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Meanwhile Apple is reportedly trying desperately to woo Google Maps engineers

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) made a bold gamble deciding to kick Google Inc.'s (GOOG) highly functional Google Maps app off its i-devices with iOS 6, in lieu of its own homegrown alternative.  The move was perhaps foreshadowed by Apple's long-standing refusal to allow Google Maps the hardware API access necessary to do turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone.

I. Apple Maps Woes Mar iPhone 5 Experience

Early builds of the iOS 6 Apple Maps were full of flaws.  And while principle partner TomTom N.V. (AMS:TOM2) -- who Apple gets most of its mapping database from -- promised to help fix the flaws, it looks like the version that launched with Apple iPhone 5 is still mediocre at best and a nightmarish mess at worst.  

Cities were misplaced or worse yet wound up in the ocean. Requests for directions in major cities (e.g. New York City) were met with cryptic addresses.  To sum up the prevailing sentiment InfoWorld mobile analyst Galen Gruman writes, "For the short term, I recommend you not use Apple Maps."

Apple iOS 6 Maps
Apple Maps have some issues. [Image Source: Apple]

II. Scorned Google Chimes In

Google, whose Android operating system Apple has called a "copycat" and whose partners have been sued for not "innovating" enough, was quick to pounce on these reports.

The official Google+ account of Google's phonemaking subsidiary Motorola Mobility posted a picture mocking Apple Maps as "iLost" and plugging Android's alternative:

iLost
[Image Source: Google+/Motorola Mobility]

The situation isn't looking pretty for Apple Maps.  True, Apple owners can rest easy in knowing that Tim Cook and company (partially) drove the big bad Google off their prized i-Devices, but it is appearing a very Pyrrhic victory.  

III.  Apple is Recruiting ex-Google Maps Devs

According to TechCrunch, the dire situation has prompted Apple to begin trying to poach Google Maps engineers.  The report quotes a source as saying:

Many of my coworkers at Google Maps eventually left when their contracts ended or on their own accord. One guy looked around for other GIS work and ended up at Apple when a recruiter contacted him. He had heard rumors for a while that Apple was going to develop its own in-house mapping platform, and given his experience at Google, he was an easy hire. Apple went out of their way to bring him down to Cupertino and he’s now paid handsomly as a GIS Analyst. Another coworker that was a project lead at Google Maps, left for the East Coast after his contract ended, and was recently contacted by an Apple recruiter. The position sounds like a product development manager position, and will pay him $85k+ and all the moving expenses from the East Coast. He’s gone through 2 rounds of interview and seems like a frontrunner to land that position.

Still, even as Apple moves a bit closer to keeping up with the Androids in terms of screen size and cellular modem technology, it's fallen farther behind on the Maps front -- a critical piece of functionality to today's Swiss Army Knife-esque smartphones.  


George Takei/Facebook

One has to wonder whether the Maps mess will take a bit of the luster off the otherwise polished product.  Early sales, however, have been unaffected as Apple's faithful fans helped it move 5 million units over the launch weekend.

Sources: Google+ [Motorola], TechCrunch, InfoWorld, CNN



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RE: Mixed bag
By Souka on 9/24/2012 1:48:33 PM , Rating: 4
I have an iPhone4 on iOS 6

The new maps suck for me in the Seattle area... and no voice turn by turn because my phone isn't a 4s

However.. I do you Waze with good results, along with speaking turn-by-turn directions.

One thing I did notice with Waze that if I didn't take a certain route a few times it stopped suggesting it. The Apple map product keeps wanting me to take a completely screwed up route home... lame.

I also appreciate the ETA that Waze gives and shows the comparisons all at once. AppleMaps just gives a map with "route 1" "route 2" etc...


RE: Mixed bag
By geddarkstorm on 9/24/2012 2:08:13 PM , Rating: 2
I've never heard of this Wave thing, but I like the sound of it; especially its ability to learn your preferred routes. That's something I'd love to see more map programs incorporate.


RE: Mixed bag
By Solandri on 9/25/2012 3:34:53 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting. What is it about the iPhone 4 which prevents it from doing turn by turn navigation? My flip phone from 2004 could do that. It seems like the 4 could handle it easily.


RE: Mixed bag
By Fritzr on 9/25/2012 5:20:48 AM , Rating: 3
The critical factor is an Apple engineering decision. A lesser reason is likely to be the marketing. A user who wants the missing feature(s) is required to buy a newer device to take advantage.

Most of the obsolete Apple devices have missing features in iOS 6 assuming they are even supported. (iOS 5.1.1 is the end of the line for the iPod 3G for example)

Android shares this fault. A device that does not have the available RAM/storage/CPU power to work with the feature will not include the feature.

On the other hand there is an Android hacker community dedicated to bringing these features to older phones that the official developers have passed over for a variety of reasons. This is something that Apple does not want even though there is an active hacker community working with rooted iOS.


RE: Mixed bag
By B3an on 9/25/2012 1:17:00 PM , Rating: 3
Oh come on, its very obviously a marketing decision to not have turn by turn on the iPhone 4. Same with most of the other missing features. It's more than capable of handling turn by turn which even extremely old sat nav devices can do with nowhere near the same level of hardware.


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