they had before."
posted by barnacles at 1:16 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


You might have to be logged into Facebook to see this, but obligatory TfL iOS6 snark.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:09 AM on September 21, 2012


Oh damnit, someone already posted that. Sorry.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:11 AM on September 21, 2012


Brandon Blatcher, perhaps something was lost in translation. I was curious how to, as you suggested, install software on an iPhone without pre-approval from Apple.

Hey. You were responding to a comment that was in response to a statement of Malor's, namely that one has to ask permission to install and run and App. As written, the sentence makes it sound like one has to do that for every App, which is literally untrue. If anything the 'problem' with installing Apps on is that its too easy and one can easily wind up with a zillion Apps, just by poking around.

Yes, I get his larger point, as mentioned in my comment, that only Apple approved apps can be installed on iDevices. That is not a problem for me personally. For others, it is. *shrugs* People are different.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:38 AM on September 21, 2012


And they've purged Austria of the town of Fucking. Though they've left the name on all the streets there.
posted by acb at 4:07 AM on September 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


AnandTech.com has released their review of iOS 6 and they don't seem to be joining the panic party as they thoroughly investigate Apple Maps.

Here is their YouTube video providing a side-by-side comparison with Google Maps running on an Android phone.
posted by fairmettle at 4:27 AM on September 21, 2012


People might complain a little, but they'll forget about this and happily return to pre-iPhone levels of smartphone mapping tech without worrying too much. Us geeks have a huge problem with it. Most people don't care enough to.

I think you're right that for a lot of people, the weak Apple maps will just be an inconvenience and certainly not one that will cause them to dump their iOS devices. However, a lot of non-geeks that I know own iphones and ipads not for the features, but for the social cachet of owning a top brand. They may not be able to afford a luxury car or watch, but they have a luxury phone and tablet.

This is an important market for Apple and one that depends on being able to maintain the verisimilitude of preeminence. When an iphone user borrows a friend's Android phone to figure out the best way home from the bar, that social cachet is shattered.

As I said, I don't expect many users to flock to Jelly Bean devices over this (there is no Apple Data Liberation Front, for a start), but Cupertino will have to move quickly to avoid those first cracks appearing in the image of natural superiority. There's a lot of market cap tied up in that.

We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it.

Wow. That's some of the poorest corporate messaging I've heard in some time.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:01 AM on September 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here is their YouTube video providing a side-by-side comparison with Google Maps running on an Android phone.

Ugh, he spends half the video stuck at stop lights or waiting to get through intersections. That would be bad enough in real life, but I can't take it in a video. How do people deal with that every day? I watched to where he refused to go down the parallel side streets so he could take the major street with stop lights at every intersection before I gave up.
posted by stopgap at 6:18 AM on September 21, 2012


Also, I think that for most people (in the US anyway) the new maps application is an improvement over the old only because it has turn by turn driving direction. What percentage of Americans take public transportation to work? 2%?

Based on the feedback thus far, would you trust the Apple Maps to route you to your destination? I sure wouldn't. I'm always a bit wary of even Google Maps, but it's actually never steered me wrong. This clearly would. Turn-by-turn directions are useless if it doesn't know where to take you.
posted by odinsdream at 6:31 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Based on the feedback thus far, would you trust the Apple Maps to route you to your destination?

The iOS6 Maps App did fine directing us around Savannah, GA, which is not a large town. I have no doubt the App is far from perfect and could get someone lost. But then again, so did the previous App, when I was tooling around the back roads of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 AM on September 21, 2012


What percentage of Americans take public transportation to work? 2%?

More like 5% nationally, but that number increases tenfold when you go to big cities like NYC which literally has over half the population taking public transit to work. This is one of those things they count in the census.
posted by jessamyn at 7:24 AM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


If Apple aggressively applies a multifaceted approach to this issue, incorporating user feedback and frequent updates as well as acknowledgement of their fuckup I can see this turning out OK, but anyway you slice it, this is their New Coke moment. As a shareholder and someone with 3 other family members and countless relatives in their ecosystem, there isn't a single appropriate defense for rolling this out in it's current form. If the best we can say is that certain areas of the country are "fine", that's depressing. For me the saddest thing was realizing the loss of transit. I use it at most once or twice a year, always when travelling in a big city, but I can say that being able to competently get around NYC or SFO with an iPhone was so mindbendingly cool that I've never forgotten it. For the everyday user it's crushing, but for the periodic traveller it's like realizing your favorite travel writer has died. I can see how one could duplicate the same or similar functionality with the web application but again, it's a poor justification.

There was a link upthread that made a comment about how bad Apple's native apps are. I have to agree - Stocks, Game Center, Weather - they just suck. Other than Remote I have all of them boxed up in a gulag on my last screen. That has never detracted from the overall iPhone experience - it was more like getting a whiff of a bad fart from a supermodel.

I would put money on the real PR debacle showing up in about 1-2 weeks when the first reports start appearing of less savvy iPhone 5 owners being steered into a map-induced accident or worse, along the lines of James Kim.
posted by docpops at 7:30 AM on September 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


There was a link upthread that made a comment about how bad Apple's native apps are. I have to agree - Stocks, Game Center, Weather - they just suck. Other than Remote I have all of them boxed up in a gulag on my last screen.

Same here, except for the equally useless (to me) Newsstand app which Apple refuses to let you place in a grouping.

I'd forgotten about this. And now that I've been reminded, I do feel like playing the shame game.

OK, I can see an argument against letting users delete native apps. (Though frankly it doesn't seem like an insuperable technical challenge.) But that there is no possible justification for refusing to let users group them is proved by the fact that Apple lets you do just that - except for Newsstand.

You're telling me Newsstand is more important to be kept visible than, say, Settings? Really? Or are you just determined to cram that fucker down my throat?

So now I've got to vent. HEY APPLE! YER MAPS SUCK!
posted by Egg Shen at 7:51 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there a faster weather app than the default one? I've tried maybe three or four, but when I want the weather, I just need to know how many degrees it is right now, and what it'll be like in the evening. That's it. Nothing has yet been simpler than the default app, which sucks because it's not a great app.
posted by griphus at 7:56 AM on September 21, 2012


Also the iPhone Calendar app isn't great if you have a particularly cramped schedule, but the iPad one is awesome.
posted by griphus at 7:57 AM on September 21, 2012


There's no sinister conspiracy to keep Newsstand visible; it just happens to be implemented as a folder and Springboard doesn't allow you to put one folder in another. So it's more of a crappy UI accident than a deliberate attempt to force you to use Apple's app.
posted by Nelson at 8:23 AM on September 21, 2012


Pfft, if you could group Newsstand it would detract from the delirious glory of having a small ugly-ass picture of some empty wooden shelves sat on your homescreen forever. Apple apps have their own screen on the far end of my home pages that I never ever visit except to laugh at them.

Two years on I'm still astounded by the fantastic hardware of my iPod Touch 4th Gen (except the bloody button, which sucks), and still bemused by the amateur-hour Apple software that infests it. Why, for example, when they plucked the pull-down tray from their imaginations, did they not put controls for brightness, music playback, rotation, and app switching on there? Why in iOS6 are they still relegated to the hilariously unreliable double tap* on the Hate Button when I can, for some reason, tweet from the Genius Tray?

* I mean, "double, no triple, no wait what's going on now I'm back on the homescreen and everything looks like a photo negative" tap.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:28 AM on September 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


I've stopped using the Home button on the iPad. Four-finger swipe up and down to show/hide the recently used app list, and then swipe left to access various controls for music playback, volume, brightness, etc. Five-finger pinch to return to the Home screen when inside most apps. I suppose there isn't enough screen real estate on the iPhone for multi-finger touch gestures.
posted by emelenjr at 8:35 AM on September 21, 2012


There's no sinister conspiracy to keep Newsstand visible; it just happens to be implemented as a folder and Springboard doesn't allow you to put one folder in another. So it's more of a crappy UI accident than a deliberate attempt to force you to use Apple's app.

Sad as a "crappy UI accident" defense is coming from Apple, it doesn't hold water.

Even if we assume that somehow no one noticed "Uh, hey, guys? We're creating a folder instead of an app?", the fact remains that the ensuing "folder" is one that nothing else can be stored in.

So I'm sticking with "deliberate attempt to force you to use it".
posted by Egg Shen at 8:55 AM on September 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why, for example, when they plucked the pull-down tray from their imaginations, did they not put controls for brightness, music playback, rotation, and app switching on there? Why in iOS6 are they still relegated to the hilariously unreliable double tap* on the Hate Button when I can, for some reason, tweet from the Genius Tray?

This, and the whole Newsstand thing, are easily solvable by jailbreaking your device and installing SBSettings and NoNewsIsGoodNews. SBSettings lets you put a row of toggle buttons into the drop-down notification pane, which is great for flipping Bluetooth on and off, or adjusting brightness without doing the home double-tap thing.

Jailbreaking took like five minutes to accomplish, totally worth it. That's one of the big reasons I'll be avoiding iOS6 until a break is available.
posted by odinsdream at 9:10 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, man. AT&T is just all kinds of fucked up today.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:49 AM on September 21, 2012


That's one of the big reasons I'll be avoiding iOS6 until a break is available.

I thought that happened yesterday.

Ah:

"The 1st note is: This is a TETHERED JAILBREAK.
The 2nd note is: This TETHERED JAILBREAK will work on A4 devices ONLY.

Moreover, there is no jailbreak tool at the moment that would install Cydia on iOS 6 which means that you will have to install Cydia MANUALLY."
posted by mrgrimm at 10:56 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. AT&T is just all kinds of fucked up today.

I'll be the cliche.

Today?
posted by phearlez at 11:03 AM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, man. AT&T is just all kinds of fucked up today.

I'll be the cliche.

Today?


I actively hide AT&T Facebook ads with the request "Hide all ads from AT&T" and for the reason I enter Other: "AT&T is EVIL" but they keep showing me AT&T ads.

/truestory
posted by mrgrimm at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2012


Is there a faster weather app than the default one? I've tried maybe three or four, but when I want the weather, I just need to know how many degrees it is right now, and what it'll be like in the evening. That's it. Nothing has yet been simpler than the default app, which sucks because it's not a great app.

You can get the temperature from notification center. I can't see any third party app being faster than that.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:34 AM on September 21, 2012


Is there a faster weather app than the default one?

Weather Underground shows the temp, current conditions, the next 3 days (swipe for the following 3 days), and a radar map that you can enlarge. Plus weather alerts (you can choose notifications or tell it to STFU).
posted by desjardins at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2012


Why is it that if you get a notification on your lock screen (say, new mail), you can't just tap it to go to the new mail? When I swipe to unlock, it just takes me to my home screen and then I have to tap on the mail app. Is there some magic that I'm missing?
posted by desjardins at 11:47 AM on September 21, 2012


desjardins: You can swipe the icon of the notification to go directly to that item. You have to start far left and go all the way to the right. Took me nigh on a year to figure that out.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, on your lock screen, when there are notifications, swipe left to right on any notification in order to open that directly. It's just like unlocking your screen, but you control what comes up first.

Also, if you're using an app and you get a notification bar at the top of the screen you can swipe right to left on that notification to make it go away.
posted by nushustu at 12:00 PM on September 21, 2012


I just thought the notion that the problem would be getting fixed was more interesting and relevant and useful to this subject, than the weird shame game this has become.

Fixing maps is much more than locking a few programmers away for a couple of weeks with constant delivery of pizza. Maps are much harder than that and take real money and lots of time to get right.

I work with people involved in major mapping projects, tens of thousands of square kilometers on scales similar to what Google uses as their highest resolution layer. These projects suck up multi-millions of dollars and take very skilled people months to do properly. It has to be a continuous, on-going process. It never stops. It's one thing to just get a bunch of satellite or aircraft imagery (which has to be carefully georeferenced, people notice even a couple of meters error), it's another thing entirely to generate base reference layer information from it. It's all hand-work too, it's very hard to do automated.

I have no doubt that Apple can do it if they put the effort in. Starting from scratch though, they are going to need several more years to get up to speed. Mapping isn't something you can just do from scratch in a day. There will need to be Apple cars or planes traveling all over the world for them to do this right and they just don't seem to have that infrastructure yet.

I am surprised that Apple thought they could just buy the geoinformation and that that would be good enough for their users. QA/QC is really important for maps data.
posted by bonehead at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am surprised that Apple thought they could just buy the geoinformation and that that would be good enough for their users.

To be fair, the only people who know the full backstory here aren't talking. Maybe Apple wanted to boot Google off the iPhone for disentanglement, user data, hubris, or just spite. Maybe Google wanted more cash. Maybe Google knew Apple couldn't have a competitive offering ready in time and this would be a black eye for them. Maybe Google just wanted a separate app so users would know when they were using Google Maps and not just a generic maps app. There isn't even any finger-pointing, so I suspect there are contractual reasons they can't discuss the negotiations or disparage each other.
posted by stopgap at 12:52 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


They should do a search engine next. That's easy, right?
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


To be fair, the only people who know the full backstory here aren't talking.

Yeah, but it's not hard at all to guess why Apple would want to reduce their reliance on Google services, considering that Google manufactures competitors and makes the Android OS. And notice that the built-in YouTube app is gone now too, that's surely related.
posted by JHarris at 1:03 PM on September 21, 2012


The two are involved by several nasty lawsuits directly and by proxy. That alone seems reason enough to me.
posted by bonehead at 2:15 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


At this business scale, you're constantly doing business with the people you are suing. Hell, Apple is suing Samsung left and right while at the same time relying on Samsung to manufacture half the parts for their products.

The Google / Apple schism is more personal though. So maybe this is just spite. Still crazy for Apple to make this switch before they were ready with a product.
posted by Nelson at 3:03 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fixing maps is much more than locking a few programmers away for a couple of weeks with constant delivery of pizza. Maps are much harder than that and take real money and lots of time to get right.

For whatever it is worth, I agree that the maps have problems, but I've read and re-read the sentence you quoted and I did not make any of the above claims. Still, again, for whatever it is worth, I am glad that Apple understands this is an issue for people and that improvements will be coming.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:13 PM on September 21, 2012


Given that Apple have vast amounts of cash, could they buy their way out of this hole? The quickest solution would be to buy Garmin or someone, and spend a month converting their premium navigation app into a standard iOS component. With more time, they would have to do what Google did: build fleets of cars and trikes and navigate every road, all the while negotiating with various governments and regulatory bodies. (If you want to build maps of Europe or North America, that's reasonably straight forward; if you want to do, say, Russia or somewhere, they could probably stop you, just because. And don't even think about China, where the provision of geodata is severely regulated and almost everything is technically a state secret.)
posted by acb at 7:10 PM on September 21, 2012


Garmin would be ideal, but it's been privately held by its founders since the company started. If they were up for sale, I think they would have been snapped up by one of the big fish ages ago. They haven't licensed their products to any of the cell phone makers either, afaik. They did the nuviphone co-branded thing with Asus a couple of years ago, but that doesn't seem to really have gone anywhere.
posted by bonehead at 7:23 PM on September 21, 2012


Blazecock, I don't he meant to imply that you had, I think he was just saying the two-weeks-and-pizza thing for hyperbole's sake. I don't think he has any real figures on how much effort Apple's sunk into the new Maps, just that it's hard, harder maybe than Apple expected.
posted by JHarris at 7:31 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I lived through the whole Random Shutdown Sydrome Macbook thing with the 1st gens and Apple was really weird about even admitting that there was a problem with those, so I can't imagine that they're going to be very much like "Hey! Yeah, there totally IS something crap about our maps app! Let's fix it!" about this when their macbooks were randomly shutting down for about four months after they were released until they FINALLY released a firmware update. They wouldn't even admit that it was a common problem.

And yet, it was still better than my XP SP2-era Sony laptop to have a laptop that would just shut itself down whenever for indeterminate amounts of times, so maybe Apple could get away with a lot then. I think consumer patience with them is less now.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:19 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


...just that it's hard, harder maybe than Apple expected.

If Apple wants to be a maps provider, on par with Google, they're going to have to expend a lot more effort than they're doing now. Maps is probably Google's number two product after search. Apple has more cash than Google, but IBM man-years, 720 coders working before lunch, aren't all that productive, and there's really nothing competitive for sale.
posted by bonehead at 8:34 PM on September 21, 2012


Apple trying to do maps is like Apple trying to do social or (indeed) Google trying to do social or Microsoft trying to do, well, almost anything that isn't Windows or Xbox.. It's not an area of core competence, and the competition has a massive leg up on them. Just as Apple does with the iPhone. The result is almost always a crash & burn. Each of these companies (and others, like Yahoo) take enormous existential risks by failing to concentrate on their core business. Google - Search. Apple - Hardware + OS symbiosis. Microsoft - OS. The only time when the existential risk makes sense is when the company is already existentially threatened (eg RIM).
posted by unSane at 8:47 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


iPhone 5 has been jailbroken, for those that swing that way.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:17 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I took a panorama of a new pirate killing ship with the new iPhone.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


unSane, I still don't think Apple has much choice in the matter. The alternative is for Apple to remain beholden to a direct competitor for an enormously important feature of their most profitable product line. Sticking with Google means that mapping on iOS can never achieve more than parity with what Google/Android offers, and likely not even that if Google chooses not to make certain features available to Apple, or to time their release in a way that fucks with Apple's iOS release cycle. That could be a bigger problem for Apple over the long term than any fallout from this launch could be.

Mapping is a core competency of Google's now but it hasn't always been, and a lot of the underpinnings were bought rather than built (I owned Google Earth when it was still Keyhole Viewer, for example). Apple is in an excellent position to throw money at this problem just like Google did. It'd take them quite a while to catch up but they certainly have a fighting chance at doing so. (This is also why the analogy to Ping doesn't really work: you can't buy success in the social space.)

I also don't think conceding a monopoly on mapping to Google is in anybody's interest.
posted by Lazlo at 9:49 PM on September 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


This new iPhone would be perfect if it was running a fully functional build of Android 4.1. So very shiny.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The alternative is for Apple to remain beholden to a direct competitor

But there's at least four alternatives!
  1. Suck it up and stick with Google Maps another year or two until they have a credible map product.
  2. Suck it up and license Bing maps. They're actually provided by Nokia (which owns Navteq), so that's a competitor too, but at least it's a less hostile competitor.
  3. Use MapQuest's OpenStreetMap maps. Maybe even buy the unit off of AOL. This doesn't solve the search, routing and transit problems but at least the cartography would be better.
  4. Hire or buy more maps experts. The current product has some very basic mistakes that people who've been making maps for awhile know to avoid. That suggests they don't have enough experts in house, or the folks in charge are making the wrong decisions. Either way, they could use more expertise.
Any of those four paths would be better for the user. The only way I can understand Apple launching this current product if they believe they have to have users now to get the feedback they need to improve the product. That argument's been made a lot in the press this week but honestly I don't believe it.

The simplest explanation is that Apple just underestimated how hard mapping is. That's OK, everyone screws up. As an iOS user I hope they fix it quickly.

(Bonus reference: there used to be an awesome blog called 41Latitude that picked apart the details of Google and Bing maps, figuring out how their maps were made and pointing out useful cartographic tricks. The blog is gone now, the author Justin O'Beirne says "I stopped writing 41latitude when I joined the Maps team at Apple.". He's the kind of cartographic expert you need to make great maps and I hope Apple has figured out how to hire at least ten of them on top of the regular brilliant folks you need to build any good product.)
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Speaking of mapping experts weighing in.
posted by idiopath at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


also the comments on that article are good
posted by idiopath at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2012


Look up San Jose, Costa Rica. It can't even find the capital city.
posted by empath at 9:06 AM on September 22, 2012


Bonus reference: there used to be an awesome blog called 41Latitude that picked apart the details of Google and Bing maps, figuring out how their maps were made and pointing out useful cartographic tricks. The blog is gone now, the author Justin O'Beirne says "I stopped writing 41latitude when I joined the Maps team at Apple.".

I hate this. At least leave the damn blog up rather than throwing it forcefully down the memory hole!
posted by JHarris at 9:20 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any of those four paths would be better for the user.

Apple has no problem telling users to pound sand if they think it'll be better for the company over the long term, and they seem to pull it off successfully much of the time. Flash is the most obvious example.

(Apple are using data from OpenStreetMap, by the way. How much, where or how isn't clear but they're apparently credited.)

We're not going to properly understand why Apple launched maps in their current state until someone spills the beans on what happened in the licensing discussions with Google.
posted by Lazlo at 11:57 AM on September 22, 2012


NASA upgraded Curiosity to IOS 6
posted by Ad hominem at 3:02 PM on September 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Safari in ios 6 seems to have broken many sites by caching posts.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:07 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate Apple so much right now for how many of the webapps we have made for clients will be broken by that behavior. My workplace is going to be a bit frantic I fear.
posted by idiopath at 7:41 PM on September 22, 2012


Oh my. Yeah, that could be kind of a big deal.
posted by Artw at 7:43 PM on September 22, 2012


Yeah, the cache bug will screw up AJAX requests big time. For non-developers, AJAX is the main method by which your browser gets more/new data in the background without doing a visible 'page refresh'. gmail or google maps for example. When you click on something, and the contents of the page change without a whole-page refresh, chances are it's an AJAX request in the background doing that. If it notifies or auto-updates when the server data changes (such as new mail in gmail), it's probably long-polling, i.e. making an update request every few seconds to see if anything new has changed.

I had a similar problem as the ios6 cache bug with IE 8+, where it was aggressively cacheing ajax data requests on default settings, instead of fetching new. I wasn't even long polling, but getting data upon a specific browser event, so it was a specific request. The upshot was that IE would only rarely get the right data, instead sitting there showing the stale data and making you think it was current. Turning off cacheing client side altogether did the trick, which is one workaround listed for ios6 too. In my case, client load was going to be small enough that that was a viable option to do universally. However, that's not always the case.

Basically, you have to re-code the client-side javascript to generate a timestamp which gets added as a parameter to the AJAX request, and then just ignore it server side; that tricks safari into thinking every request is unique - which it damn well should be considered by default - and thus it gets fresh data, instead of in effect ignoring the ajax request and getting stale data from cache.

But anyone that doesn't implement one of those workarounds will likely find their interactive site pretty broken in safari on ios6.

The spinner thing - that a page never appears to fully load, because a long-polling ajax request will make safari show the spinner indefinitely - is irritating, but doesn't actually break anything functionally. Just irritating UI.

Finally;

A change was made in mobile Safari which means that only one connection can be open to each server at any given time. The change causes problems because the push technology we use, sometimes called Long Polling, creates a connection between the browser and your app on the server and holds it open so the server can send events to the browser at any time. Because Safari is allowing only one connection at a time, this prevents any other requests, including images and "special URLs" from being sent to the server until the first one times out.

We have filed a bug report with Apple, and are communicating directly with the Safari engineering team to get the bug fixed in iOS as quickly as possible.


Yeah, that's just broken. Not really much you can do to work around that, apart from make sure your long-polling doesn't start until you've loaded all else - and quite a lot of the time, you're doing long-polling to pull that data in in the first place, so that's not a particularly useful workaround. I'm sure Apple will fix that one fairly quickly, cos it's causing a lot of weird breakages devs can't do much about with web-apps.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:43 PM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, I think that for most people (in the US anyway) the new maps application is an improvement over the old only because it has turn by turn driving direction. What percentage of Americans take public transportation to work? 2%?
posted by The Lamplighter


That's my case. It didn't matter how great google maps was for me, I rarely used it. Basically, only rarely when taking a glance at how far point X was from Y. Because it never had turn by turn directions I had little use for it. I bought Navigon and used it constantly.

So for me, I don't care how Apple maps compare to google maps, only how it compares to my turn by turn app, Navigon.

There's little doubt the maps app needs work, but I'm more concerned how it works in 6 months, not today. And metafilter membership is concentrated in big cities, so the problem is going to be amplified.

No he's really not. Sometimes he can be a gadfly but he's usually pretty "Hey Apple is doing things well" when they are doing things well. He's pragmatic and no one owns him so he can say what he thinks.
posted by jessamyn at 3:28 PM


I'll disagree. I wouldn't say Anil is 'hostile' towards Apple. But he's often been critical, and has been a big defender of microsoft more than a fan of Apple. Nothing wrong with that, but being a long time reader of his site it's difficult to believe that's not pretty obvious.
posted by justgary at 6:55 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


justgary: "I'll disagree. I wouldn't say Anil is 'hostile' towards Apple. But he's often been critical, and has been a big defender of microsoft more than a fan of Apple. Nothing wrong with that, but being a long time reader of his site it's difficult to believe that's not pretty obvious"

Awkwaaaaaard ....
posted by barnacles at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


justgary writes "And metafilter membership is concentrated in big cities, so the problem is going to be amplified. "

I wonder how true that is. Certainly we have a lot of members in big cities but is it disproportionate to the population distribution?
posted by Mitheral at 11:54 AM on September 23, 2012


FWIW, this long-time reader of Anil's blog (and Apple product owner) has never detected him being biased or partial in any way. I don't always agree with him, but he seems to be entirely consistent in being both hugely enthusiastic about new tech and concerned about the cultural implications of its social effects. To see him through the lens of pro-/anti- [insert large tech company] is to miss most of what's interesting about his writing.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:01 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


justgary, please, stop. I've had to defend my own comments on the site here multiple times now against your Apple-partisan accusations, and I freaking own an iPad, and have a Mac Mini, and have two classic Mac OS computers in a closet somewhere. I'm sure Mr. Dash feels the same way about The Fruit From Cupertino I do: a bus worth hopping on board if it's going the same direction, but nothing to obsess over.

The world doesn't cleanly divide into For and Against Apple.
posted by JHarris at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


So, for folks who are still trying to figure out how they will get to work if they upgrade their iPhone:

The Transit App is seriously the best option I've found so far. The app is free but you can disable ads / get more routes / customization with a $5 yearly subscription (they have to pay for their servers somehow, and they aren't monetizing your eyeballs like Google).
posted by mrzarquon at 2:32 PM on September 23, 2012


The corporation I favor and whose products I use is a trustworthy aide, producing fairly priced products which make my life better, once I have spent the time to learn them well. The corporation you favor, whose products are a confusing mess, is a lying, scheming scoundrel trying to pick your pocket and slip roofies in your Kool Aid, but you're TOO BLIND TO SEE.

I expect you all to see the wisdom of this argument.
posted by benzenedream at 5:13 PM on September 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


So for me, I don't care how Apple maps compare to google maps, only how it compares to my turn by turn app, Navigon.

On my iPhone 4, the new iOS turn-by-turn doesn't match up well at all. Non-overhead view? Nope, not supported since the maps don't support the 3D view. Spoken directions? Nope, not supported since no Siri. Third-party apps all support both of those. Another annoyance is that the Apple Maps app uses the compass to orient the map... maybe your compass is better than mine, but it just means the map is pointing about 20-30 degrees off where I'm driving at all times.

Apple does a great job of making my year-and-a-half-old phone feel terribly obsolete.
posted by smackfu at 5:50 AM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just as tempers had begun to cool off after anti-Japanese riots left Hondas and Toyotas strewn, vandalized, across China's streets two weeks ago, tensions on the microblogging site Weibo began to rise again over news that in Japan, the newly released iPhone 5 listed a set of contested islands -- known as Diaoyu in China, Senkaku in Japan, and claimed by both countries -- as part of the Okinawa Prefecture, part of Japan. To complicate matters, the Senkaku-labeled islands appear beside a duplicated set of the same islands, labeled the Chinese way. Within the first few hours after news broke, over 760,000 outraged posts appeared on Weibo, nearly all calling for boycotts of the latest iPhone. from The Atlantic
posted by Rumple at 6:14 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The corporation I favor and whose products I use is a trustworthy aide, producing fairly priced products which make my life better, once I have spent the time to learn them well. The corporation you favor, whose products are a confusing mess, is a lying, scheming scoundrel trying to pick your pocket and slip roofies in your Kool Aid, but you're TOO BLIND TO SEE.

I have an Android Galaxy Nexus and an iPad. I think the headaches I've had must come from the raging cognitive dissonance.
posted by grouse at 6:29 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


On my iPhone 4, the new iOS turn-by-turn doesn't match up well at all. Non-overhead view? Nope, not supported since the maps don't support the 3D view. Spoken directions? Nope, not supported since no Siri. Third-party apps all support both of those. Another annoyance is that the Apple Maps app uses the compass to orient the map... maybe your compass is better than mine, but it just means the map is pointing about 20-30 degrees off where I'm driving at all times.

None of these things are issues on the 4S, although I guess that's not much comfort.

I don't think it uses the compass to orient the view on the 4S either, but rather does the standard guess based on the direction that you're moving.
posted by The Lamplighter at 8:29 PM on September 24, 2012


Woz: Apple Maps disappointing, but flaws 'not that severe'

The Apple co-founder [Steve "Woz" Wozniak] is aware of the highly publicised errors with Apple's Maps, but suspected the severity of the flaws has been exaggerated.

"I have been reading about the problems, and I don't know if they are that severe," he said.

He used the iPhone 4 antenna issue as an example. The phone was proven to lose reception when the antenna band is touched, leading to dropped calls. In normal use, Wozniak never really noticed the problem.

"Sometimes, there are a lot of complaints about one little thing people spot, but it's not that hard to deal with in life," he said. "I don't know yet about Maps — I'm a little worried about the navigation, but I've still got it covered with a bunch of other navigation apps."

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 AM on September 25, 2012


We're not going to properly understand why Apple launched maps in their current state until someone spills the beans on what happened in the licensing discussions with Google.

Looks like the split wasn't Google's idea.
Here's some bad news for the haters of iOS 6's new Maps: there is no Google equivalent waiting in the wings. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt confirmed on Tuesday that his company has not submitted a mapping app of its own to Apple's App Store, though he didn't entirely rule out the idea.

"We have not done anything yet," Schmidt said in reference to a rumored Google Maps application for iOS, according to Reuters. "We think it would have been better if [Apple] had kept ours. But what do I know? What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."
posted by Egg Shen at 7:28 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Woz can just pull out one of his Androids, though. Dude probably is carrying at least 5 devices at any one time.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:30 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Have Apple released any stats yet on iOS 6 adoption? I'd love to see, like, a heat map or something.
posted by griphus at 7:35 AM on September 25, 2012


"We think it would have been better if [Apple] had kept ours. But what do I know? What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."

I don't you think you can really be sure it was 100% Apple's call just from this quote. There's a lot that of wiggle room in that. For all we know, Schmidt could actually mean "We think it would have been better if [Apple] had kept ours [at our new exorbitant rate for access to our API]."
posted by entropicamericana at 7:49 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


our new exorbitant rate for access to our API

Fair point.

Still, how much is this costing Apple in terms of tarnishing their brand? And they're not exactly hurting for cash at the moment.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:12 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Griphus-

15-17% in the first 24 hours.

Haven't seen updated rates, which will probably be around later this week.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:16 AM on September 25, 2012


Google has no plans to release Maps app for iOS6.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:27 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now I'm hearing that it forces you into using the stupid new podcast app. Goodbye being able to make a playlist of podcasts, hello a stupid picture of a tape recorder and, apparently, never knowing if the thing is local or streaming.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on September 25, 2012


Or, you know, you could install a third party app like Instacast.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:00 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, basically, someone needs to grab someone from Apple and tell them this: That 80/20 shit does not work if you do it retroactively.
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now I'm hearing that it forces you into using the stupid new podcast app.

Not that I've run into so far: I'm still able to download and sync with my home PC and listen to podcasts within iTunes. The only time it's tried to get me to add the new podcasts app was when I accidentally clicked on one of those "get more episodes" links, but I don't use those to download.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:43 AM on September 25, 2012


Looks like this one, at least, is fixable.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on September 25, 2012


Google has no plans to release Maps app for iOS6.

The headline I see says:

'Google is not planning to release Maps app for iOS 6 (yet)'

Perhaps it was edited ... no, it's basically an expanded version of the article Egg Shen linked:

'Schmidt would not go so far as to say that a Google Maps app wouldn't appear in the future, stating that Google and Apple were in constant communication "at all kinds of levels."'
posted by mrgrimm at 10:05 AM on September 25, 2012


Burhanistan: "Woz can just pull out one of his Androids, though. Dude probably is carrying at least 5 devices at any one time."

Like a sensible person.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:47 AM on September 25, 2012


Some more context:
...Google has 1,100 full time employees and 6,000 contractors working on its mapping products. Those 7,000 people do all sorts of granular work.

[While] excluding its retail army, Apple only has 13,000 employees in total.
Apple headquarters staff would have to grow by more than 50% to match Google's current staffing. And so...
Apple reportedly poaching Google Maps staff.
Heh.
posted by bonehead at 12:05 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


My husband's iPad was stolen a few weeks ago, and we're going to replace it with an Android...
posted by desjardins at 12:30 PM on September 25, 2012


Meanwhile, is anyone getting Windows ME flashbacks?
posted by griphus at 12:47 PM on September 25, 2012



My husband's iPad was stolen a few weeks ago, and we're going to replace it with an Android...


Well, you certainly won't have to worry about anyone stealing that.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:48 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, nobody stole my Android phone last month, that's for sure. Definitely no interest in that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:50 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, is this the week where android tablets are such rip offs they're indistinguishable from an ipad by looks alone, or the one where they're so dreadfully designed no-one would even steal one? I forget.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Act like grown ups or go to MetaTalk, seriously.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:13 PM on September 25, 2012


Well, they took an entire backpack without having any way of knowing what was in it (two laptops, an iPad and miscellaneous stuff). The backpack could have been filled with dog shit, and I wish it had been. Fuckers.
posted by desjardins at 1:33 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple built special version of Maps for China
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on September 25, 2012


It's not going great in China, though. China's AutoNavi responds to Apple Maps fiasco: blame TomTom. "apparently, the upgrade to iOS 6 has caused some users to be unable to connect to the AutoNavi service. Their maps of China, then, are being served by TomTom". Also: Great Timing: As Apple Maps Suck Hard, Baidu Maps App Gets a Major Update.
posted by Nelson at 3:36 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently Apple Maps work better than Google Maps in China:

To gain an advantage, Apple likely chose AutoNavi because it provides the best overall data and system out there compared with its Chinese competitors, according to Jake Lynch, an analyst at Macquarie Group MQG.AU -0.34% in Shanghai.

Mr. Lynch said AutoNavi invests twice as much capital in its products when compared to its nearest Chinese competitor, NavInfo, which holds 43.2% market share. “AutoNavi’s overall experience and accuracy is the best of the competitors,” he said.


Anthony Drendel made some screenshots available to compare the two services:

Well, don't take my word for it. Check out the difference yourself. The first map is Google Maps on iOS 5. The second is Apple's iOS Maps on iOS 6. This shows the same location just outside of Lijiang, Yunnan. Lijiang is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China. Both Google Maps and iOS Maps covers the center of the city pretty well. As you can see, though, if you move a couple of miles out of the city center, Google Maps becomes pretty useless pretty quickly...

People are taking me to task for saying that iOS 6 Maps is better than the previous Maps (powered by Google). As someone who lives in China and has to find my way around, the superiority of iOS 6 Maps is clear. In my experience, the new version of Maps zooms in much further, shows more points of interest, clearly labels banks and cellphone shops (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom), and gives the locations of ATMs and public restrooms (my original iPad running iOS 5 with Google-powered Maps doesn't show either of those things). The killer feature, though, is that iOS 6 Maps shows both English names and Chinese characters for everything, whereas Google-powered Maps only shows the English translation (on iOS devices whose language is English). This is killer. English translations are almost useless in China because—guess what—Chinese people don't speak English. For those of us who can read (at least some) Chinese, this feature is even more important. We can ask for places by name instead of just pointing at its location on a map.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:04 PM on September 25, 2012


Google Maps licenses AutoNavi data too, as the article Blazecock Pileon linked has already corrected itself to note. You can confirm this yourself on Google Maps website: see lower right corner.

Map data is this incredibly local thing; making a global product like Google or Apple maps requires licensing from many different data providers.
posted by Nelson at 4:10 PM on September 25, 2012


Interesting. The stuff about China seems to confirm that there's not necessarily a problem with the Apple Maps app as an app; the problem is primarily with the really shitty data set that underlies it in most parts of the world. But that's the bit that requires the most boots on the ground to fix.
posted by modernnomad at 4:16 PM on September 25, 2012


Google Maps licenses AutoNavi data too, as the article Blazecock Pileon linked has already corrected itself to note.

Weird that they aren't using the licensed data to make a product as good as what Apple appears to make for Chinese customers. Maybe it's out of spite, from the Google-China controversy from a few years back.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:19 PM on September 25, 2012


Having checked the web version of that map, the location data is exactly the same; Gmaps just makes you zoom in an extra level to see all the places that are labeled in the Apple map. The main difference seems to be the language support.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:07 PM on September 25, 2012


(Of course language support, especially if you have to account for people typing in English translations of Chinese names to compare against a database of potentially different English translations of Chinese names, is no small matter.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:22 PM on September 25, 2012


Looks like this debacle is all on Apple. Their deal with Google still had a year left.
posted by stopgap at 6:35 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's annoying as hell. At the very least Apple could have let there be overlap between the two systems for that year, perhaps using their own map to provide turn by turn etc. It would've allowed a superior product (Google Maps) to still be used by those who wanted to use it, and given Apple itself more breathing space to fix errors in the basic cartography and another year to fill out the details/POIs accurately. The more I read the more I get the feeling this will be used in HBS style case studies as a counterpoint to the genius behind the original iPhone.
posted by modernnomad at 6:47 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


From stopgap's link:
The decision, made sometime before Apple's WWDC event in June, sent Google scrambling to develop an iOS Google Maps app — an app which both sources say is still incomplete and currently not scheduled to ship for several months.

Can someone familiar with iOS development explain this? Did Apple actually develop the iOS5 maps app? It seemed like Google had, in which case I would think it a fairly simple matter of repackaging the code and submitting it.
posted by odinsdream at 7:01 PM on September 25, 2012


Nope. Apple wrote both the YouTube and maps apps... Google just supplied the data.
posted by empath at 7:24 PM on September 25, 2012


Can someone familiar with iOS development explain this? Did Apple actually develop the iOS5 maps app? It seemed like Google had

Apple wrote the MapKit frameworks and client app. Google just licensed data it obtained from other vendors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:26 PM on September 25, 2012


Google just licensed data it obtained from other vendors.

Are you suggesting they haven't collected their own data?
posted by VoteBrian at 7:56 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google just licensed data it obtained from other vendors.

Are you suggesting they haven't collected their own data?


Never let facts get in the way of your spin!
posted by kafziel at 8:02 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's annoying as hell. At the very least Apple could have let there be overlap between the two systems for that year

Possibly they want the overlap for older devices, the 3G and the original iPad and anything else that won't get iOS 6 or Apple Maps.
posted by Artw at 8:04 PM on September 25, 2012


Apple wrote the MapKit frameworks and client app. Google just licensed data it obtained from other vendors.

Yeah, I'm sure the millions of miles their funky cars covered roaming roads everywhere had nothing to do with it.

Never let facts get in the way of your spin!

GROAN
posted by JHarris at 8:34 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the benefit of passengers using Apple i06
posted by unliteral at 8:43 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently Apple Maps work better than Google Maps in China

Well, that's one opinion; here's a counter-argument;
Just as tempers had begun to cool off after anti-Japanese riots left Hondas and Toyotas strewn, vandalized, across China's streets two weeks ago, tensions on the microblogging site Weibo began to rise again over news that in Japan, the newly released iPhone 5 listed a set of contested islands -- known as Diaoyu in China, Senkaku in Japan, and claimed by both countries -- as part of the Okinawa Prefecture, part of Japan. To complicate matters, the Senkaku-labeled islands appear beside a duplicated set of the same islands, labeled the Chinese way. Within the first few hours after news broke, over 760,000 outraged posts appeared on Weibo, nearly all calling for boycotts of the latest iPhone.
If in doubt on what to call the islands, just have them both side by side!
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:27 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


They should have duplicated the whole of Taiwan.
posted by Artw at 5:16 AM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You would think Apple would have at least looked at the wikipedia page on Geographical Naming Disputes.
posted by smackfu at 7:51 AM on September 26, 2012


Which doesn't seem to have an entry on the islands (but it does mention American/USian!), oddly.

(Also, "Whanganui" is by far my favorite place name.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:11 AM on September 26, 2012


Google Working on Maps for iPhone, iPad

It appears that Google was planning for their own app, like the Youtube one, but for a year from now when their licensing agreement ran out. Apple jumped the gun and seems to have surprised Google with their timing. From Ars Technica:
Google was as surprised as the rest of us when Apple announced in June that iOS Maps would use its own mapping data, including 3D "flyover" views powered by its acquisition of C3 Technologies. While the writing on the wall suggested Apple would eventually begin using its own mapping data at some point, Apple's decision to ditch Google's data earlier than expected "sent Google scrambling" to develop its own app. Not surprisingly, three months just wasn't enough time to get the app ready for iOS 6's launch.
posted by bonehead at 10:06 AM on September 26, 2012


Apple-Google Maps Talks Crashed Over Voice-Guided Directions

But multiple sources familiar with Apple’s thinking say the company felt it had no choice but to replace Google Maps with its own, because of a disagreement over a key feature: Voice-guided turn-by-turn driving directions.

Spoken turn-by-turn navigation has been a free service offered through Google’s Android mobile OS for a few years now. But it was never part of the deal that brought Google’s Maps to iOS. And sources say Apple very much wanted it to be. Requiring iPhone users to look directly at handsets for directions and manually move through each step — while Android users enjoyed native voice-guided instructions — put Apple at a clear disadvantage in the mobile space. And having chosen Google as its original mapping partner, the iPhone maker was now in a position where an archrival was calling the shots on functionality important to the iOS maps feature set.


Google was deliberately crippling mapping on the iPhone. So, basically, Apple dumped Google's maps for the same reason it dumped Adobe's Flash, and why it released Keynote, Pages, etc. as a way to offset weaker options from Microsoft's Mac Office division.

Apple pushed Google hard to provide the data it needed to bring voice-guided navigation to iOS. But according to people familiar with Google’s thinking, the search giant, which had invested massive sums in creating that data and views it as a key feature of Android, wasn’t willing to simply hand it over to a competing platform.

Even if the first version of its maps aren't great for all users right out of the gate, going with them now seems a completely obvious and rational decision in the backdrop of past experiences with Adobe and Microsoft: Apple doesn't want the fate of its platform decided by deliberately crippled software from competitors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:07 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Google was deliberately crippling mapping on the iPhone.

That seems like a fairly spinny way of putting it. Not adding features to an existing product is not crippling that product.
posted by Mitheral at 2:25 PM on September 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


And by the same token, Google didn't want one to hand one of the strongest features of Android over to its largest competitor for nothing. (The article says Apple rejected offers that would have allowed Apple access to the data necessary for turn-by-turn voice guidance in exchange for giving Google in-app branding, or incorporating Latitude.)

That still doesn't make the timing a good idea, though - per the article the whole point was to secure voice-guided GPS as an iOS feature, on Apple's terms, but as of right now the "feature" apparently isn't worth a whole lot. They could have kept putting their database through development and QA with no particular consequences; continuing to use Google Maps on iOS 6 would have been a non-event without Apple's own hype for their Maps app.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:27 PM on September 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have always hated turn-by-turn navigation, but I guess Apple believes it's a big deal. And maybe they're right. I've thought for a while that, once this subsides, people will be perfectly happy with the Apple Maps app; it'll be interesting, to say the least, for people to have the choice between an app with good maps that provides turn-by-turn navigation, and an app with good maps that doesn't (but has features like transit info, etc). I wonder which people will prefer.

I mean, I've always pegged Apple customers as being more likely to be urban, and therefore more likely to use public transit, but I might be wrong about the bulk of their users. And those that drive – I can imagine them wanting turn-by-turn navigation. Also, turn-by-turn navigation certainly is kind of a dead zone on iOS; all of the apps I've ever seen that these GPS companies put together are hideous and difficult to use, so it makes sense for Apple to want to innovate in that area.

It'll be interesting, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 2:49 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not adding features to an existing product is not crippling that product.

It cripples that software, relative to the same software on a competing platform. Much as is the case currently and historically with Adobe and Microsoft's products on Apple's platforms, and why Apple has had to make alternatives available, as it happens.

Citing Steve Jobs' letter about why they decided not to go with Flash:

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers...

Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms.


Granted, that letter was targeted at iPhone developers, but the end goal was the same: Getting better software out the door. As with Adobe and Flash, Google has no interest in iOS devices having good, fully-featured maps. If Google put itself in the way, then Apple is just making a rational choice: When USB was the better option, when getting rid of Flash was the better option, when making Keynote compete with PowerPoint was the better option, Apple made difficult choices that turned out okay (and occasionally better than okay) in the end. I'll bet this mapping debacle is a different story a year from now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:03 PM on September 26, 2012


Google was deliberately crippling mapping on the iPhone.

In the same way that Apple cripples the rest of the industry by refusing to cross-license their patents.

Apple made a rational decision to kick Google off the iPhone perhaps, but Google's decision to keep a key differentiating feature off of their strongest competitor's device is equally rational. Job's internalization and personalization of Google's behaviour was not one of his best features, arguably it was his greatest weakness as a business man.
posted by bonehead at 3:12 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And it's not as though they refused to let Apple have that data. They just refused to do it for free.
posted by kafziel at 3:16 PM on September 26, 2012


Really? Did Google offer turn-by-turn data to Apple at some very high price? I thought that wasn't offered at all.
posted by koeselitz at 3:19 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? Did Google offer turn-by-turn data to Apple at some very high price? I thought that wasn't offered at all.

From Blazecock's own article, which of course goes deliberately omitted in his spin of it, cutting the quote juuust short of the paragraph that goes off his message:

"Apple pushed Google hard to provide the data it needed to bring voice-guided navigation to iOS. But according to people familiar with Google’s thinking, the search giant, which had invested massive sums in creating that data and views it as a key feature of Android, wasn’t willing to simply hand it over to a competing platform.

And if there were terms under which it might have agreed to do so, Apple wasn’t offering them. Sources tell AllThingsD that Google, for example, wanted more say in the iOS maps feature set. It wasn’t happy simply providing back-end data. It asked for in-app branding. Apple declined. It suggested adding Google Latitude. Again, Apple declined."
posted by kafziel at 3:41 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess you could call those things a "price" – but if I were Apple I probably wouldn't want to give up those things, either. And if I were Google, I wouldn't want to let Apple have them. So I guess... it makes sense that this happened, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 3:47 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


(If it were just a matter of money, I have a feeling Apple might have paid happily – of course, I'm not Apple, so who knows.)
posted by koeselitz at 3:49 PM on September 26, 2012


Pretty sure the Google map on iOS already has a degree of in-App branding - it says "Google" right there in the bottom right corner, for instance.
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on September 26, 2012


I completely understand why Apple would want independence from Google Maps as a strategic decision; I'm just baffled by the ineptitude by which they've gone about it, leaving users in the lurch with a woefully inadequate until a) Google's standalone map app is released or b) Apple decides to pull the finger out and devote serious resources to mapping, rather than just putting a programming group on lockdown -- this isn't about programming, it's about data. They need boots on the ground generating and checking raw data, not just a bunch of extra coders in Cupertino.

Amusingly enough, the last time I can remember such an inept launch of a highly touted product by a major internet player was with Google (take your pick of Wave or Buzz).
posted by modernnomad at 4:07 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hm. I think BP's reading of the issue is, in this instance, broadly correct. There is a little more to it than that probably (he tends to spin like a washing machine in these threads, witness "Google just licensed data it obtained from other vendors" above), but Apple and Google are competitors. It is possible that Apple could have paid Google more for that feature, maybe, or maybe not. It's possible that Google charged a lot on purpose so that Apple would balk, or that Apple didn't want to provide more branding to the company that produces Android. There's a lot of ways this could have come down behind the scenes, there are multiple valid ways to look at what happened, and it's probable that neither company was entirely stainless in their objectives. It is the nature of the beast.
posted by JHarris at 4:22 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing is, Apple is paying (like anyone else who uses the API to pull down map data into their own software) for google maps on iOS. As is regularly pointed out, it's why Google makes significantly more cash from iOS than android - they obviously don't pay themselves for using google maps on android, and equally obviously, the advantage of having good maps on android is not direct monetary benefit, but helping android do well in marketshare, which then helps out all their other services which do make money, not least google search which is heavily integrated.

Without that revenue stream, google has significantly less incentive to deliver their own maps app for free on iOS. It seems unlikely they'd go ad-funded, as they'd be required to use apples iAd service and share revenue with apple for their own data. They _could_ sell google maps on the app store, like other gps turn-by-turn apps; but again, they'd be giving a 30% cut to apple for their own data, and it would be the first google service sold so seems even more unlikely.

So the question is whether the generalised location data and mindshare from iOS users is important to hang onto; or whether the media storm around the crappiness of ios6 maps will help drive android sales over xmas and next year. I already know several iphone/ipad users at the office vowing to stick to ios5 on their device; and had a couple ask if I knew how to roll back from it. Deserved or not, ios6 is getting a reputation as a stinker of an upgrade.

Apple will presumably improve their own maps app eventually; it's a lot of hard work, and they don't appear to be throwing anything but a tiny fraction of the bodies at it that google have, so it's unlikely to ever get things like street view, or interior building views any time soon. Transit integration clearly was a priority, though it might be bumped up the list for ios7 or 8. The article on the knowledge graph underlying google maps way upthread shows how much human hand tuning goes into getting the relationships between data right, and I don't think anyone knows Big Data like google does - and a few dozen apple map guys are not going to produce anything much more clever than your average turn-by-turn gps app; which is still probably good enough for most people who are already happy with apple maps. Without transit data, without detailed city data, apple maps is a long way behind for urban people, and I don't see that catching up any time soon, even with data massaging by individuals submitting it - google has that too, and it still took them millions of man hours to use it well - and of course, they're continuing to improve too in the same time frame, so that 5 year head start will still continue to count.

So I think google could swing into action at a later date, and provide a similar to android (or at least better than what they previously licenced to apple) app with vector tiles, turn-by-turn and streetview and transit for free, and still sweep up a lot of iOS users if they want to.

I won't be at all surprised if they don't rush it out the door before christmas though, to see if it has a visible knock-on on android sales. Obviously the iphone is still incredibly popular in the US, but it'd be interesting to know how many of those 2 million pre-orders were new buyers vs existing ios users upgrading. Even discounting low-end 'feature phone' android equivalents*, android is still way ahead in new sales and absolute marketshare, not least due to samsung - and those numbers are even stronger outside the US, apple's 'heartland'.


* even low end android smartphones are getting scarily good due to moore's law; you can pick up a pay-as-you-go huawei now for £100 cash - as opposed to the £650+ for an iphone5 off contract - that's got better specs than my two year old galaxy S which is plenty snappy with jelly bean on it; my galaxy S was £400 off contract, or would have been.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:56 PM on September 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Transit integration clearly wasn't a priority, even.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:58 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uber Tells Drivers To Hold Off On Updating To iOS 6 Until Next Week. Uber is a private car service that relies entirely on custom iPhone apps for dispatch, billing, etc. They need working maps. I'm a little confused by this; does a third party app magically switch whose maps are shown if the user upgrades to iOS 6? Some of the discussion above suggests that's how MapKit works. Seems a bit odd to me, is there no way to give MapKit a specific URL template for where to load map tiles from?

The tech press the past three days is full of garbage recycled stories about Apple's maps problem; apparently it's generating lots of pageviews.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on September 27, 2012


Most iOS maps software works by figuring out what area you need a map for, sending a request to MapKit, and displaying whatever map it gives you. In iOS6, MapKit returns Apple maps instead of Google maps, with all the baggage that entails. I have no idea if it's possible to tell MapKit to look somewhere else other than its default source, but it should certainly be possible to have your app look up a Google map itself instead of going through MapKit - that's probably how they're going to get this fixed inside of a week.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:22 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amusingly enough, the last time I can remember such an inept launch of a highly touted product by a major internet player was with Google (take your pick of Wave or Buzz).

Or Ping. Or, I predict, Passbook.

Of course branding, ad access, etc etc is a cost. I don't think either Apple or Google are in the wrong here for the things they're asking for. There doesn't have to be a bad guy when two sides can't come up with a mutually agreeable deal and I don't think there is here.

I -do- think that Apple has made a misstep in not spending another year developing their app. I understand that it would have been a violation of their design philosophy to release theirs to run along side the original, though I think that would have been the best plan. But they clearly think the lack of turn-by-turn is worse than the growing pains and getting out from under Google maps was more important.
posted by phearlez at 9:55 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Passbook, lol. Pretty much every reward program I've ever seen will work by giving your name, phone number, or email address.

Remember those Visa check-card commercials when debit card members fly through lines and some idiot using cash brings the whole process to a screeching halt?

You don't see those commercials so much anymore. And I'm starting to see more and more "cash-only" lines at popular luncheries. Cash is usually faster, easier, and cheaper for merchants and customers.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Passbook, lol. Pretty much every reward program I've ever seen will work by giving your name, phone number, or email address.

United's boarding passes work great on it. My coworker flew back last Friday with it, and it was awesome for him. You get an email, you check in, you save it to your passbook. You get to the airport (since the pass can contain a geo location of where to redeem it), it shows up on your lock screen, you can swipe it, it pops up, you scan your phone and how your ID, you get on the plane.

There are some things that need to be cleaned up for it. I think it should work like the Photos app, as any camera apps photos are accessible from the photos bucket, any app that stores a passbook pass should have it auto populated in the Passbook app. Right now the app has to let you push it to the passbook area.

Alaska Airlines (my airline of choice) should have it soon, and their boarding app already works well, but I'd love to have it in the passbook area, along with other easily used cards.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:05 PM on September 27, 2012


Passbooks suffers a bit because it's all about app support. Apple announces it like that future is already here, but on day 1 barely any of the apps are updated yet. And the best part of Passbook is probably that a Pass can just be included in your standard email, so you don't even need the app, but I haven't seen anyone doing that yet.

Because of that, I'm surprised Apple didn't figure out some way to include Passbook support in some of their own apps as a demo. Then they could have pointed you to the Apple Store app for instance with a big demo, instead of saying "Follow this link to the app store, and somewhere in those apps is probably some Passbook support."
posted by smackfu at 6:04 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy cow: Tim Cook apologizes for iOS 6 maps.
While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.
posted by Nelson at 6:34 AM on September 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nelson: "Holy cow: Tim Cook apologizes for iOS 6 maps."

Good for him and them. It's not just the apology and the fact that they've now taken full responsibility for shipping an product before it was ready. Companies rarely ever suggest that consumers use a competitor's product temporarily, and he's listed several. That was nicely handled, and lives up to a customers-first philosophy.
posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on September 28, 2012


Yeah, it's a pretty great letter. Admits some problems while maintaining a clear strong statement of their product vision. And it's always a sign of strength when you suggest a competitor's product, it's confidence. Classy letter, well written.
posted by Nelson at 7:36 AM on September 28, 2012


Deserved or not, ios6 is getting a reputation as a stinker of an upgrade.

Can't find the link now but I saw a story this week that contained a poll showing half of iOS 6 adopters preferring iOS 5.

Must be trolling for page views though. It's the only explanation.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:44 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe at WWDC there was a big "meh" reaction to iOS6. It certainly feels small enough to be a point upgrade. The only people calling this a "major" upgrade are the same moron reviewers who proclaimed Maps to be "stunning".

Even the good bits -- like some of the APIs -- are useless to devs unless everybody moves to iOS6. With the original iPad left out, and people staying on iOS 5 because of the maps mess, that's not the certainty it was at the time.
posted by fightorflight at 8:49 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it says a lot that one of the high level features of iOS 6 is "Facetime isn't blocked over cellular anymore".
posted by smackfu at 8:52 AM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Facetime-over-cellular thing has actually been kind of an underreported story in my opinion. Remember that one of Apple's big early achievements with the iPhone was, essentially, telling the carriers to sit down, shut up, and follow Apple's lead. With FaceTime, they finally found something they'd fight back against.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:56 AM on September 28, 2012


Passbooks suffers a bit because it's all about app support.

This is actually not true. Passbook will work just fine with nothing more than email. A pass is nothing more than a properly named and formatted zip file that contains some various images and a json file. It's then cryptographically signed with a certificate file you get from Apple via the developer provisioning portal.

I made one yesterday just out of curiosity. The learning curve was the only hard part. If anyone is interested in seeing one you can memail me and I'll email it to you. Or grab it here and email it to yourself. You can't just open it on the iPhone because the web server has to explicitly identify it as a certain binary file and this dropbox location doesn't do that.

The real insanity, now that I have done this, is that Apple didn't just email everyone who pre-ordered an iPhone 5 some sort of coupon. $1 off in the Apple store or something. Verizon, who for two years could not manage to figure out what physical location they were providing my FiOS to, managed to send us welcome emails.

It's one more on the pile of things that makes me think this launch was poorly handled. Apple could have promoted Passbook in a dozen easy ways but they didn't.

That said, I don't think any of that is why it's going to fail. The emailed coupons could be okay but the app integration is exactly contrary to what any business wants to do. Why should I spend all that money developing something and then provide you a way to benefit from it without interacting with it and looking at my branding? The location alert stuff is the only upside I can see. If I were Starbucks I certainly wouldn't outsource the display of your Starbucks card barcode to another app. Open my app and see all my promotional crap!

The Square wallet stuff is a more clear benefit; something that makes your buying and paying for stuff in my store is an obvious win. Reducing the time you spend interacting with the environment where I control your experience - my app - is not.
posted by phearlez at 8:58 AM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Less dramatic but an actual link, from Cult of Mac:

In a poll conducted by mobile customer research firm On Device which reached out to 16,000 iPhone owners in the United States, those with iOS 6 installed on their devices were slightly less satisfied than those with iOS 5: a drop from a satisfaction rating of 7.75 to 7.65.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:46 AM on September 28, 2012


Nice to see Cook come out and apologize, though pretty staggering he felt it necessary to list off a series of better options to Apple's own app. That's pretty humiliating.
posted by modernnomad at 9:51 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something had happened, a thing which years ago had been the eagerest hope of many, many good citizens of the town. And now it came at last: George Amberson Minafer had got his comeuppance. He'd got it three times filled and running over.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2012


How Accurate is Apple Maps in Canada's Largest Province?

Correct: 20%
Close: 19%
Incorrect: 27%
No Results: 34%

posted by Egg Shen at 10:10 AM on September 28, 2012


How Accurate is Apple Maps in Canada's Largest Province?

How accurate is referring to Ontario as "Canada's largest province"?

Correct: 0%
Incorrect: 100%
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 AM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Incorrect: 100%

It would have been more accurate to say "most populous". But then it is people rather than land areas that are going to be performing these searches.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2012


But then it is people rather than land areas that are going to be performing these searches.

Searches of what, exactly?

It's a perfectly good takedown of the Apple maps thingy and all, of course; I just thought it was a bit ironic that a critique emphasizing geographical accuracy would itself be sloppy about it.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:40 AM on September 28, 2012


Searches of what, exactly?

He lists the specifics of all 2,000+ searches performed - i.e. "Appleton, Ontario".

Granted, that doesn't look like a hotbed of people desperate for navigation guidance. But at least Google Maps knows that you're not looking for Ontario Street in Olcott, NY.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:50 AM on September 28, 2012


He lists the specifics of all 2,000+ searches performed - i.e. "Appleton, Ontario".

Which is a land area, and not a person, which was my point.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:51 AM on September 28, 2012


Many towns in Ontario are named the same as the municipalities that contain them. My local one, Meaford, is just that. But when people search for Meaford, they mean the town, not the township (which is actually called the Municipality of Meaford').

However, Apple Maps locates Meaford in the center of the Municipality, not the town itself. So if you search for 'Meaford', it actually sends you to a point on the road halfway between Meaford and Owen Sound, ie about 10km off.

Not all towns are municipalities (eg Thornbury, which is in the Town of the Blue Mountains) and not all municipalities are towns (eg Town of the Blue Mountains, Grey Highlands etc).
posted by unSane at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2012


So it looks to me like Apple Maps is using the wrong database, ie a database of Municipalities. Which is tremendously stupid, because Canada has excellent free geolocation databases coming out of its ears.
posted by unSane at 12:40 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


To call it half-assed would be a compliment.
posted by unSane at 12:41 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very patchy. These aren't random, uncommon searches. He's fed in many of the medium to small town names in Ontario, exactly the sort of search I've done when looking for a country drive, or when trip planning.

It gets Perth, ON right, apparently, a town of about 5000, and the county seat, but it misses both Petawawa, about 15k, and Petawawa CFB, a major base in Eastern Ontario, both of which are major locations in the area.

Some of the near misses are amusing. Perth Road Ontario is a minor highway, #10/Division St north out of Kingston. Apple returns a spur off of Perth Road, Perth Road Crescent, which would sort-of get you where you were going if you were trying to go to Kingston-Perth, for example, but would be useless if you were trying to get to a house just north of the 401, for example.
posted by bonehead at 1:13 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


However, Apple Maps locates Meaford in the center of the Municipality, not the town itself. So if you search for 'Meaford', it actually sends you to a point on the road halfway between Meaford and Owen Sound, ie about 10km off.

That's nothing. Try driving to Durham. Three towns over, takes about an hour, right? Yeah, no. Apple's got you going to Port Perry, in Durham Region. Three hours in the wrong direction.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:45 PM on September 28, 2012


Yeah, it's a pretty great letter.

I don't buy it. It's a necessary letter,perhaps, but it does nothing to explain why, for example, they deliberately removed transit directions/schedules. That's not a "bug", that's a new AppleMaps feature! No transit! It was planned as an executive decision.

As for turn-by-turn, I am trying to envision using that while driving. On a standalone GPS, sure, screwed to the dashboard, big friendly buttons. But while I am driving, on my phone, that's a recipe for a distracted-driver crash. Maybe I am missing something but this can't possibly be enough of a feature to turn off the transit feature for.

So they can apologize all they want for their lousy new maps, but what they really need to address in the letter is why the living fuck they deliberately took out such essential and heavily used components as transit. That was NEVER going to end well and shows complete disrespect for their customers. And it's not even addressed.

So the letter just pisses me off even more that they simply do not get it. And for the first time in my heavily-Apple-embedded life, I am saying: Fuck You Apple, in that tone of voice I used to reserve for Adobe.
posted by Rumple at 1:55 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


They didn't "take it out." They made their own maps from scratch, and don't have the data to map public transit routes. (Or, y'know, a whole lot of other data. Transit is just the only kind that's categorically not there yet.)

Re: turn-by-turn, I think what you're missing is that the phone will read you the directions as you approach each turn, just like a standalone GPS. There's a displayed map too, but you can easily make do with just listening to Siri.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:05 PM on September 28, 2012


As for turn-by-turn, I am trying to envision using that while driving. ... But while I am driving, on my phone, that's a recipe for a distracted-driver crash.

You are absolutely right, if the phone is just in the centre console or something. When we first got our phones, we were doing things that way and it wasn't just terrible, it was also dangerously distracting.

The solution was a car mount clip, which cost $25-30/car. Makes using the phones much more comfortable, even as music players. The mount is perfect for maps. In Quebec, it's actually required to have a GPS (and I would presume a cell phone acting as a GPS) on a fixed mount.
posted by bonehead at 2:18 PM on September 28, 2012


They did take it out, in the sense of, the new Maps doesnt have what the old Maps did. It's a semantic difference to split that hair. The new thing is missing some huge the old thing had, and yet, they chose to go ahead with that anyway. That's not an engineering problem or a data problem or an implementation problem or any other kind of problem other than an executive decision problem to go with shitty map package "A" vs solid map package "B".

Their corporate priorities are fucking up their user satisfaction, big time, and yet that is not what they are apologizing for.

Sure, it'll read it out, but what are you supposed to do, pull over every time you want to change your route or figure out a new one or even just know where the hell you are? It's going to be a terrible navigation GPS for use by a driver (ok for a passenger, I guess), and in my mind that does not at all compensate for the loss of one of the best things it did. To each their own, I guess.

On preview: that makes sense, but nonetheless, 25 bucks. Also GPS sucks battery like nobodies business. So another 25 for a charging cable. Etc. Might as well spend 80 and get a dedicated GPS unit.
posted by Rumple at 2:22 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, it'll read it out, but what are you supposed to do, pull over every time you want to change your route or figure out a new one or even just know where the hell you are? It's going to be a terrible navigation GPS for use by a driver (ok for a passenger, I guess), and in my mind that does not at all compensate for the loss of one of the best things it did. To each their own, I guess.

I don't (yet) have the new iphone, but I use my current android phone for directions while driving fairly often. It's not perfect, but it's super helpful when driving into an unfamiliar city. I just rest it on my lap or put it in the cupholder, and it tells me things like "turn right on Smith Road in 500 feet." If I miss a turn, it recalculates and reads me off the next step, no big deal. There's never a reason to look at the screen or touch it while driving, it just talks and I use my judgment about whether or not the directions make sense.

Up to now, the iphone didn't offer that, and it was a major feature lack from my point of view, just like people here are talking about the lack of transit information being a feature lack. If they can get even halfway ok spoken turn by turn directions on the iphone with seamless recalculating, that will work for me, and I'm probably a lot closer to the center of the market on this than are the people wanting bus information, sadly. (The world would be a better place if five percent of us drove and 95 percent rode the bus, instead of the opposite.) I don't want a stand-alone GPS -- one more thing to buy, another user interface to learn, more cords -- when my phone can do the same thing adequately.
posted by Forktine at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just thought it was a bit ironic that a critique emphasizing geographical accuracy would itself be sloppy about it.

Along those same lines, it's weird that Google makes up fake addresses for its ads touting how bad iOS is, when it should have been pretty easy for its marketing department to publish non-faked examples.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:33 PM on September 28, 2012


Presumably they do that for the same reason all phone numbers in ads start with 555.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:47 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


My own guess is that they wanted to compare mapping results from within a high-profile location like Manhattan, and things work pretty well except for phony addresses — so they had to use a phony address, naturally. Kind of dishonest, but that's advertising, I guess.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:42 PM on September 28, 2012


Or, alternatively, they didn't want to publish anyone's real address in an ad. And you miss entirely the hidden implication of this: Google doesn't have to use anyone's real address in an ad for people to understand, because everyone already knows iOS 6 Maps sucks, a point that's now been used in a joke on the Colbert Report.

- posted by JHarris, from Norway
posted by JHarris at 6:03 PM on September 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


(I figure that Norway is now the Official Place where Maps says you are.)
posted by JHarris at 6:04 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


My own guess is that they wanted to compare mapping results from within a high-profile location like Manhattan, and things work pretty well except for phony addresses — so they had to use a phony address, naturally. Kind of dishonest, but that's advertising, I guess.

And, y'know, if you search for 315 E 15th Street, Manhattan on an Android phone, the screen it shows is in fact exactly what comes up. Where 315 E. 15th would be if it weren't a park, right across from 316 E. 15th.

What's iOS give you? The Marlborough street. The ad correctly shows what happens if you search for the two addresses. What's dishonest about that?
posted by kafziel at 7:57 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


To paraphrase Pauli, that ad isn't even wrong. If an address doesn't exist, there's nothing to find. A working map would communicate clearly, "This place does not exist in the real world."

I've never before seen an ad that gets away with using phony information to say one product is better than the other, as this does. Phony as in derived from completely made-up data, not as in derived from tweaked or manipulated data. The place does not exist.

Past promotional photos I have seen of the Maps app have shown real places in Cupertino and downtown San Francisco, so it's not clear that a fake address is a requirement for an ad, the way fake phone numbers start with the 555 prefix on television shows and in Hollywood movies.

Usually, the FTC get involved with ads that make spurious claims like this, just like they do when toy companies fail to add that disclaimer at the bottom of the commercial that says the robot doesn't actually fly or shoot laser beams.

Fake data aside, Google seems to be claiming their product is of better quality because it can find a non-existent location, which is a bit of a head-scratcher, if one stops and thinks about it for a moment.

Perhaps it would have been more honest to compare the quality of two maps on the basis of places that exist in the real world, and whether or not those maps can find said real-world locales. There appears to be little shortage of those mapping examples, in any event.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 AM on September 29, 2012


Blazecock Pileon: "Fake data aside, Google seems to be claiming their product is of better quality because it can find a non-existent location, which is a bit of a head-scratcher, if one stops and thinks about it for a moment."

I thought about it for a moment and it seems to me that new addresses get added and created all the time. A mapping application that is able to interpolate between actual addresses and show me where something should be -- even if the address in question isn't in the parcel data provided to Google on just a monthly/quarerly/or even yearly rate, depending on the country, county, state, province, city, shire, etc., all around the world -- that it's actually apretty snazzy feature.
posted by barnacles at 1:55 AM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


To paraphrase Pauli, that ad isn't even wrong. If an address doesn't exist, there's nothing to find. A working map would communicate clearly, "This place does not exist in the real world."

So you're saying, if someone DID input an address that doesn't technically exist, the app should reject it entirely instead of showing the place where it would be if it did? Weak sauce. I'm not even going to respond to the rest of that.

BP, you are actually one of my favorite posters here generally, but please take it from me: you have a blind spot. You don't have to LIKE Google, in fact there are plenty of things that Google has done badly (off the top of my head: they're fickle, killing off useful projects like Wave because they aren't popular enough). You don't have to search for things to paint them in a bad light.

Do we have to stage an intervention?
posted by JHarris at 2:19 AM on September 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


In many cases, addresses specify where something would be IF something was there.

Rural fire numbers are an example of this in Ontario.

My address is of the form '678929 Sideroad XX'.

The 672329 actually specifies my location in the county.

67 is the road number. 2 is the section (for roads that aren't continuous)

329 is the distance in tens of metres from the beginning of the section.

Block-based urban layouts are somewhat similar. 359 1/2 would be on the 300 block, if it existed.

Maps are always out of date, so it's not unreasonable to provide a location for an address that can be meaningfully geolocated, even if it's not obvious there's anything there.

For example, in my part of Ontario, there's a LOT of building and fire numbers pop up all the time. People delivering construction materials use them all the time to navigate to construction sites. And fire numbers are a heck of a lot easier to transcribe than GPS co-ords or verbal directions.
posted by unSane at 5:09 AM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


More detail on rural addressing. Nerdily interesting. Apparently I was wrong about the section part -- the county is checkerboarded into sections, presumably so emergency services can head to a general area before getting on final approach to the actual address.
posted by unSane at 5:13 AM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't really see the benefit of typing in an address and having maps tell me it doesn't exist. In most cases, it probably does exist and maps is just wrong. Best is to just say "this is an approximate location."
posted by smackfu at 6:41 AM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find myself struggling to care whether companies use fake telephone numbers or addresses in marketing materials, any more than I care that Apple's ads for Siri show 100% accuracy and immediacy in understanding voice input, which is also patently inaccurate. ("These sequences have been shortened", indeed).

I don't see the relevance to the discussion at hand, which is about the quality of Apple's maps in comparison to the previous version, the business decisions behind that switch, and how long customers like me will have to 'make do' with an inferior product.
posted by modernnomad at 8:12 AM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Google maps is amazing, but I also think OpenStreetMap (OSM) is amazing too. I've been surprised that it is not discussed more in the popular press as people heap praises on Google maps. Long term, I think OSM will win.

The open solution would be the better way ultimately, rather than proprietary solutions, though Google does do cross-platform well it has to be said. I'd be surprised if Apple's mapping becomes a cross platform application.

I've never before seen an ad that gets away with using phony information to say one product is better than the other, as this does.

I've never seen anyone being shot but I'm sure it happens. Some companies get convicted for misleading advertising, including Google. I imagine it happens for others.

Do we have to stage an intervention?

What's the point when everyone with a different view point than his own has it because they're biased?
posted by juiceCake at 8:31 AM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been using the iOS 6 betas over the summer months, and I've been mostly happy with the new maps functionality. Since the second beta, I haven't noticed any incompatibilities between it and the transit app I use (OneBusAway), the turn-by-turn directions work, the 3D view works, and I somehow doubt that we will never see any improvements or bug fixes coming in the form of software updates.

Mostly happy is great. it is a new effort so it will not be perfect and hopefully alternatives are allowed to flourish as well, particularly the gold standard, Google's.

It is unfortunate that tech bloggers feel the need to scrape the bottom of the barrel for anything to complain about and drive click-throughs, nowadays, because there's some interesting stuff here to report on.

Including the deficiencies, which, just because they're negative doesn't mean they're scraping for the bottom of the barrel.

It will be interesting to see if the same people who give leeway to Apple's new map application (just give it time) do the same or will do the same for perceived deficiencies in say Android or Windows 8.
posted by juiceCake at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The best way to use GPS in a car is to have a passenger. If you don't have one, just pick up someone at a bus stop who has a new iPhone. They don't have transit info anymore, so win-win.
posted by desjardins at 10:06 AM on September 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


More on geocoding and address interpolation:
This method makes use of data from a street geographic information system where the street network is already mapped within the geographic coordinate space. Each street segment is attributed with address ranges (e.g. house numbers from one segment to the next). Geocoding takes an address, matches it to a street and specific segment (such as a block, in towns that use the "block" convention). Geocoding then interpolates the position of the address, within the range along the segment.
The faked example makes perfect sense since any parcel information for a park would not contain house numbers. So the software has to guess. This is an extremely common practice in GIS when no or incomplete parcel data is available.
posted by desjardins at 10:11 AM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will respond to this bit after all:

I've never before seen an ad that gets away with using phony information to say one product is better than the other, as this does.

"Never?" You must not be old enough to remember commercials for gas relief that showed a tablet into a foamy amber mug while a voice intones "Stomach gas is like the gas bubbles in beer!" The history of advertising is long and disgusting; this wouldn't even rank on a top ten list.

While I am going to vindicate BP a little here, I do have to note that it is not "phony information". According to kafziel*, this actually is* what Google Maps and Apple Maps will do if you supply that input to it. That is the important information, the results of the experiment, and that is accurate.

But hm, upon further reflection I'd have to say it is true that it's not entirely fair to Apple's application, but commercials have a certain turn-around time, and the address would have to be pre-approved by Legal, not be anyone's house and not suddenly (since we're talking about databases that can be rapidly corrected) be fixed by Apple in the meantime. It'd have to rely on an aspect of Google's Maps engine that Apple's doesn't have and thus be harder to immediately fix -- that Google's can actually interpolate the location of addresses not in its database. And anyway there is a meme going around about Apple's Maps problems, all Google has to do is allude to that in its ad.

* I haven't tested it myself, I'm waiting for an A5 jailbreak before upgrading to iOS 6.
** Actually, I say "actually" rather a lot. Maybe I need an intervention of my own.

posted by JHarris at 1:19 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some interesting results, which raise good questions about the Ontario test:

This is a really long post, although it was fun to write, so here are the important points upfront:

* Google data isn’t much better than Apple data, at least as far as this test is concerned

* Google always returns a result, while Apple only seems to return results when they are a precise match, possibly explaining why the latter’s data appears to be less complete

* This test doesn’t really tell us anything about how accurate the maps are, however, both because of the small data set, and because of the test’s nature


Consumer Reports, which is generally respected as an unbiased reviewer, also seems to think Apple Maps isn't as bad as described (and no silly car analogies were needed):

Bottom line: Both the free Apple and Google navigation apps provide clear routing directions. Apple feels like a less-mature product. But as seen with the initial competing applications for the iPhone, we would expect updates to this new app over time--and Apple has promised as much. When getting down to the nitty gritty, Google provides a better overall package, but we feel that both provide a good solution for standard software. We expect the competition between the companies will benefit customers with ongoing improvements.

It is refreshing to see people do rational, reality-based testing, instead of (for example) looking for addresses that do not exist, which seems a poor way to objectively assess quality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 AM on September 30, 2012


I don't think there's much dispute that apple have released a perfectly serviceable turn by turn app for those who live in most parts of the USA and use maps mostly for driving. So no surprise consumer reports finds that. But as someone who lives and travels outside of the USA and using maps for navigating urban centers on foot rather than by car, that's where the apple data reveals itself to be hilariously inadequate. That is an objective reality, far removed from inputting fake addresses and seeing what happens. Apple is a global company with a global product, like google. Given that apple's own CEO has admitted what a botched release this is, a comparison of the turn by turn operation in the USA misses a big point of the average international iPhone user's concern.
posted by modernnomad at 3:34 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bp, I was in Costa Rica, relying on google maps to get around, and updated to iOS 6 to discover that the town I was in didn't even exist in apple maps. I didn't have to invent a made up address, and I don't think people are going out if their way to discover flaws in the maps app. They are using it the way they normally would and discovering and sharing the vast, vast number of mistakes it has compared to google maps.
posted by empath at 7:12 PM on September 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know those "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ads from back in the day?"
posted by Artw at 7:15 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just dropping back in for a quick moan. Since upgrading, I've needed to use maps on my 4Gs to find a specific location five times, always in London. Each and every time - I kid you not - apple maps has marked the wrong location, or simply come up with nothing. The complete-blanks have included Royal Oak tube station. None of the locations were obscure.

For me this has now moved from an "Ah well, hilarious to see Apple fuck something up for once" sort of situation, to a problem that is crippling one of the most important ways I use my smartphone. I no longer have the same confidence that I can quickly and easily navigate anywhere in my city. This is really, really poor stuff.

I've now linked the web version of Google Maps from my homescreen, and feel set to switch to Android if this doesn't improve in time.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:32 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ominous - you could try the Apple Tube Map. :-)
posted by Artw at 3:20 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh god, that got an Inappropriate Office Snort.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:45 AM on October 1, 2012


Hm, I don't know, I almost want to try Apple Maps, in a Thurberesque "Admiral on the Wheel" way. Where am I today, Siri? "Norway." Public health care, enlightened values, decent standard of living? Certainly beats Georgia.
posted by JHarris at 9:52 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Hey folks not cool - take issues with individuals to MetaTalk or email, not here. Few comments removed, try to keep this on topic?]
posted by jessamyn at 9:10 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The New Yorker (now using Apple Maps)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:16 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anecdotally, I used the iOS 6 Maps with turn by turn today for the first time, and it was an amazingly good experience. I had no problem finding where I was going and the directions were perfect. And when I went the "wrong way" (I used the roundabout on my street to turn around), the Maps application figured out which direction I was going and started to reroute me on the fly.

I know there are people who need Google Maps features, but my experience so far with the Apple Maps app has been completely positive. It wasn't at all what I expected based on this thread and the press coverage.
posted by immlass at 2:26 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think there's a universe of experiences with Apple Maps. It's not as good as Google Maps, apparently, but there are some people for whom it's great.

I'm picking my own words carefully here, I notice, so as to avoid giving "bias" to either side -- well, to hell with that. Apple Maps aren't bad. They're not as good as Google Maps, but that stands to reason. If it weren't for the business strategy of both companies, then Apple users would still be able to use Google's Maps app, with the features that the Android app has, AND the 3D modelling of Apple's app.

That might make me biased against huge corporations, whose strategic decisions have directly harmed hundreds of millions of consumers in this case. In that case, well, so be it.
posted by JHarris at 4:54 PM on October 2, 2012


I had to rent a car yesterday evening and so took the opportunity to bring along my iPhone 4S to try out the turn by turn. It was generally fine and very smooth so long as I inputted an exact address that I wanted to go to. Searching for business names was, of course, weak and ineffectual by Google standards (this was in Canada's largest city, Toronto). I was surprised however that there was no "night mode" colour scheme, which is pretty standard on all standalone GPS devices as well as other iPhone navigation apps. Rerouting was a bit slow, but worked in the end. At one point driving home it did try and send me down a couple of minor lanes that are not designed for driving, suggesting there is still some work to do in the calculation of directions.

In general though I think the turn by turn is fine, and this explains some of the different 'apple maps' experiences - if you're plugging in an exact address to drive to in an area with good coverage, your experience will be fine. If you're exploring an area on foot and are looking for a business or other POI names rather than street addresses, your experience will be very poor, particularly outside major North American cities.
posted by modernnomad at 8:29 AM on October 3, 2012


I've tested it many times and it says the address is on the wrong side of the street about 25% of the time :(
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 AM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Forgotten Mapmaker: Nokia Has Better Maps Than Apple and Maybe Even Google
As I described last month, Google has spent literally tens of thousands of person-hours creating its maps. I argued that no other company could beat Google at this game, which turned out to be my most controversial assertion. People pointed out that while Google's driven 5 million miles in Street View cars, UPS, not to mention all the other logistics companies, drives 3.3 billion miles a year. Whoever had access to these other datasets might be in the mapping (cough) driver's seat.

Well, it turns out that Nokia is the company that receives data from many commercial fleets including FedEx, the company's senior VP of Location Content, Cliff Fox, told me.

"We get over 12 billion probe data points per month coming into the organization," Fox said from his office in Chicago. "We get probe data not only from commercial vehicles like FedEx and UPS trucks, but we also get it from consumers through navigation applications."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:10 AM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


In an update to my earlier report on my generally positive experience with Apple Maps' turn by turn in Toronto, I just used it in Ottawa over the (Canadian) thanksgiving weekend, and it was much, much poorer, to the point where I had to get my girlfriend to pull out her un-upgraded iPhone 4 and use Google Maps and get her to give me directions. The Apple version mislocated specific addresses multiple times -- it would get us in the general area, but the database of house numbers was often incorrect, which was a real problem on Ottawa's one-way streets.
posted by modernnomad at 11:35 AM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rethinking the App Switcher for the iPhone 5 (mockups)

posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on October 9, 2012


Apple Maps outs secret military site, irks Taiwan
posted by homunculus at 5:55 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw: "Rethinking the App Switcher for the iPhone 5 (mockups)"

I love these, but the primary problem with the app switcher remains the need to perform complex surgery on the iButton to bring the damn thing up in the first place.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:58 PM on October 9, 2012


Developers: Apple ignored our warnings about iOS 6 Maps
posted by Egg Shen at 8:30 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple Has Quietly Started Tracking iPhone Users Again, And It's Tricky To Opt Out
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tech Pundits Take iPhone Complaints Directly to the Source on “Saturday Night Live”
posted by homunculus at 10:25 AM on October 14, 2012


Alleged screenshots of alpha build of native iOS Google Maps app.
posted by modernnomad at 2:55 PM on October 14, 2012


Alleged screenshots of alpha build of native iOS Google Maps app.

I like how that link tells me to "get excited." No, I think I'll stay comfortably apathetic thanx.
posted by JHarris at 5:29 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I tried to use Apple Maps's turn-by-turn directions today (in Ottawa) and Siri tried to steer me in completely the wrong direction. But hey, at least it gave me someone to argue with about orientation and directions in the car when I was driving alone, right?
posted by urbanlenny at 3:46 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently used the new Maps on a trip to Iceland. It was a mixed bag.

Pros:
Aggressive caching. I actually didn't have cellular data turned on at all. I would "load up" map tiles for my area under wifi, and be able to find my way around using the cached maps for the rest of the day in most cases. This is a weird benefit, but it is a benefit.

Cons:
Apple's maps know all the street names, but none of the addresses. So as you might expect, no directions. I didn't do a side-by-side of known POIs with Gmaps; Apple had pretty good coverage, but could have been better.
posted by adamrice at 10:23 AM on October 18, 2012


Were you looking for addresses when you had wifi connected? I know Google's offline maps still rely on the web to search for specific addresses.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:28 AM on October 18, 2012


There is still a fuckton of errors and woefully outdated info in the data for my city.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:31 AM on October 18, 2012


HZSF-yes, I was online when searching. I wouldn't expect that to work offline. If I searched for an address, it would stick a pin at the midpoint of the street; if I attempted to get directions, it would complain they were not supported or something.

In fairness, Gmaps doesn't seem to do any better with Reykjavik addresses, but it can route directions.
posted by adamrice at 4:12 PM on October 18, 2012


« Older From 1967-1968, Dr. Bill Podlich took a leave of a...  |  Epic Gallery: 150 Years Of Les... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments