Apple Maps is a web mapping service created by Apple. The service was first launched in September 2012 on Apple devices where it replaced the default service Google Maps. The platform drew near-instant criticism from users and pundits alike, with The Guardian reporting in October of the same year that Apple Maps was the company’s $30 billion mistake. This sentiment was echoed by The New York Times reporter David Pogue, who noted that “Maps is an appalling first release. It may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever released.”
Google Maps partnership
In 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the first-ever iPhone to a captive audience.
The partnership was profitable for both companies initially, but it became more complicated when Google’s Android operating system started to gain traction.
Google then asked Apple for access to iPhone user data to improve Google Maps, a request that did not sit well with Apple as a more conservative company that respected user privacy.
Destined for failure
A resentful and bitter Steve Jobs then rushed the development of Apple Maps which meant it was always destined to fail.
Once the app was released, there were countless usability issues, including the inaccurate placement of famous landmarks, poor or inconsistent navigation, and lackluster search results.
As if that wasn’t enough, some locations were misspelled, given the wrong name, or omitted from the map entirely.
Railway stations were either missing or shown as parks, and parks were sometimes labeled as airports.
In Dubin, Northern Ireland, a public farm called “Airfield” was displayed in the app as an airport that authorities believed would be misleading for a pilot needing to make an emergency landing.
Navigational errors were perhaps the most concerning, however.
In one instance, the app instructed drivers in Alaska to turn across an active runway at Fairbanks International Airport.
In another, tourists in Australia were directed into the middle of a remote desert after requesting directions to Mildura – a city with a population of around 33,000 people.
Richard Williamson, the overseer of the company’s mapping team, followed suit soon after.
Incoming CEO Tim Cook then suggested users switch to Bing Maps instead.
The Apple Maps user experience has improved in recent years, with the company spending billions of dollars to make the app more of the Apple brand.
Apple no longer relies on third-party mapping data from providers such as TomTom, which means the maps it provides are more accurate.
The company collects data from users and a fleet of vehicles and drones roaming the streets of America.
Users praise the app for its 3D graphics and virtual flyover functionality.
While the company has cornered around 12% of the mobile map app market, it is still a distant second to Google Maps with approximately 80%.
- Apple Maps is a web mapping service created by Apple. The service was first launched in September 2012 on Apple devices, where it replaced the default service Google Maps.
- Apple Maps was borne out of a relationship with Google that turned sour. Enraged and resentful, Steve Jobs rushed the development and release of the app, which meant usability issues plagued it. Many of these were deleterious to human health.
- Apple invested billions into the app with the appointment of Tim Cook, removing its dependence on third-party data providers, among other things. However, it is debatable whether Apple Maps can claw back any significant market share from Google Maps.
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