Apple reportedly knew of iOS Maps troubles well before launch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Six iOS app developers claim they warned Apple of inadequacies found in iOS Maps shortly after receiving the first pre-release version in June, giving the company months of lead time to fix the apparent problems before the app debuted in iOS 6.

Maps Location Inaccuracy


The developers, who spoke to CNET under terms of anonymity, all have active apps that rely on Apple's mapping assets to function, and said they filed bug reports, sent e-mails, and posted issues to private message boards regarding the Maps problems.

"During the beta period I filed bug reports with Apple's Radar system (notorious for being ignored), posted on the forums several times, and e-mailed multiple people within Apple's MapKit team to voice our concerns," said one developer.

Apple issued four pre-release versions of Maps before finally launching the product for public consumption in September, but the sources say not much was done to fix the glaring problems which were bemoaned by consumers and pundits alike. All six developers said a number of issues like incorrect location data, cloud-covered areas, and sparsely detailed maps were well-documented, but Apple chose to ship the app as is.

"I posted at least one doomsayer rant after each (developer) beta, and I wasn't alone," another developer said. "The mood amongst the developers seemed to be that the maps were so shockingly bad that reporting individual problems was futile. What was needed wasn't so much an interface for reporting a single point as incorrect, but for selecting an entire region and saying 'all of this -- it's wrong.'"

One developer noted he was able to contact an Apple employee, who said a particular issue was "well understood," adding that the person was filing their mapping complaints correctly. However, the developer went on to say that Apple failed to release updates to bug reports and left them largely in the dark when it came to dealing with the ongoing problems.

"This has been a frustrating experience for us and we don't care where the imagery comes from, we just would like our customers to be able to have the same experience within our app when they update from iOS 5 to iOS 6," the developer said. "Instead the OS upgrade broke some of the features we built within our application despite being told that only the imagery would be swapped out."

image


iOS Maps replaced the long-lived Google Maps-powered iOS app found on all versions of Apple's mobile operating system since the iPhone 3G, though many complained the new service lacked the detail and features seen in the defunct Maps app. Perhaps the most critical feature missing in Apple's service is Google's Street View, which allows users to view 360-degree photos of a specific location. Last week, however, Google rolled out a stripped-down version of the feature in its web app.

There are numerous conflcting theories as to why the company chose to use its own proprietary service when it still had one year left on its contract with Google Maps, from pushing the Android maker off iOS to disagreements over free turn-by-turn directions. However, it is widely agreed that iOS Maps wasn't up to the usual polish users have come to expect from an Apple product.

The Maps fiasco prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue a letter of apology to frustrated consumers, in which the executive promised the app to get better over time.

It appears that Apple is working to fix many of the glaring issues, especially those in the Google Street View alternative dubbed "Flyover," however it remains to be seen how long it will take for Maps to be on par with rival mapping services.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 142
    Hear that? It's the sound of milk in a bucket.
  • Reply 2 of 142
    I dare them to gone one hour without using the word "reportedly". I've heard it like ten times today on this site.
  • Reply 3 of 142
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    So… developers. Not Apple employees, just six guys who had iOS 6 beta 1. 


     


    And why do we care about their take on this?

  • Reply 4 of 142
    axualaxual Posts: 244member
    All software is released with bugs. Maps is no different.
  • Reply 5 of 142
    rufworkrufwork Posts: 128member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by axual View Post



    All software is released with bugs. Maps is no different.


     


    It's not if it has bugs.  It's how quickly those are fixed.  That a cloud-based service's client app still shows Columbia, SC in Columbia, South America is ludicrous.


     


    Hard code the hotspots if you have to, but fix it *now*.

  • Reply 6 of 142
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by axual View Post



    All software is released with bugs. Maps is no different.




    Some of bugs are systematic in nature and could be fixed with a few lines of code. I have seen cases where "Mahoni Road" finds the address but "Mahoni Rd" returns no result at all (that was in a major European language, ie, different actual words but exactly the same principle). That is just sloppy coding, not a question of lacking data.

  • Reply 7 of 142

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rufwork View Post


     


    It's not if it has bugs.  It's how quickly those are fixed.  That a cloud-based service's client app still shows Columbia, SC in Columbia, South America is ludicrous.


     


    Hard code the hotspots if you have to, but fix it *now*.





    All you have to do to get it to go to Columbia, South Carolina to to type in "Columbia, SC, US" or "Columbia, South Carolina".


     


    Otherwise, you may get Santiago de Cali, Colombia.  Which is interesting as I don't see why the search engine thinks that "Colombia" is a closer match than the actual word typed "Columbia"

  • Reply 8 of 142
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,363member
    First I've heard of it. There's a problem with Maps? Who are these developers?

    ;-)
  • Reply 9 of 142
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,741member


    The exception proves the rule. 


     


    Of course Apple knew. There wasn't, apparently, time to fix the issues. Apple *had* to play it up as a key feature, and on time for the iPhone 5's release.


     


    The split from Google was problematic. But they couldn't wait. It was a big risk and Apple got a ribbing for it. But they got the publicity they needed for an otherwise great product: the new iPhone. Apple played up iOS Maps early on in order to grab as much of the limelight as possible. I don't necessarily agree with this tactic, but a "Beta" tag would have been appreciated. In time, iOS Maps will be a superior product. I don't think this problem could have been avoided without having to wait another year, which Apple couldn't do . . . because doing so would mean they couldn't introduce the iPhone 5 with Maps as a so-called "killer" feature.


     


    If it was any other company doing this I'd love to see them burned at the stake. Apple can get away with this, though, because for the most part their ecosystem is truly without peer, and so they get graded on a (well-deserved) curve. We already *know* Apple will stick to their vision and make iOS Maps truly spectacular. 

  • Reply 10 of 142
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member


    Of course, Google maps is perfect.


     


    Today's error, from Australia, which is not part of the USA.


     


    I'm looking for a road that isn't there


     


     



     


    It's there in iOS 6 maps


     



     


    It's there in a search.


     



     


    There is a pin with nothing there.

  • Reply 11 of 142
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Six iOS app developers claim they warned Apple of inadequacies found in iOS Maps shortly after receiving the first pre-release version in June, giving the company months of lead time to fix the apparent problems before the app debuted in iOS 6.


    ...


    The developers, who spoke to CNET under terms of anonymity, all have active apps that rely on Apple's mapping assets to function, and said they filed bug reports, sent e-mails, and posted issues to private message boards regarding the Maps problems.



    I think that Apple (and any developer) should never, ever, ever release any product under any circumstances that has any bugs, inadequacies or omissions. In the case of the Maps app, they should have a had a single, final review of every square inch of the map, both the photos and the road/POI/turns, routing, etc.data.


    And street view? This should be mandatory on ALL mapping apps.


    I mean, how did anyone ever, find their way somewhere before it was released. Most likely, get in the general area, then like a pinball, just bounce around until they ended up at the correct place.

  • Reply 12 of 142
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rufwork View Post


     


    It's not if it has bugs.  It's how quickly those are fixed.  That a cloud-based service's client app still shows Columbia, SC in Columbia, South America is ludicrous.


     


    Hard code the hotspots if you have to, but fix it *now*.



     


    Say, what?


     


     



     


    Fix what, your ill informed post?

  • Reply 13 of 142
    vaelianvaelian Posts: 446member
    A seventh developer raises hand right here.
  • Reply 14 of 142


    Frankly I'd be far more concerned if for some reason Apple WASN'T fully aware of all the issues, wouldn't say much for their QA if that were the case.


     


    And as someone else has already mentioned, it's interesting how Apple mistakes are front page news but yet the same mistakes by others are barely worth a casual mention.  Heck, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that Google Maps finally showed my house in the correct place (vs in the middle of an intersection).  Not to mention the frustrations of having the old maps app show me Starbucks HQ in Seattle when it can't find one in the area that I was viewing in the map (doesn't matter to me if this was an Apple issue or Google issue, bottom line is that the old maps app had it's fair share of wonkiness but yet I didn't see late night tv comedians making fun of it).

  • Reply 15 of 142


    Err, he said SC not NC.  It indeed doesn't find Columbia, SC properly.  I think the current app is having issues with abbreviations, I had a issue where it couldn't find "foo dr" but it did find "foo drive".

  • Reply 16 of 142
    vaelianvaelian Posts: 446member
    axual wrote: »
    All software is released with bugs. Maps is no different.

    Only most times they aren't known to the software house. Software released with known bugs is a sign of deception.
  • Reply 17 of 142
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bitWrangler View Post


    Frankly I'd be far more concerned if for some reason Apple WASN'T fully aware of all the issues, wouldn't say much for their QA if that were the case.


     


    And as someone else has already mentioned, it's interesting how Apple mistakes are front page news but yet the same mistakes by others are barely worth a casual mention.  Heck, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that Google Maps finally showed my house in the correct place (vs in the middle of an intersection).  Not to mention the frustrations of having the old maps app show me Starbucks HQ in Seattle when it can't find one in the area that I was viewing in the map (doesn't matter to me if this was an Apple issue or Google issue, bottom line is that the old maps app had it's fair share of wonkiness but yet I didn't see late night tv comedians making fun of it).



     


    Yep, even when you post evidence in the form of screenshots, right in their faces.


     


    The whining continues.

  • Reply 18 of 142
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post





    Only most times they aren't known to the software house. Software released with known bugs is a sign of deception.


     


    So the example I gave of a Google search leading to a point on a map, where apparently there is no road, is deception.


     


    OK then, I'm used to that from Google.

  • Reply 19 of 142
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bitWrangler View Post


    Err, he said SC not NC.  It indeed doesn't find Columbia, SC properly.  I think the current app is having issues with abbreviations, I had a issue where it couldn't find "foo dr" but it did find "foo drive".



    Oh, ok


     


     


  • Reply 20 of 142
    Try it without putting in "United States." Considering I live in the US, I shouldn't have to put my country designation in there. Also, Columbia, SC is THE CAPITOL OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

    w00master
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