Before I start building my defence of Apple’s Maps app, I’d better quickly cover the news coming from Bloomberg (via unnamed sources) that Richard Williamson, the manager in charge of Apple Maps, has been fired.
The public and press outcry at the poor quality of the app, especially in comparison to Google’s Maps app which Apple ditched in iOS6 in favour of their own, has already played a part in the dismissal of mobile software head Scott Forstall and now it seems that Williamson is out too, fired by SVP Eddie Cue.
Just to recap, when you compare Apple Maps to Google Maps there really is no comparison. Google’s app is way better than Apple’s. I’m not going to try and fight that. However, Apple Maps is nowhere near as bad as some are making out.
Yes, there are some very poor satellite images in there, resulting in atrocious looking ’3D’ renderings. Yes, there are huge swathes of blank, open land where there should be commerce, roads and other landmarks. In fact, Apple Maps is Google Maps some 3-5 years ago.
However, there are some real plus points to Apple Maps. Here they are, in no particular order.
First of all, it looks great. Put the two apps side by side showing the same location and you will immediately fall in love with Apple’s version over Google’s. Both look good, but Apple’s eye for design does shine through. Design over function isn’t Apple’s style though. And functionally, Apple Maps’ turn by turn navigation is, in my experience, brilliant.
The caveat here is that I have used it in the UK only, so this is limited experience. That said, I have driven to deepest, darkest Wales, right out in the countryside to the door of a rental cottage directed by Siri and Apple Maps. Without one wrong turn. This is the strength of Apple’s Maps app.
It’s done that each and every time. Have I pushed it to its limits? No. But I have, I feel, tested it pretty hard by making it navigate me through both Manchester’s tangled city center streets and Wales’ unlit, single track roads. It met each challenge perfectly.