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Apple leaves users lost and disoriented with Maps

Apple leaves users lost and disoriented with Maps (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor) Apple leaves users lost and disoriented with Maps (credit: Josh Smith/Forum Editor)

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter to customers, apologizing for the new Maps application in iOS 6 — and rightfully so. The “upgrade” to iOS 6 came with redeeming applications like Passbook, which organizes tickets, gift cards, and other payment options, as well as the new features like the photo sharing ability for iCloud. However, the release of this new operating system is marred by the Maps application that launched with it.

Current problems with Maps include misplaced, misnamed, and oversized locations, such as a nature park in Portland that appears to cover most of the city’s east side; lack of named infrastructure landmarks, including many bridges; and, worst of all for this country’s youth, the removed ability to search for public transit routes. Americans took 10.2 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, according to publictransportation.org, and public transportation usage is steadily increasing.

Apple left out a resource in its Maps application that is vitally important to the population. In Pittsburgh especially, the bus system can be capricious, and it’s comforting to have a method for easily checking bus routes at one’s fingertips.

Ideally, Apple would have kept its old standard of using Google Maps as its default maps app. But since Apple has been weaning itself off Google’s support over the past few years, the company clearly wanted to create an application independent of any third party that could meet or exceed the quality of its past, Google-affiliated Maps application.

Apple’s intermediate fix for this comes in the form of recommendations for third-party public transportation apps, such as Embark and Transit, and established web-based services like MapQuest.

For the biggest name in consumer electronics, which prides itself in innovation and staying ahead of the curve, this is dramatically out of character. If Apple had taken just a bit longer to troubleshoot Maps before making it public, it could have saved itself a lot of consumer headache. Hopefully the company will receive enough complaints that it will prioritize fixing the glaring errors with its app — or perhaps we’d be better off with Google Maps remaining the dominant navigation application.