iOS 6 has been with us for almost a week now, and is already seeing widespread adoption across Ireland. The biggest reaction by far has been to the new Apple Maps app which replaces the Google Maps app previously found on iPhone. In markets such as the US and Canada, Apple’s new maps seem to be fairly polished and well-received, but there have been howls of disappointment and frustration from users elsewhere. So how does the new Maps app stand up in Ireland?
The most well-known mistake in Maps is the designation of Airfield (a working farm with gardens) in South Dublin as an airport. Justice Minister Alan Shatter even felt the need to announce that he was informing Apple of this mistake in case a pilot used his iPhone to land there in rather far-fetched circumstances.
It’s interesting to note that this algorithm-generated mistake has not yet been corrected by Apple. Indeed absolutely no changes have been made to the Maps data since release. Dublin Zoo also makes an interesting appearance in Wicklow St, just off Temple Bar:
So on first appearances, Apple seems to have made an embarrassing mistake releasing maps in this state. But it is worth remembering Google Maps started somewhere more basic too. I can remember using them on the first iPhone and being disappointed that there were no businesses listed in Google’s Maps in Ireland at all initially. So we might think of Apple’s maps as being in an embryonic state from which they will hopefully improve and eventually surpass Google’s.
One interesting feature in the new Maps app is the fact that users can now report problems and suggest changes and additions. It is fairly easy to do this just by dropping a pin and tapping Report an Error. In my own town I have already reported a few roads which don’t exist, corrected some road names and told Apple where the pubs are. It’s just a matter of time before all this feedback from users is acted upon and maps improve massively. It’s also interesting that Apple is partnering with Yelp, which has lots of information on Irish businesses, their location and customer reviews. Strangely there seems to be a lot of information from Yelp missing from the Maps app. My local town has almost 100 businesses listed on Yelp, but not one of them is featured in Maps. I also found it pretty baffling that asking Siri to find me a pub gave results in a different county. I’ve signed up to Yelp since, and hopefully the data I’ve been providing about businesses in my town there will eventually filter through to Apple.
Perhaps the most worrying thing about Maps is that townland names in rural areas just aren’t there. This is something like leaving out all the street names in a major city, and really devalues the app from an Irish perspective. Just look at the disparity of information in these two maps of an area of Leitrim near Sligo Town, comparing Apple and Google:
That’s an extraordinary difference in results and usefulness. Frustratingly any app on your phone that uses MapKit in iOS to generate maps will produce the same cartography. If you find Apple Maps don’t work for you any more, don’t forget that you can access Google Maps through your web browser, and although the experience isn’t quite as smooth as before you can still see the old maps on your iPhone. You can even bookmark the app and give it an icon on your homescreen for quick access.
What has your experience of iOS 6 Maps in Ireland been like so far? Let us know in the comments!