Sep 20th, 2012

Apple made a controversial decision when they decided to ditch Google Maps in iOS 6 entirely in favor of their own mapping and navigation service. When it comes to software, I think it’d be safe to say this has been one area Apple has always excelled in. You may have heard some of the hype surrounding Apple’s new 3D mapping invention technology, giving users the ability to fly around a map like Peter Pan, soaring around photo-realistic 3D structures and gazing into young women’s bedrooms.

Google Maps has long been Google’s feather in the hat, a crowning achievement of modern technology in the digital age. But can Google Maps even hold a candle to the “magic” of Apple’s 3D rendered maps? Let’s take a quick look at some famous landmarks when viewed through the eyes of Apple’s new 3D maps, and compare ’em to Google’s tried and true Street View. Maybe you can tell me which you think looks best.

Would make a really cool sequel to Fallout, not really functional in real world usage though…

Looks like this 3D modeling stuff is nothing more than a gimmick. A ruse. A pretty box that inside, is empty. The most unfortunate part about all this is that when Apple goes to war, sometimes it’s their own users that get caught with the short end of the stick. The perfect example of Apple cutting off their nose to spite their face. 3D maps isn’t even the half of it. A Michael Degusta said it best in a blog post when he pointed out all the features iOS users would be losing upon updating to iOS 6:

“On the plus side, at least people are getting turn-by-turn directions and Apple’s Flyover feature in exchange, right? Not so fast: 20 countries (population: 3.2 billion) are losing transit, traffic, or street view and getting neither turn-by-turn nor Flyover. The biggest losers are Brazil, India, Taiwan, and Thailand (population: 1.5 billion) which overnight will go from being countries with every maps feature (transit, traffic, and street view) to countries with none of those features, nor any of the new features either.

It gets worse. Even in countries where turn-by-turn and/or Flyover are available, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and the 4th generation iPod touch won’t support them. These devices are owned by tens of millions of users who may update over-the-air when prompted, only to find they’ve lost features and haven’t even gained any of the marquee Maps features in return.”

So why have I dedicated an entire post to Apple’s maps on an Android blog? With the iPhone 5 hitting new sales records its first weekend, you’d be fooling yourself to think that Apple hasn’t wooed more than a few Android users with promises of security and their “fancy” apps. Just when it comes to maps and navigation — arguably the biggest weapon in the smartphone war — Google Maps still finds itself unmatched. To put it bluntly, Apple’s maps app sucks. Big time. Hey iPhone users, I see you got some pretty 3D maps and I’m happy for you, I really am. But maybe it’s time to switch to an OS from a company that doesn’t tell you what they think is best for you. Just a thought.

[Via Gizmodo | Additional reading: The New York Times]

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