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Our long international nightmare is over.
December 13, 2012 12:05 AM   Subscribe

Google Maps App by Google for Apple's iOS is now available. It features turn-by-turn voice navigation and streetview. It's a welcome end to "Map-gate".

Recently, an Australian police website posted a cautionary warning about not relying on Apple's mapping service. Hacker news meta discussion.

Australia's national broadcaster ABC has also reported concerns by police about Google's mapping system.

The good news is that iOS (6) users now have two 'free' turn-by-turn voice navigation apps to use. Redundancy generally being a good thing.

(Pre-empting mod intervention... please keep comments constructive please?)
posted by panaceanot (130 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sweet, I can update to iOS 6 finally.
posted by Auden at 12:16 AM on December 13, 2012 [26 favorites]


...eponysterical. (And yes, I'm buying an iPhone 5 because of this.)
posted by effugas at 12:16 AM on December 13, 2012


David Pogue's review suggests features were left out from the iOS version.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can update to iOS 6 finally.

No iPad-specific version means I'm staying with 5 for now.
posted by grouse at 12:37 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


David Pogue's review suggests features were left out from the iOS version.

I don't think it's that clear-cut. It might have features left out, but Google still admits that the iOS Google Maps is better than the Android one:

"This, it turns out, is the best news of all. The brand-new, completely rethought design is slick, simple and coherent. Google admits that it’s even better than Google Maps for Android phones, which has accommodated its evolving feature set mainly by piling on menus."

However, one of the left-out features is a big one:
"It still doesn’t let you download and store maps for use when you don’t have an Internet connection."

That makes Maps much less useful if you have a Wi-Fi only device. Google says they're fixing it, but it's not fixed yet.
posted by JHarris at 12:39 AM on December 13, 2012


Anyone who uses a free online mapping tool to travel in the wilderness (ie, the Australian Outback) is asking for trouble.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 AM on December 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mildura is not the outback, it's just the country. I've driven through Mildura but I wouldn't say I'd ever been in the outback.
posted by jacalata at 12:48 AM on December 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Lost my old phone in a taxi a fortnight ago, and have an iPhone 5 on the way.

I deliberately kept from upgrading to iOS6 so not as to lose my maps.

Welcome news, indeed.
posted by flippant at 12:53 AM on December 13, 2012


Finally, I can move Apple Maps to that lonely app group on the last screen. The one containing Stocks, Passbook, and the other useless crap iOS won't let me delete.
posted by Jimbob at 12:59 AM on December 13, 2012 [34 favorites]


I still keep the TomTom US / Canada app on my phone for navigation ever since my SO's work showed her the astronomical data bill she had racked up one month when using Google Maps for navigation on her Nexus Something. It takes a gig and a half of space but it's nice to have that peace of mind when out on a highway somewhere that you've got a way to get un-lost.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:10 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hallelujah! Was that the last reason not to upgrade on an iPhone 4?
posted by bink at 1:11 AM on December 13, 2012


There's still the horiffic Podcasts app, bink.
posted by Jimbob at 1:16 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyone stupid enough to get lost in a National Park near Mildura is a complete and utter idiot. It's very well sign-posted, there are major roads and perhaps people should take the opportunity to look around themselves when touring sometimes.
posted by wilful at 1:29 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Design Details of Google Maps for iOS.
posted by weston at 1:29 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jimbob: "There's still the horiffic Podcasts app, bink."

Instacast or Downcast are two great, over the air alternatives.

Tried out Google Maps this morning. Good to have it back. The transit and walking directions work well here in Scotland.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:41 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used the desktop version of Gmaps to try to quickly plan a trip from where we were living in Japan this past fall to Tokyo, and it doesn't quite work.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:47 AM on December 13, 2012


Here's the question.

The reason the Maps app didn't have vector tiles or turn-by-turn is Google demand a ton of personal info and tracking info to use them. Apple wouldn't give that to them. So, they had to build a new app, and that's very hard. They did a very good job, but every loves to point out every tiny mistake, but they could keep your personal info away from another company -- one dedicated to scraping every bit of info they can out of you to resell to other companies.

So: What are you giving to Google for those maps?

Me -- nothing. The two times I need the Apple Maps to work, it worked perfectly. One of them was in a rental car when I realized I had an hour less than I thought to get to DIA, and I didn't clearly know the way. I knew where the major Interstates were, but not how to get to them directly, and didn't have time to just keep working south until I hit I-70 or east until I hit I-25.

So. Hold down home button. Two dings. "Where is Denver International Airport?"

Brief pause.

"I've found Denver International Airport for you. It's pretty far."

(heart slumps a bit.) Hold down button. Two dings.

"Can you give me directions?"

"In one half mile, turn left onto Colorado 72...."

Never had to look at the screen. Made the flight with a half hour to spare. Didn't give Google my soul. Didn't realize how pretty the mapping screen in turn-by-turn mode was until mathowie posted a tweet about it, because I simply didn't look -- and didn't need to. I thought it was giving me some weird back route after the first three turns, then I saw the highway.

So, yeah. I'd prefer Google's maps, but not at the price they're offering for it. Apple's work, if you have some clue.
posted by eriko at 1:54 AM on December 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


As a counterpoint, KokuRyu, we visited Japan for 3 weeks, just getting back last Sunday, and found Google Maps to be a lifesaver. We had done a fair bit of research through blogs etc into restaurants, izakaya and sightseeing highlights that we loaded into our own My Maps maps in Google over the preceding months.

My fiancée has an HTC, an Android phone, and the Maps app on that has full support for custom-created My Maps. This meant we were in a far better position for finding places of interest than the normal tourist trying to find their way round using the dire Lonely Planet maps (as I had done on a prior visit).

Then again, we never tried to use the public transit route finding feature, so maybe that's your point of concern?
posted by LondonYank at 1:57 AM on December 13, 2012


Very, very happy about this.

Apple maps has been utter torture to use in London - not a single search has been quite right. That said, it did once get me out of a tricky traffic situation in Bristol when my old satnav had inaccurate data on the new road system (although all of the shops in the city centre were 5-6 years out of date in the Apple system...)

To those with privacy concerns - is there more going on here than what you can opt out of by unchecking "share mapping data" when the app first loads?
posted by ominous_paws at 2:09 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nokia Here maps is another nice alternative to Apple and Goog, also free for iOS. I was happy to see it had transit directions but the maps are a lot less colourul than the competition, and the UI chrome is what I'd expect from a second-tier iOS shop.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:16 AM on December 13, 2012


The reason the Maps app didn't have vector tiles or turn-by-turn is Google demand a ton of personal info and tracking info to use them. Apple wouldn't give that to them.


Where did you hear that? The commonly-accepted reason is that Google's contract with Apple simply didn't allow Apple to use Google's data for turn-by-turn directions, and Google had no interest in re-negotiating that part of the language.

Or are you saying Google's refusal to allow Apple to use the data for turn-by-turn directions was predicated on Apple's refusal to hand over the personal data Google wanted?
posted by kcds at 2:29 AM on December 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Already, the Google app has managed to correctly locate a grocery store that's 30 minutes from me, while my TomTom and Apple Maps both tried to direct me to a four-car parking lot under a bridge. (And that was when I put in the post code. Neither of them was aware that this particular chain of grocery stores actually had a location in the city in question)

The issue for me with Apple Maps was never even the shitty or inaccurate directions; it was the lack of a useful search capability and a valid database of Places That Actually Exist. I don't want to have to know the address for everything. I don't want to have to look it up in Safari and then return to it on the map. When I put in "Waitrose Saltash" (the grocery store and city in question) it should damn well come up with what I want, or be smart enough to ask me if it's got it right, rather than just say "Not Found." That's why Google's so good -- yeah yeah advertising, but they are also still a search company at the end of it, and that's why Google Maps is awesome. It's as smart as Google Web Search at correcting typos, guessing what it is you really meant, and giving you a chance to say "Oh no, you're right, this is actually what I wanted to search for," and then providing you a ton of extra information (phone numbers, opening hours, reviews, etc) along with it.

Breathing a huge sigh of relief now.
posted by olinerd at 2:30 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


JHarris: "However, one of the left-out features is a big one:
"It still doesn’t let you download and store maps for use when you don’t have an Internet connection."

That makes Maps much less useful if you have a Wi-Fi only device. Google says they're fixing it, but it's not fixed yet.
"

That feature is also helpful if you're driving into areas without a cell signal, which is quite common in the mountains around here.
posted by Red Loop at 2:44 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are in Australia the Whereis app has free turn-by-turn, and Goole licenses the Whereis maps anyway.
posted by awfurby at 3:17 AM on December 13, 2012


I'd prefer Google's maps, but not at the price they're offering for it.

As I often remind the kids - - "free" is often the most expensive choice.
posted by fairmettle at 3:43 AM on December 13, 2012


The feature where one can switch a streetview location so as to be able to "look around" by moving the phone is very clever.

I have not been able to find a way of switching the measurements to a metric format however. Has anybody?
posted by rongorongo at 4:00 AM on December 13, 2012


I don't drive and use public transport all the time. I don't like (as per eriko above) the price I pay for Google Maps but there is no other mobile alternative. I'm very glad I can get decent public transport info back on my phone - even though I wish there was an alternative I could pay for with money not information
posted by Gilgongo at 4:09 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh, there's a big welcome screen asking you if you want to share certain information with Google. You don't have to opt-in. (You do however need to share your current location because, duh it's a map application)
posted by FreezBoy at 4:47 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google Maps is back on the home page of my iPhone bumping a flashlight app. I'm keeping Apple maps on the home page until I check out whether this is the Google Maps I used to know and love. So far I'm already not liking the inability to drop and name a pin and I haven't figured out how to save my routes. Yes, I logged in but it doesn't seem to do anything for me. Yet. Too bad there isn't an iPad version. We can only hope that and the routes for bicyclists is coming soon.
posted by birdwatcher at 5:01 AM on December 13, 2012


Huh. I also haven't upgraded my iPhone 4S because of the maps issue. Playing around with the Google version, it seems like there's an awful lot of chrome getting in the way of my map. Could this thing have been optimized only for the iPhone 5 screen?
posted by awenner at 5:15 AM on December 13, 2012


I can't say I'm a fan of the design. The margin around that already-too-big search box is driving me nuts. Combine that with the panel that slides up from the bottom and it gives the app a very claustrophobic feel. It gets downright ridiculous in landscape orientation. The giant Google Earth button that kicks you out of the app is also bullshit.

Otherwise, it's Google Maps, the kind we've all been using for years. It's a fast, high quality iOS app.

Between Apple's wonderful 3D maps, Google's street view, and now not one but two choices for free turn-by-turn directions, things are pretty great right now.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 5:21 AM on December 13, 2012


Anyone know if it works well in South Korea? I finally could update!
posted by nile_red at 5:22 AM on December 13, 2012


The app should work on iOS 5 so you can try it out before you update.
posted by pixie at 5:34 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Confirmed, the app worked fine on iOS 5. I played with transit directions and checked some downtown stuff (one way streets, etc) that I knew from my iPad to be wrong and it was so nice to see them right again! I'm watching my phone's little progress bar right now as it finally updates to iOS 6, and I'm super excited already that I'll never have to type my ridiculous password ever again just to install free app updates. :)
posted by trackofalljades at 5:41 AM on December 13, 2012


As we celebrate the war's end, let us take a moment to remember the fallen.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:41 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't seem as good as the old Google Maps on iOS. Tries to foist the useless Google Earth onto me. Screen estate is taken up by mandatory Google chaff - I assume that engineers are sat down and told "users dislike seeing the information they want! Show them lots of menu bars!" by some useless MBA gonk, deep in the bowls of the Googleplex.
posted by The River Ivel at 5:50 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple's work, if you have some clue.

I don't think that's fair. Apple's worked...if you're going via major highway to some place as unmissable as the Denver airport. Your sample size of two trips is not at all scientific or helpful for those of us who have had trouble with it (and, for the record, I have some clue).

It would be nice if Siri worked with plug-ins and you could swap map experiences if you like. But Apple doesn't allow for that, so here we are.
posted by inturnaround at 5:54 AM on December 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Honestly, I prefer Waze to either of them.
posted by mkb at 5:54 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's funny, I finally installed iOS 6 two days ago, when I decided that I hardly ever use the maps anyhow, and now this. And I've gotta say, on my old iPhone 4, iOS 6 does seem a lot snappier in many places. This is just icing for when I actually need maps.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:57 AM on December 13, 2012


And it has proper tramsit? OK, sold, I guess I can upgrade now.
posted by Artw at 6:01 AM on December 13, 2012


MetaFilter: -gate.
posted by Splunge at 6:07 AM on December 13, 2012


Well, this is a pretty good approximation of the Capitol Building dome, I guess.
posted by General Malaise at 6:10 AM on December 13, 2012


Super - once the iOS 6 jailbreak is released and I can continue running Cydia and the excellent tethering app MiWi, I'm all in on my iPhone 4.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:14 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel about electronic maps like I feel about Kindle-reading. Ook.

Give me a piece of paper that covers the territory - rattles and folds and stashes and marks-up - and doesn't leave out a bunch of crap (as is happening to the online Gmaps). I might change my mind when e-paper emerges (in only 20 years!!)

Thanks for staying off the lawn.
posted by Twang at 6:15 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was awfully thoughtful of Google and Apple to rush this through so quickly once they heard that I bought an iPhone 5 yesterday.

I like it better than the old iOS 5 Maps—it seems like it uses vector tiles, it has a nice public transit map layer that highlights train lines, and if you are willing to hand over your soul to Google and sign in with your Google account it knows all of the locations you frequently search for in the online version. It isn't claustrophobic at all on the bigger iPhone 5 screen. So nice to still have a map package that I don't have to buy a fucking car to get any use out of.
posted by enn at 6:21 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


David Pogue's review suggests features were left out from the iOS version.

Because heavens forfend Google actually defend its own ecosystem while releasing a product considered superior by nearly everyone on a direct competitors'.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:28 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks pixie.... I just assumed it would (like some recent apps and app updates) only work in iOS6 without trying it.

In any case..."Public transit information not available in this region"

Boooo.
posted by nile_red at 6:32 AM on December 13, 2012


I don't think that's fair. Apple's worked...if you're going via major highway to some place as unmissable as the Denver airport.

We spent 10 days driving around a lot of middle-of-nowhere in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, and when I could get a cell signal, Apple maps worked fine.

But we also had paper maps, which I generally prefer for road trips like that - I like to see a wider swath of area than is possible on a phone, and I think (possibly erroneously) they're less likely to contain the kinds of errors that the online maps/apps do. And I just like maps.
posted by rtha at 6:33 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because heavens forfend Google actually defend its own ecosystem while releasing a product considered superior by nearly everyone on a direct competitors'.

OR it's a quick 1.0. From all I've heard, Google was not given much advance warning that this was going to happen and had to scramble to put out an iOS standalone app. I'd imagine some features were jettisoned for the 1.0 because they'd be time consuming to intergrate just yet and others because the app is not tied to the OS like it can be with Android.
posted by inturnaround at 6:35 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's still the horiffic Podcasts app, bink.

You're only forced to use the Podcasts app if you go to iTunes 11 on whatever box you use for syncing, at which point iTunes will only send updates to the Podcasts app on your iOS device. Otherwise Podcasts stay as a tab in the Music app.

In unrelated news: WHY THE FUCK DID I "UPGRADE" TO ITUNES 11 BEFORE THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATING WHETHER THEY HAD PULLED SOME ARBITRARY BULLSHIT LIKE THIS?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:37 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


birdwatcher: "So far I'm already not liking the inability to drop and name a pin and I haven't figured out how to save my routes. Yes, I logged in but it doesn't seem to do anything for me. Yet. Too bad there isn't an iPad version. We can only hope that and the routes for bicyclists is coming soon."

You can drop a pin by tapping and holding. If you flick up the address that appears, you can 'star' it to save it and tap into Street View.

Don't think you can save journeys or name pins, but shake and you can provide feedback.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:44 AM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


In unrelated news: WHY THE FUCK DID I "UPGRADE" TO ITUNES 11 BEFORE THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATING WHETHER THEY HAD PULLED SOME ARBITRARY BULLSHIT LIKE THIS?

I've gotten a lot of use out of Downcast on iOS. It's pretty inexpensive.
posted by JHarris at 6:49 AM on December 13, 2012


I have an iPhone 5, iTunes 11, and don't have the terrible Podcasts app - it still works and syncs perfectly for me by having podcasts as a tab in the Music app. Hm.
posted by General Malaise at 6:50 AM on December 13, 2012


Lentrohamsanin: "You're only forced to use the Podcasts app if you go to iTunes 11 on whatever box you use for syncing, at which point iTunes will only send updates to the Podcasts app on your iOS device. Otherwise Podcasts stay as a tab in the Music app. "

I'm using iTunes 11 and iOS 6 and and after deleting the Podcast app they show up in the music app.
posted by the_artificer at 6:51 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've gotten a lot of use out of Downcast on iOS.

Thing is, my main problem is not having podcasts integrated in the Music app. The Podcasts app itself is fine (well, okay, the reel to reel tape animation is stupid), there was just no reason (for me) to have a separate app to manage them.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:51 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm using iTunes 11 and iOS 6 and and after deleting the Podcast app they show up in the music app.

But do you get new episodes? Once I went to iTunes 11 new episodes that I had downloaded into iTunes were no longer syncing in the Music app, though old episodes that I had downloaded before going to 11 were still available.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:54 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've got it set to sync "all unplayed" of "all podcasts" in iTunes and it's working on my iPod Touch.
posted by the_artificer at 6:58 AM on December 13, 2012


The most maddening thing about the Apple Maps app is that whenever I ask for transit direction options here in Victoria BC it kicks me over to the app store to some transit apps that don't apply to me. Just unnaceptable given the database readily available.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:01 AM on December 13, 2012


I downloaded Google Maps because I like choice but I refuse to use it on principle.
posted by mazola at 7:01 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Even Apple's new Maps app that everyone likes to complain about includes street names in the spoken navigation. As does Waze, which includes a hell of a lot more than that. On first use this morning, testing how the new Google Maps would route me from home to work, I found the voice navigation lagged noticeably, too. "In a thousand feet... ... ... ... turn right." Version 1, but still. If the much-maligned Apple app can do stuff well, Google's app ought to be able to do at least the very same stuff.
posted by emelenjr at 7:05 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, yeah. I'd prefer Google's maps, but not at the price they're offering for it. Apple's work, if you have some clue.

I'm seconding inturnaround - My anecdata disagrees with yours!! I first read about issues with applemaps on the Guardian and was instantly sceptical - they tend to get slightly breathless and giddy when reporting apple-related news and I assumed it was an overreaction based on a couple of amusing errors, like artifacts on google earth or whatever.

Upgraded to iOS6 and look, 3D maps!! Pretty!! Took my phone motorcycling that weekend as I went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Interlaken. That evening, I bumped apple maps into a folder with other abandoned apps and brought a hugely annoying homescreen shortcut to google maps in to replace it.

Look up Interlaken, Switzerland on google maps. Zoom out, and the name will disappear. Zoom in, and it will probably reappear, probably at about the same time that Thun and Spietz do. On the original apple maps, the name would. not. come. up. at. all. Refusing to believe in my destination, and giving the wrong / no name for almost every small town that I passed between Basel and Interlaken was enough for me.

Thrilled to have google maps back as an app.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 7:07 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


WHY THE FUCK DID I "UPGRADE" TO ITUNES 11 BEFORE THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATING WHETHER THEY HAD PULLED SOME ARBITRARY BULLSHIT LIKE THIS?

I learned long ago not to update iTunes except in the direst necessity.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:11 AM on December 13, 2012


But do you get new episodes? Once I went to iTunes 11 new episodes that I had downloaded into iTunes were no longer syncing in the Music app, though old episodes that I had downloaded before going to 11 were still available.

What? Oh fuck no.

/CANCELS UPGRADE.
posted by Artw at 7:12 AM on December 13, 2012


another good podcast app alternative: pocketcasts
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:22 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got to use this for a bit last night, and the UI is indeed very slick, even on an iPhone 4S -- I'm not sure what "extra chrome" people seem to be complaining about.

It's still lacking a few features that the Android version has, but generally looks and feels fantastic. The UI is unquestionably smoother and more elegant than the equivalent on Android.
posted by schmod at 7:30 AM on December 13, 2012


Since we're mentioning iTunes quirks, what is up with drag & dropping files now? If I USB my iPod Touch to the PC and iTunes automatically loads, it won't let me manually drop files into the 'On This Device' screen, but if I have iTunes already open and then hook the iPod up, it will (usually) let me. MADNESS
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:31 AM on December 13, 2012


Anyone know if it works well in South Korea? I finally could update!

nile_red, when I was recently in Seoul I tried Google Maps (the web version that was available on iOS 6 prior to the app that just came out), Apple Maps, Naver Maps, and Daum Maps. The only one that worked consistently well, including public transit information, was the Daum app. The Naver and Daum apps are in Korean, though. (Both Google and Apple maps were sometimes annoyingly and sometimes hilariously wrong - won't use them again to navigate through the Hongdae area!)
posted by research monkey at 7:33 AM on December 13, 2012


iOS Devs Now Have Access To Google’s Awesome Maps
posted by zombieflanders at 8:28 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


No iPad maps = no iOS 6 upgrade for this lad's pad. It's the stone cold deal breaker. Glad someone pointed it out early in this thread, because the download page lists iPad.
posted by VicNebulous at 8:33 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, this is a pretty good approximation of the Capitol Building dome, I guess.

Looks like the library tower from Myst.
posted by VicNebulous at 8:34 AM on December 13, 2012


Now that our latest long international nightmare is over, I can't wait to find out what the new anti-Apple talking point will be.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:47 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let's hope you make the right choice with that privacy checkbox (you know, the one that stops world's largest advertiser from tracking your every move) on app first launch. Because if you change your mind later you only have to dig 6 levels into the app to find where you can set it again.
posted by schwa at 8:48 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


i was surprised last night, as I checked a few things before bed, and I see Google Maps is back, after continually checking apple rumor sites for months about this. i've been waiting to upgrade my phone since the launch of iOS6 for this to happen. maps is my 2nd most used app (behind the Chrome browser, which also defeats Safari for me, at least), so it was important to me that I wasn't forced to downgrade.

sorry, Apple. I love your tech and your software, but your homemade Apps are somewhat poor. all the apps you forced onto the iphone are hiding out in an abandoned app folder. I love that you tried to go out on your own for something this important, but you just do not have the mapping resources Google has and it showed.
posted by ninjew at 8:50 AM on December 13, 2012


Welp, I tried a 'blind taste test' with Apple and Google Maps. I tried to do a search for 'Marchyshyn's Home Meat Market' (a place I went to yesterday) then do directions from my home.

Google: a) search found correct location; b) route was reasonable (in short: works like it's expected)

Apple: a) search found correct location; b) when I tried to make a route, it changed the destination location and plotted it 73 km outside of Edmonton (!). That's really strange since it found and located the place on the initial search.

That's unbelievable.

I have submitted my first Map bug report to Apple.
posted by mazola at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2012


oh my god it switches to landscape

oh how i've waited for this

*swoon*
posted by ninjew at 8:56 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Folks maybe don't pre-doom the thread anticipating shitty comments that aren't here? Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


+10 for waze. Nothing beats crowd sourced traffic data and user flagged events/objects.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:44 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reading some of what was written above me regarding Podcasts has given me hope, so before I screw things up, can someome confirm that if I delete the Podcasts app, podcasts will reappear in the Music app? Is that right? And will continue to do so if I upgrade to iTunes 11 as well?
posted by Jimbob at 9:51 AM on December 13, 2012


Let's hope you make the right choice with that privacy checkbox (you know, the one that stops world's largest advertiser from tracking your every move) on app first launch. Because if you change your mind later you only have to dig 6 levels into the app to find where you can set it again.

To be specific you need:
Home Page /Profile / Settings /About Terms and Privacy /Terms and Privacy /Location Data Collection/"Off"
posted by rongorongo at 9:52 AM on December 13, 2012


To be specific you need:
Home Page /Profile / Settings /About Terms and Privacy /Terms and Privacy /Location Data Collection/"Off"


Out of curiosity, how do you do the same for Apple's data collection? I no longer have access to an iOS device, so I can't check myself.
posted by VoteBrian at 10:05 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple's is a little deeper IIRC, and got switched on in secret in the last update. No?
posted by ominous_paws at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2012


This pleases me greatly. Apple Maps were laughably, incomprehensibly bad in far too many ways (though they sure are pretty, lack of night mode aside).

I wish Apple would allow 3rd party apps to replace their stock apps as the defaults, but bringing back a first rate mapping programme from Google has certainly (if ironically) reduced any consideration I might have been giving to jumping ship to Android.
posted by modernnomad at 10:09 AM on December 13, 2012


Why Google Maps is Better than Apple Maps: The takeaway here is odd. It's not about Big Data but Big Labor [sic]. Apple employs roughly 25,000 people in the core business (outside retail), so it might be unthinkable to hire a few thousand people (more than 10 percent of the current company) to make its maps competitive. But so far, that's the only proven way to build a great digital mapping system. Deal with that. Or deal with Google.
posted by modernnomad at 10:22 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


We spent 10 days driving around a lot of middle-of-nowhere in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, and when I could get a cell signal, Apple maps worked fine.

Haven't had any problem in my area either.

Here's the thing... It didn't matter how great google maps was previously because without turn by turn directions it was useless for me. So Apple maps filled a void. Now, suddenly, after Apple releases their own maps, like magic, Google releases a maps application with turn by turn (that even works on older iPhones, which Apple's own maps wouldn't). So now I have two mapping applications, for free, with turn by turn.

That's awesome. I hope google does everything it can to be considered the superior mapping app, and I hope Apple does everything it can to catch up. Win/win for iPhone owners.
posted by justgary at 11:08 AM on December 13, 2012


Google demand a ton of personal info and tracking info to use them

Pretty amazing that you were part of the Apple-Google negotiations over the maps deal and you're so willing to talk about it openly in public. Odd how no one from either Google or Apple has ever said anything like this, ever.

Also, please list the PII that Google Maps on iOS is collecting if you're not actually logged in using your google id.
posted by GuyZero at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


David Pogue's review suggests features were left out from the iOS version.

Google Map's desktop version has features missing from the Android version.

Clearly Google is biased against Android.
posted by GuyZero at 11:34 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doesn't seem as good as the old Google Maps on iOS.

There is no "old Google Maps on iOS". Previously Apple had a mapping app that they wrote and Google supplied the data. in iOS 6 Apple switched to its own database which was built primarily with data licensed from other third parties that are not Google. But Google has never written a Maps app for iOS unless you count Google Earth which isn't exactly the same thing.
posted by GuyZero at 11:37 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was one of two problems keeping me from updating to iOS 6. When I tried to install the VLC media player on my mom's iPAD the other day I noticed it had been pulled from the app store. If there's a decent media player that can play as many codecs as VLC, only then can I finally "upgrade."
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2012


There is no "old Google Maps on iOS".

Yes there is. It was a built-in app from Apple that let you use Google Maps...oh wait, you knew about that. Well, that's what everyone was talking about.
posted by jacalata at 11:52 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Podcast derail: I listen to podcasts almost exclusively for my "commute". The podcast app was sucky, but deleting it from the phone brought the podcasts back to iTunes. I've since upgraded to iTunes 11 on my host laptop, and haven't seen any issues with syncing new podcasts. They work fine.

I do use playlists for my podcasts - I learned a long time ago that as long as you have at least one song in a playlist, you can add podcasts to it. No idea whether that trick is still needed or not - I just keep a song on my "Walk" playlist.)

Maps - I've really liked Apple Maps. The vector tiles are great, and allow me to pre-cache maps if I know where I'm going. And now I have a better google maps, should I want to use it? What's not to like?
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2012


Two good pieces of news today!

This, and the start of the CALM act -- making it a violation to allow commercials on tv to be louder than the tv show.

Yay!
posted by vitabellosi at 11:57 AM on December 13, 2012


I realize I'm splitting hairs, but it was never "Google Maps". Google had no control over the UI or the functionality of the app. There's a huge difference between it being Google's data and it being Google's app.

One upon a time prior to Android and iOS the web version of Google Maps used all data licensed from third parties. Nobody called that "Navteq Maps".
posted by GuyZero at 11:58 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing I find frustrating is that this is a self-inflicted wound on Apple's part. Apple has built itself into one of the world's most valuable companies by providing niche, high quality, beautifully designed hardware at a premium, and taking 30% of sales of media/apps designed by others through its App Store.

Every single time it has stuck a toe into online services beyond selling media, it has been pretty shit for all concerned. iCloud? MobileMe? Maps? Ping? Why even bother? Let Google be Google, whose entire raison d'etre is to organize the world's information and make it accessible. Likewise, let Apple be Apple.

Unless Apple foresees a day when they no longer sell hardware, this fucking about with cloud services, maps, or whatever is all just a distraction from what their core mission should be. They're not good at it, and they should stop. They are very, very good at building beautiful hardware, and that's what they should keep doing.
posted by modernnomad at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apple has been the poster-boy for vertical integration of software and hardware since they were founded. I doubt it's even possible for them to stop. There's definitely a difference between software and software-based services but I think this distinction is lost on consumers other than the clear issues with all the services you mention.

Besides, while they may not be a "best of breed" provider, I'm sure there's a place for Apple's services in the world.
posted by GuyZero at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2012


Besides, while they may not be a "best of breed" provider, I'm sure there's a place for Apple's services in the world.


I wonder though if this does damage to the Apple 'brand' though, which is definitely a 'premium' one. If you don't have the capability of producing best-of-breed services, does it hurt your overall image if you repeatedly put out mediocre ones? If you're a start-up, no one expects you to be the best right out of the gate, but Apple's focus on "it just works" over its lifespan has created tremendous expectations for anything it puts out; I think this why the backlash to the maps debacle was so strong.

Apple has a carefully nurtured (and justified - I am a big fan) image/reputation of quality, simplicity, and design. I think there is a risk of harming that reputation as a whole by repeated failures in the realm of online services, even though the hardware side of the business remains top notch. I'm convinced that the elevation of Ive to a broader position within the company is actually Cook acknowledging this risk.
posted by modernnomad at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2012


Honestly, I prefer Waze to either of them.

Really? Waze has virtually no consistently useful information beyond what is user-generated, and more than half the time (ie, most of the time) it is impossible to post user-generated data, at least where I live in Canada. And the information Waze does have is not particularly useful, beyond basic things like "intersection" or "traffic light." There's no way to add a business or most landmarks.

The signup process is also convoluted, perhaps for good reason, but it's not really a useful alternative for the majority of people out there using a smartphone.

Interestingly, though, Apple's mapping service relies on Waze data (plus a lot of other GIS providers) for its own maps. So if you do manage to add something to Waze, it may become a little part of iOS maps.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:51 PM on December 13, 2012


I love me some Waze if I know the address. Search is completely useless. It never, ever shows the thing closest to my location. If I'm searching for "Kohl's" I don't mean some town in Ohio. It doesn't even show the closest store.

Google? First try.
posted by desjardins at 1:51 PM on December 13, 2012


It's as if those thousands of engineers working for a decade on search actually accomplished something.
posted by GuyZero at 1:57 PM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Apple's work, if you have some clue.

A couple days ago I was in the Hollywood/Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. La Cienega & 3rd by Beverly Center to be exact. I searched for "restaurant" in Apple Maps and got fewer than 10 results despite looking around & seeing about 30 restaurants just from where I was standing.
posted by univac at 2:23 PM on December 13, 2012


Waze has potential, but it's too locked down to make the most of the potential of a massive amounts of user-generated data. That's all.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:23 PM on December 13, 2012


Apple's vertical integration is definitely their strong point. While parts of the Apple empire may not have been always good, it was always nice how everything was consistent and fit together.

They do make nice hardware, but so can a lot of other companies. It's their software that works really well with their hardware's design that works well.

I have an android phone, and while I like some of the features of Waze, I never really found it that much better than Google Maps Navigation. While I like the possibility of real-time traffic rerouting, the problem is all the holes in Waze's maps/POI and the mediocre interface (that could just be Android being the second priority app). I know it's supposed to get better with more users, but I felt like a lot of things that were automatic and clean with Navigation are not as easy with Waze. The app also tended to crash sometimes, which is not good when you're driving. And the user-reporting stuff didn't work too well in practice, as it's not really possible to write out a traffic report while driving. And people would flag any number of cars as traffic in my area to get points.

Considering Google Maps is slated to get in-route rerouting soon (as in, it sees a traffic jam and reroutes you around it), I don't really see much point in Waze. It can't really improve fast enough to catch up with Google's steady improvements, in my opinion.

If the iOS Google Maps app is faithful to the quality of the Android version, you guys are in for a treat. I know you sort of had Google Maps in iOS <6, but not the turn-by-turn stuff from Google.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:32 PM on December 13, 2012


"Siri. Where can I get a decent map for my iPhone?"

posted by mmrtnt at 2:46 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used it on my way home from work - with voice navigation - and I was very pleased. The voice sounds fairly natural, although the roads I took have simple names like "Bay" and "Russell." It tried to send me down a perfectly logical but slightly longer path, probably because it has fewer turns, but rerouted very quickly when I took my usual way home.

My favorite part was "Your destination is on the left." That will be incredibly useful on multi-lane roads.
posted by desjardins at 3:40 PM on December 13, 2012


Okay question; the app itself is pretty small - where are the voice directions coming from (on my Siri-less iPhone 4)? Streamed online from Google?
posted by Jimbob at 4:10 PM on December 13, 2012


Best thing about Waze is that it gives you some heads up re speed traps and it does a better job of notifying re traffic jams. But I do agree that it's awful if you're searching for a place without knowing its address.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:15 PM on December 13, 2012


This morning, Maps wasn't announcing street names, but this evening it decided to. I wonder if the amount of synthesized speech Google sends to the phone is somehow dependent on signal strength or something like that.

So, upon further review, I take back a lot of what I said earlier about the app. I already love being able to quickly save a destination for future use upon arriving there.
posted by emelenjr at 4:36 PM on December 13, 2012


modernnomad: "If you're a start-up, no one expects you to be the best right out of the gate, but Apple's focus on "it just works" over its lifespan has created tremendous expectations for anything it puts out; I think this why the backlash to the maps debacle was so strong. "

My theory: Apple could have avoided this entire shitstorm if they just released their new Maps app as a (long-lived) public beta, and left the old Maps app alone until feedback from the beta was positive.

Feedback from the semi-open beta was overwhelmingly negative, and Apple shipped anyway. A stable beta that isn't "feature complete" rarely attracts criticism. On the other hand, if you ship a new product that contains numerous regressions from the previous version whilst simultaneously obliterating any trace of that previous version.....

It's not like this is Apple's first time learning this lesson. They botched the Final Cut X release in the exact same way. Apple interpreted all of the negative feedback as "Users haven't come around to doing things in our new/better way yet," completely missing the fact that a lot of the criticism was perfectly legitimate, and that the new app had "dealbreaker" regressions for most users. Apple shipped anyway, and stopped selling or supporting FCP 7. Incremental updates have made FCP X more tolerable, but the update cycle has been far from urgent, and most professional editors are now considering Apple's video editing platform to be dead.

That said, Apple writes good software, and makes fantastic hardware. Google Maps really showcases some of iOS's great graphical capabilities. The UI is a whole lot more slick than its equivalent Android app (which is still considered the "crown jewel" of that platform)
posted by schmod at 5:06 PM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


GuyZero: "Besides, while they may not be a "best of breed" provider, I'm sure there's a place for Apple's services in the world."

Well it is pretty awesome how I can rotate the satellite/3D image of my house around to see my backyard. Google just shows a flat image.

But yeah, the 3 times I had to take muni today, I used Google Maps.
posted by danny the boy at 5:30 PM on December 13, 2012


Google shows synthetic 3D images in Google Earth on iOS and in the desktop web app. I'm not precisely sure if I can explain why both Google Maps and Google Earth both exist as separate thing other than the basic issue that there's a finite number of developers available to merge them.

Bing maps on iOS shows 45 degree aerial imagery (separate from orthographic aerial) which is actually pretty nice although it years and years out of date depending on where you look. Google's imagery for my house is fairly new - Bing's "bird's-eye" view is from 2006-ish.
posted by GuyZero at 6:08 PM on December 13, 2012


Well it is pretty awesome how I can rotate the satellite/3D image of my house around to see my backyard.

I think it's awesome that the first thing most people do with a maps app is look up their house.
posted by desjardins at 8:10 PM on December 13, 2012


>>To be specific you need:
>>Home Page /Profile / Settings /About Terms and Privacy /Terms and Privacy /Location Data >>Collection/"Off"

Out of curiosity, how do you do the same for Apple's data collection? I no longer have access to an iOS device, so I can't check myself.


That would be 'Settings/General/About/Advertising/Limit Ad Tracking/"Off"'
The rule seems to be "Hide the privacy opt-out option 6 levels deep under a menu path that users would normally expect to contain no user settable information. Under no circumstances put it anywhere near the 'Privacy' menu".

I used it on my way home from work - with voice navigation - and I was very pleased. The voice sounds fairly natural, although the roads I took have simple names like "Bay" and "Russell."

Here in France the English voice does a terrible job of pronouncing the street names (which is consistent with all the other navigation tools I have used). French voices make an equally awful job of, say, English street names (let alone Scottish or Welsh ones). What is needed is a multi-lingual voice that caters for the street name pronunciation of whatever country I happen to be in. I would love to see that one day.
posted by rongorongo at 12:33 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The transit info in Google Maps is very poor, at least for Seattle. No bus details, whatsoever. I think I'll stick with OneBusAway and Apple's maps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:52 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went in to check the location data settings, because I couldn't remember what I might have done when I ecstatically downloaded the app. Apparently I am dumb, because I don't understand why you wouldn't want to share Anonymous location data. Is it because you are worried that its not anonymous enough? I am genuinely puzzled.
posted by Joh at 7:09 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kinda nifty how we went from zero free vector-based map apps with turn-by-turn navigation to two free vector-based map apps with turn-by-turn navigation, and it wouldn't have happened had Apple not decided to try to put together its own maps.

Can't really complain in the end, other than having to make the choice between wonderful software with questionable map data and wonderful map data with questionable software quality (iPhone 5 can't even scroll at 60fps? Really, Google?)
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:47 AM on December 14, 2012


The transit info in Google Maps is very poor, at least for Seattle. No bus details, whatsoever. I think I'll stick with OneBusAway and Apple's maps.

I don't know about the iOS version, but the web and Android versions of GMaps list schedules, fares, and estimated travel time for most if not all bus and rail stops in my area (and a number of transit agencies in about 500 other cities, including Seattle). If you're looking for real-time information, that has to be authorized for use by Google by the municipal transit authority, which despite being open-source, only a few places have done. It's worth noting that the creator of OneBusAway now works for Google Transit, which hopefully means he's easing discussions for Seattle to partner up.

Kinda nifty how we went from zero free vector-based map apps with turn-by-turn navigation to two free vector-based map apps with turn-by-turn navigation, and it wouldn't have happened had Apple not decided to try to put together its own maps.

Are you just talking about the iOS version? Because GMaps for Android has been using vector-based maps for two years, and turn-by-turn for even longer.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:15 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW I use the transit option on the old Google Map for bus info in Seattle all the time, and it does indeed work perfectly well, and I'd be kind of shocked if the new one lacked the same functionality.
posted by Artw at 8:19 AM on December 14, 2012


I'd be kind of shocked if the new one lacked the same functionality.

There's a transit button, but no information about the bus. If, say, you use bus stops that serve two or more lines, Google's app is next to completely useless, compared with working alternatives. You'd be guessing which bus is on its way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:31 AM on December 14, 2012


In a couple of days of playing around with it, transit is working perfectly in Toronto - subways, streetcars, buses, everything. Turn by turn seems mostly fine. The voice is a lot smoother/less robotic than Siri, though it still does mispronounce a couple of our more oddly-named streets. Voice directions are only available for driving options it seems, rather than pedestrian or transit. Vector graphics are just as smooth on my 4S as the apple counterpart.

For those curious, the screen does pop-up a streetview image of your location upon arrival, which is cool and handy if you're going somewhere you've never been before. Lack of night mode and integration with contacts is an annoyance that I hope gets fixed soon (especially the latter).
posted by modernnomad at 9:23 AM on December 14, 2012


There's a transit button, but no information about the bus. If, say, you use bus stops that serve two or more lines, Google's app is next to completely useless, compared with working alternatives. You'd be guessing which bus is on its way.

This seems unlikely, seeing as how the web and Android versions both indicate multiple buses for any given stop that serves multiple routes. Like Artw, I'd be shocked if this was left out of the iOS version, since it seems to be part of the API.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:37 AM on December 14, 2012


Maybe Toronto works, but Seattle does not, it seems. Maybe Google will fix this bug in a future revision of their app.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2012


/downloads app
/searches for transit directions home
/gets results as expected.

Hmm.

It does say "free", which if that's supposed to be the fare is incorrect.
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on December 14, 2012


Also if you do a swipe there is a transit menu, which does indeed bring up some kind of map that is very light on details.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on December 14, 2012


I'll see if I can download it again and make a video of what I saw on my phone. I could see when the next bus would arrive ("next bus in x minutes"), but it doesn't say what the next bus actually is. So if you're downtown at a bus stop on 3rd or 4th that serves twelve lines, you're basically guessing which bus will be next. Not very useful. Maybe there's another way to get to the correct information, but it's not from tapping the transit button, apparently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2012


No, no, you're probably right. I just don't use it that way.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on December 14, 2012


There's used to be a bug which may very well still not be fixed where if the GTFS file that the transit agency provides to Google includes multiple fares, Google always displays the lowest fare. The trouble is that usually these lower fares are for specific types of passengers (children, seniors, students) which aren't applicable in general. It's actually a deficiency in the GTFS format. And maybe it's a totally a different bug by now, but that used to be the explanation. (I have not dealt with GTFS for a while)
posted by GuyZero at 10:34 AM on December 14, 2012


Seattle used to have a free ride zone, which it may be picking up on, though the destination I entered would be outside of that. Kids are definatly free. and part of the route is on foot, so free.

If its any of those things really they need to fix it or drop it as a feature.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Looks like the time you get if you click a bus stop is just travel time to that bus stop, not next bus or anything.
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2012


The King County Metro GTFS feed always has minor errors. I use Google Maps for general route planning, but if I want to get more specific information about when exactly a bus is scheduled, I always use OneBusAway. They are better at following up and correcting these errors.
posted by grouse at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Evidently there was heavy demand.
posted by juiceCake at 6:01 PM on December 15, 2012


I'd prefer Google's maps, but not at the price they're offering for it.

"The difference with regard to privacy is that Apple profits almost solely through the sale of hardware products. Google profits almost solely through targeted advertising." - via
posted by fairmettle at 7:26 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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