POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Brief review of my experience with Apple Maps


Recently, along with millions of other iOS users, I updated the software on my iPhone to version 6 of Apple's mobile operating system software. One of the most touted, and now controversial features, is Apple's own foray into the mobile mapping arena. I must admit that I was looking forward to this, because Google maps on iOS had become quite boring in terms of user interface and lack of turn by turn directions. I must say that I am quite ambivalent about Apple's new mapping solution.

By now many of you have seen quite the hubbub in the trade press regarding Apple maps.  You may even seen the tumblr making some fun about it (note, many of these have already been fixed by Apple). Funky looking bridges, places labeled incorrectly and detail many expect from a Google map simply missing from the Apple map. I wanted to offer a brief review of the product as I have had occasion to use it quite frequently as of late. But first a few quick disclosures.  One, I am using maps on iOS six on a lowly iPhone 4 (no S). As such, I do not have the voice navigated turn by turn feature. My upgrade with Verizon in November should fix this problem. :-) Two, I am not an Apple fanboy. I would probably still be using webOS if I could and I don't own a single Mac. Well, maybe I do like iOS a bit for our fam...but I abhor MacIdolatry. OK, now that we have discussed religion, let us get on to the Maps.

Last week I drove from North Jersey down to South Jersey, over to Philadelphia and back again. I needed to use maps to obtain driving directions to and from various locations out of my normal backyard. I must say that Apple maps performed flawlessly in this effort. The next day I went to New York City to visit a couple of friends and decided to use Apple maps on the ground as a pedestrian and public transit user in the Big Apple. Major fail. Apples New York City maps were detailed enough and I could tell where I was on the street. However the glaring omission of public transit directions had me texting and calling your friend to find out which subway train to take to the upper Eastside from Penn station. For those who want to know the answer is: walk a few blocks east and take the six train north to 77th. Apple, having no public transit directions in it's new mapping product, was no help to me. On Sunday afternoon, the family jumped in our ride after church to head About 45 minutes east to a township for travel soccer game. Once again, Apple's mapping product performed flawlessly and navigating us through the spaghetti mess of tightly packed New Jersey townships. I was even able to find a good pizza place due to the Yelp integration. 

Overall I have found Apple maps to be visually pleasing, have a wonderful user interface far superior to the old iOS Google maps, doing quite well with driving directions on major roads and finding just about any address I need. However, in Manhattan, I found them almost unusable when needing to find schedules and directions via train.  Thankfully they are great iOS apps for New Jersey transit that helps me get home on time.

I have found that the Apple maps interface is very well implemented. The thumb swiping from one turn directions or the other has been a great in addition to the old click the arrows on  iOS Google maps product. Furthermore, the map follows you via GPS and adjusts the driving turn directions In real time as the map adjusts with your location. Much improved. 

Apple's new maps UI - love the large great thumb targets

The main, and huge advantage, I see in Google maps is it's huge amount of granular data that lives on its maps. Having building built up over years of experience and user input Google maps has just about everything on it. Even the Jacobs Well offices. Whether or not Apple can improve its underlying mapping data, points of interests and detailed mapping of outlying locations…only time will tell. 

I think if we can learn anything from the roll out of Apple maps it is this: "mapping is hard work and takes a huge investment of time and money." With the popularity of iOS Apple has time. With their huge treasure chest of cash it seems the company is positioned with the loot to invest in their mapping solution. I think everyone knows they better stay hard at work. For my use with simple driving directions Apple Maps seems to be excellent. It contains all the information in our area for me to get around and to trust the directions. I think most people won't be too disappointed with it.  If you are hoping to use it to search for local businesses and need public transit directions, I will say some disappointment is coming.

The big question going around is whether Google has its own new spiffy iOS Maps product in the pipeline. Some seem to think its imminent, while others reporting it may be a ways off. My guess is that they do have something coming. If they get it out soon I think they can be well assured that they would gain back many iOS users. If they wait too long I believe Apple will improve and Google may miss a huge window of opportunity.

Apple...saving cool people of the world...one "i" at a time

This, my friends is a graphic that went up today on Gizmodo. Just one more reason why I abstain from the Apple religion.  Do you and your friends all have the same exact laptop and same exact phone. If you do, it is strange…and people should not make images of Steve Jobs that look like this.

It is indicative of the modern condition that the only savior we might muster is a man in black turtlenecks, holding a gadget. I’ll say it again, little children, keep yourselves from iDolatry.

[Disclosure: For those of you who take things too seriously - this post is categorized under “just for fun” - I am joking…it is satire. We like the Mac/PC religious discussion here at the POCBlog, so don’t take this too seriously…somebody already did, so hence this disclosure. By the way, this was sent to me by a Mac friend with a note that read “as if you needed any more ammunition…this was just too good not to send…blessings…” You have to admit though…this picture…Ok, I’ll stop]

The Gathering/Convergence/New Age is near

In a few hours, Mapple fans throughout the universe will unite publicly at the pilgrimage known as WWDC.  At 10am PST, those in the temple will hush into a silence and Mapple computer screens (and some PC screens - gasp!) will tune in to see what the priests have to give.  Cheaper iPhones, more flash memory, 3.0 software (that will underwhelm Pre owners) and leopards that dash about in the snow! Will Steve step out from the shadows…oh, if Steve steps out on the balcony to wave we know the spirit of the age of Aquarius might be born anew. Gizmodo and Engadget will be blogging…many will stream video.

The true believers will party, begin to smugly mock RIM and PALM and WINDOWS and generally feel good about the world again.  After all, the webOS is better than current iPhone offerings - and this is just an unbearable, impossible situation that the high priests of “i” will certainly rectify today. Right?

Many infallible proofs...

More evidence has emerged that shows that those who use Macintoshes are religious devotees.  There is a show dedicated to those who have "born again" - delivered from PC Hell into Mac Heaven.  Again, I love the Mac and Apple products, but since I still confess Jesus as Lord and God I must...with conviction...call to my brothers to resist idolatry.  Worshiping a good thing as an ultimate thing is not good for the soul - MacIdolatry must be added to all "cult watch" ministries as many are becoming born again.  Which everyone knows is a term for "holy roller weird." 

To all those moderate, mainline Mac users - who owned Mac classics, talk to your brothers about moderation.  It is a good thing. 

MacIdolaters line up to see their high priest...

The high priest of the Mac cult will soon be speaking to his enclave of followers.  The prophet will bear news about the wonders that the stainless steal, graven apple image will soon bring to worshipers worldwide.  Engadget has a great picture of the pilgrims awaiting the arrival of El Jobso to their temple.

According to Engadget, these five devotees showed up at noon yesterday for this mornings Keynote address at MacWorld Expo.  Some call them zealots, I remain convinced that what we are seeing is most properly called MacIdolatry.  As the brother John once said long ago, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.