iOS 6 Apple Maps launches to a cacophony of jeers

iOS 6 is here. But Apple Maps, an integral selling point of both iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, has been slammed by critics. 

Reuters
Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS Software at Apple Inc., demonstrates turn-by-turn navigation in Apple Maps at an event in California last week.

Just about every Apple product launch comes with some sort of backlash. 

With the iPhone 4, it was the so-called "death grip." With the new iPad, it was Wi-Fi issues. And with the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 it's the new Maps app, which has been called everything from a "flop" to a "debacle" to just plain "ugly." 

Some backstory: For many years, Google Maps was the default mapping app on the iPhone. Now, beginning with the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, the default mapping app will be Apple Maps, an in-house product. 

Why boot Google Maps? Because Google is a competitor in the smartphone market. And there's no use giving a competitor stage space on your flagship device. Which would all be fine if the "the best smartphone on the market" wasn't running a deficient mapping application. 

"Apple believes that they can deliver a better experience for customers than Google," Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research, told Businessweek today. "But in the short term, Google has a better mapping application, and iPhone customers will suffer."

So what exactly makes Apple Maps, in the words of Zach Epstein of BGR, "an unsightly blemish on what is otherwise a beautiful OS"? Well, for one, there's no public transportation option – a bummer for folks who live in cities, and relied on Google Maps to tell them what train to take. There are some third-party plug-ins available (Gizmodo's list is good), but it does seem fairly inexcusable not to have the transit stuff baked in at launch. 

Worse yet, there seem to be all sorts of glitches with the maps themselves – see also the Tumblr called Amazing iOS 6 Maps, which documents particularly egregious flaws – and problems obtaining accurate directions. 

Over to Epstein of BGR: 

I have had a great deal of trouble when searching for most business names in Apple’s Maps app. This is especially problematic when I’m rushing to a meeting that I am already late for. Sadly, this happens often. Searching the name of a hotel or event center in Google Maps always took me right where I needed to go. The same cannot be said of Apple’s Maps app. Even if I’m within a mile of the place I’m looking for, Maps in iOS 6 often serves results that are across town or even in a different city.

The Apple iPhone 5 officially launches on Friday. iOS 6 is available for download now. Tried it out? Drop us a line in the comments section. And to receive regular updates on how technology intersects daily life, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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