Apple criticised over new iPhone Maps app

Apple faces a barrage of criticism over omissions and errors in its new Maps app for the iPhone, which it created to replace Google Maps in the newly-released iOS6.

Developers and reviewers noticed and commented on the problems in the run up to the release of the new mobile operating system, expecting improvements, but they were not resolved in the version Apple introduced on Wednesday evening, ahead of the retail launch of the iPhone 5 on Friday.

The new Maps app often displays shops and restaurants streets away from their true location, important sites including some train stations are missing, and the search function appears unable to understand simple requests. In Britain, data on local businesses, sourced from the review website Yelp, is sometimes years out of date, and satellite images are not as sharp as Google’s. Some places, such as Colchester, were completely obscured by cloud cover.

The search function are unable to find Paddington Station and entire towns such as Solihull are not labelled. The locations of long-defunct High Street chains, including the music retailer Our Price and budget clothing store C&A, are available, however.

The Telegraph’s review of iOS6 earlier this week noted that Crofton Park train station in south east London is completely missing from the new Maps app.

Apple was accused of putting its rivalry with Google ahead of the interests of iPhone owners by effectively imposing a substandard product on them.

“Apple’s made a new product that actually is pretty but dumb,” said Anil Dash, a prominent New York technology entrepreneur.

“Worse, they’ve used their platform dominance to privilege their own app over a competitor’s offering, even though it’s a worse experience for users.”

The new iOS is compatible with all versions of the iPhone after and including the iPhone 3GS. Apple always encourages owners to download and install its latest software, which this time deletes the Google Maps app introduced on the first iPhone in 2007.

Apple announced it would replace Google Maps as the default iOS mapping app at its WWDC developer conference in June. It was the clearest sign yet of the growing hostility between the two technology giants as they battle for the booming smartphone market and clash in patent courts around the world. Apple acquired three mapping companies as it prepared to oust Google Maps.

It nevertheless turned to the Dutch satnav maker TomTom for data for its new Maps app, as well as Yelp.

TomTom sought to distance itself to distance itself from the problems, blaming them on Apple’s software rather than its data.

“User experience fully depends on the choices these manufacturers [such as Apple] make,” a spokesman said.

Developers and ordinary were frustrated by how inaccurate some of the new maps were relative to Google Maps. Dave Addey, a British app developer noticed both out misplaced and out of date information.

Anil Dash detailed his frustration with the search function, which would not locate a major offfice block in Manhattan.

“Basic search by building names is profoundly degraded in Apple’s maps search,” he said.

“Bloomberg” doesn’t find the Bloomberg Tower; on Google Maps it’s the first result. Searching for its address “731 Lexington Avenue” yields that address on Lexington Avenue in Brooklyn.

“It’s fine to think that perhaps I wanted the address in Bed-Stuy, but even appending ‘NY, NY’ or ‘Manhattan, NY’ still yields the Brooklyn address. Google maps has none of these comprehension issues.”

Other iPhone owners responded to Mr Dash’s post with their own problems using the new Maps app.

Google, whose YouTube app is also deleted in iOS6, has not said whether it will submit a Google Maps app to the Apple App Store to allow iPhone owners to install it themselves. In the meantime, frustrated users are sharing details of how to create a shortcut to the Google Maps website on their home screen.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the widespread criticism of its Maps app, which adds turn-by-turn navigation as a major new feature. Improvements could be made without an update to iOS6, as the mapping data is stored on Apple’s servers, it’s understood.

Technology industry observers suggested the misstep was the most serious made by Apple for many years. Some questioned if the Maps app would have been released in its current state under the firm’s meticulous founder Steve Jobs, who died last year. He guided Apple through a decade of huge success on the back of the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

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