Apple, Google maps scorecard: Who wins, who loses?
(CBS News) Apple released its newest mobile operating system Wednesday, iOS 6. While critics are praising many of its many new features, the Apple Maps app has been the target of much ridicule.
Users who have updated to iOS 6 have complained of getting lost, missing landmarks and lack of public transit directions. Reaction to Apple maps have ranged from cheeky tweets to the London Underground suggesting iOS 6 users pick up physical maps. Then there's the Tumblr blog, The Amazing iOS 6 Maps, which posts screen shots of Apple Map fumbles.
Meanwhile, Google maps got an update on the Android mobile operating system Wednesday. The timing of the update couldn't be more noteworthy. It's not hard to imagine that the move was a jab at Apple.
In Apple's defense, they've only just started. Mapping the world is a daunting task. Google has been at it since 2007 and has the benefit of years of mistakes, successes and even lawsuits. Google has amassed years of data. Apple acknowledges it must play catch up and released this statement to AllThingsD:
"We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover and Siri integration, and free turn by turn navigation. We launched this new map service knowing that it is a major initiative and we are just getting started with it. We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, 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 Maps. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better."
Critics are quick to point out, however, that Apple's choice to drop Google Maps may have been a premature move to edge out the competition. Google launched its mobile operating system Android in 2008. Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs famously said to his biographer, "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
Apple and Google also split ways with the YouTube app. Apple announced in August that YouTube would no longer be a default app on iOS 6, but a replacement app built by YouTube engineers was launched ahead of the iPhone 5's release.
It's been rumored that a Google Maps app has been submitted to the app store and is waiting for Apple's approval. Citing "roundabout sources," The Guardian reports that a Google Maps app will appear in time, but there is no official timeline. Neither Apple nor Google responded to CBS News' request for comment on a pending Google Maps app.
In an interview with Business Insider, mapping service Waze's chief executive officer Naom Bardin posits that Apple saw its relationship with Google as a disadvantage and rolled the dice on its own product.
"Their bet is that they can, within two years, build a product that will compete with Google's ten years of experience in both search and maps, and navigation, and all of these different things together," Bardin said.
One could argue that these decisions all come down to Apple and Google's bottom line, but there is a sense that the battle to be competitive may come at the cost of user experience. After five years of Google Maps on iPhones, iOS users have lost a service they've come to rely on. Apple Maps does have features that are great and innovative, but it just doesn't have the years of experience and data that Google has - yet.
The entire debate over who wins and who loses could be summarized by Slate's Matthew Yglesias, who writes: "The mobile maps blow-up seems like pure lose-lose."
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