Apple Asks For Patience, Would It Block A Google Maps App?

Apple is taking a painful public beating right now on its new mapping app. Some people are even starting to get a bit hysterical over some of its failings. It’s turning into the iPhone 5′s version of “antennagate.” Indeed, much more negative publicity might cause some “fence sitters” to hold off on upgrading or buying the device.

It’s curious that the product is so glitch-ridden. One would have assumed that the company had some indication of these problems from developers who’ve had the new OS for several months.

Yet the scale of feedback now is much greater. While Apple has thousands of developers it now has perhaps millions of iOS 6 users — just 24 hours after the update was released. That has unleashed this massive wave of feedback/criticism.

Apple might have avoided some of this if had positioned Maps as a beta product and solicited crowd-sourced feedback accordingly. In the absence of such messaging, everyone had inflated expectations.

High Expectations Leading to Harsh Criticism

Apple must have also known that it would be judged harshly if Maps didn’t live up to an Apple standard of quality and that it would be compared unfavorably with Google Maps. While my personal experience of Apple Maps has been generally positive, people around the world are obviously finding lots of errors and problems.

Apple provided a statement to us, very similar (but not identical) to the one it issued to AllThingsD earlier today:

“Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service. We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover, turn-by-turn navigation, and Siri integration. We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We’re also working with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps in the app store into iOS 6 Maps. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.”

The UK-based Guardian has speculated (like us), based on unnamed sources, that a Google Maps app is in the works and may have already been submitted for Apple’s approval. We’ve asked Google for confirmation of this but have not received a response.

Would Apple Block a New Google Maps App?

If a new Google Maps app is being readied for submission or in the queue for approval and Apple blocks it there would almost certainly be a second wave of negative publicity. But what grounds might Apple have for blocking a Google Maps app?

Several years ago Apple initially blocked a Google Voice app because “it appear[ed] to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience” and duplicate or supplant “core functionality” of the device. Might a similar argument be made to block a Google Maps app?

It would be much more difficult to do so because the iTunes App Store already features numerous maps and navigation apps, as well as apps that provide local business information. Thus it would be hard to see a move to block a Google Maps app as anything other than singling out a rival.

Google would be foolish to not submit a new Maps app to Apple. And Apple would be politically unwise to try and block it. Hopefully Google will submit (if it hasn’t already) a new Maps app and, hopefully, Apple will allow it.

That would provide consumers with a better set of options and hopefully further motivate Apple to improve the quality of its “places data” and fix the other glitches right now being cataloged by tech bloggers everywhere. Regardless, Apple is clearly motivated to fix these problems. And the cloud-based nature of the product means that at least some of these issues can be remedied behind the scenes and won’t require a full-blown software update.

Apple has indicated that it’s trying to address the problems that have been identified. We can probably expect that it will do so fast as it can. There’s too much at stake for the company to not work “around the clock” on this.

Postscript: While there’s discussion and debate, there are a number of sources now reporting that Google has not yet submitted a native Maps app for approval to Apple.

Related Topics: Apple: Maps | Channel: Mobile | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Mobile | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://www.proservicesks.com Frank Woodman Jr

    Apple is as always not truly about users it’s about money. And rather than allow the much better Google maps to be available to it’s users it will try to force, for it’s own benefit, it’s users to settle for what is obviously an inferior beta maps program.

    As one who had seen the Apple “maps” in action I was very disappointed and decided that until I could know that Google maps would be available I would wait to get the Apple iPhone 5.

    So while my single purchase won’t affect Apples decision the uproar shows that I’m certainly not alone in my disappointment. Now only time will tell if Apple gives it’s users choice or if they dictate to them. That decision will be the deciding factor on my next phone purchase.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.mifsud2 Tony Mifsud

    Have tried apple maps on iPhone4S and VERY blurry when you zoom in. how do I get my Goole maps back?

  • cooldoods

    “we are just getting started with it” = “yes, it’s beta”

  • http://www.facebook.com/the.nathaniel.bailey Nathaniel Bailey

    Boom! And this is a perfect example of why I have stuck with my Android phones, Apple has always been about making money and that’s all they give a damn about, their clients have never seemed to matter IMO because this isn’t the first – and I’m sure it wont be the last – time that Apple has done this sort of thing!

    Just look at the ipad, they point blank refused to allow flash, which I believe was mainly so people couldn’t use other companies services such as youtube (owned by google) and now Apple remove google maps!

    Something tells me google are going to have to fight if they want a chance of getting a google maps app on the iphone!?

  • http://twitter.com/dmazelier David Mazelier

    Marketshares? Advertising? Of course they will build a new Google Map app. Do you really think Google can let the iOS users going away?

  • Chris B

    Google DID NOT AUTHOR THE IOS MAPS APP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kumar.rajjesh Kumar Rajesh

    Apple should start using Nokia Maps

  • ESPInfo

    I agree with this. While it is possible that they will add it (and perhaps even likely), it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t. If Apple maps suck and continue to do so, people may be willing to buy a Droid phone just to get the much better integrated Google Maps product.

  • http://twitter.com/Mavelor2 Anthony Smith

    This is not Google’s problem. This is Apple’s problem.

  • http://www.webstatsart.com/ Webstats Art

    We are not having any problems at all with Apple Maps. In fact they work faster than Google maps and iOS 6 is awesome. Apple’s share price is also going through the roof again, so investors can rejoice!

  • http://twitter.com/GrAndroid Grand Droid

    The most popular way right now is to use the Google Maps HTML5 app by going to maps.google.com on phone. I heard there is no way to get the native google based maps app back short of downgrading OS (jailbreaking might be a prerequisite).

  • http://profiles.google.com/terrell.gibbs Terrell Gibbs

    I’ve gotten occasional bizarre routing suggestions on occasion from every GPS I’ve ever tried, including Google Maps. A huge number of people just started using Apple’s Maps application, so it’s not clear yet if these reports indicate a higher frequency of errors that with other GPS devices and apps. I’d like to see somebody do a statistical survey of routing to a bunch of randomly chosen destinations on Apple Maps and some competing applications and devices. I do miss the transit routing, but there are already multiple 3rd party apps stepping into this gap.

  • cjvannette

    It’s kind of astounding how badly handled this was. Even without the glaring errors (which, as others have pointed out, are common in maps & navigation apps), it’s simply not as good as Google Maps. Don’t replace a good product with an inferior one.

  • Relentlessfocus

    Just to add to that, use the arrow on the bottom of the Safari screen and choose save to home screen. Do it for Nokia maps too. Now you have it better than ever.

  • http://blog.clayburngriffin.com/ Clayburn Griffin

    I don’t understand the appeal of Apple products.

  • http://cczy.livejournal.com/ cczy

    My personal opinion (and my friends said the same), that Google Maps is more convenient application. Think, nothing bad will happened with Google.

  • http://twitter.com/quigger Jason Hughes

    It’s not just the quality of the maps and the location information amiss. Without Google Maps on ios6 – there is no Streetview (you can download a third party app though). Secondly, I’ve tried to update information on iMaps, like wrong pin locations, but within iMaps feedback/report options I can’t move the pin to the correct location, it just moves the whole map view. Additionally YouTube has been removed in the upgrade. :-(

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimwang Jim Wang

    Say what you will about Steve Jobs and his draconian leadership style but if he were alive this probably wouldn’t have happened.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647267786 Santos Jaimes

    Apple sucks big time! The way I see it 2013 will be its last year of success as Samsung and Android are already getting better products to the market. Apple sold 2 million new iPhone 5 the first day? So what! Android has been selling 1.8 units daily for months, and that is why Apple is so scared of Android’s market share getting bigger and bigger, and prefer to sue Samsung to squeeze a bit more money for them while they can.

    Did you know that Foxconn (Apple supplier) pays its employees less than $400.00 a month while in the USA the Federal wage level is currently USD 7.25. That hourly wage times 8 hours per day, times 5 days per week, times 4 weeks per month is USD 1160.00. Now, do you think Apple would make so much money if they had to pay minimum wage salaries at the USA level? Would yo work for $400 per month?

    Minimum wages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._minimum_wages
    Foxconn pay: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/technology/foxconn-to-raise-salaries-for-workers-by-up-to-25.html?_r=0

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