Explaining the Apple Maps debacle
Confused about the uproar over Apple Maps? Allow us to explain it so even mom will understand
At this point many of us are familiar with the debacle that is Apple Maps. Of course, though, not everyone has been following this story as intently as those of us with far too much free time. As a service to those people who are either (a) recently freed from being trapped under an avalanche of milk bottle caps that they’ve been collecting and hoarding for years or (b) my mother and who would like to be able to intelligently discuss the situation at upcoming Columbus Day parties, I’ve assembled a helpful Q&A to explain the situation.
What are Apple Maps?
A mapping app that Apple added to their latest version of their mobile operating system, iOS 6.
What type of features does it offer?
Well, duh, maps, but also satellite pictures, turn-by-turn directions and live traffic reports.
Traffic reports - sweet! Does it also play Freebird and give away concert tickets?
No, it’s a mapping tool, not a radio station.
What Apple devices does it work on?
Anything that runs iOS 6, like iPhone 3GS and later, iPad 2 and later, and iPod Touch 4th Generation.
Does that mean my my cell phone has Apple Maps?
No, mom, you have a Jitterbug.
Wait - iOS 6 only came out last week, so not too many people can be using it yet, right?
Only if you consider 100 million people to be not too many.
Apple Maps sound delightful. What’s all the hubbub about then?
Apple Maps replaced the Google Maps app that used to be on all previous iOS devices. Apple Maps are, to put it mildly, not as good as Google Maps.
When you say “not as good” what do you mean?
Well, Apple’s version of Maps seems to contain lots of errors and mistakes. For example, images of landmarks don’t look quite right, some buildings are clearly marked as being in the wrong place, and it’s sometimes giving incorrect - and even unsafe - directions.
Are Apple Maps the reason why you never come to visit me anymore?
No. Mom, please, I’ve been busy.
If Google Maps were so much better, why would Apple replace Google Maps in the first place?
Because Apple and Google don’t get along anymore.
Why? Did they have a fight or something?
Sort of. They used to get along better, until Google got into the mobile device business, by developing its Android mobile operating system and licensing it to phone and tablet manufacturers.
Android - like those robots from Star Wars?
Um, no. C3PO and R2D2 were droids (fictional, to boot) and they are no relation to the Android operating system.
So, Apple got mad at Google for competing with Apple?
What, nobody but Apple is allowed to make cell phones or mobile operating systems?
You’d have to ask Apple that; we’re staying out of it.
Apple seems kind of bitchy.
Again, no comment.
Why are Google Maps so much better than Apple Maps?
For one thing, Google’s been developing their mapping application for years and, reportedly has 7,000 people working on it.
Why did Apple think they could create something just as good in much less time?
Apple is kind of like that.
Is Apple aware of these problems?
Yes, and they’ve asked people to have patience.
What’re they doing to fix Maps?
They’re hiring former Google Maps developers to fix Apple Maps.
That’s clever of Apple!
What if I’m using iOS 6 but I really don’t want to use Apple Maps?
Don’t leave your house.
Very funny. Seriously, what are my options?
You can still use Google Maps through the browser - or jailbreak your phone and install a hacked port of the Google Maps app to iOS 6.
Can I go to jail for jailbreaking?
Good, because I’ve seen Oz.
Any other questions?
Are those my only options?
No. If you’re still running iOS 5, you can just choose not to upgrade. Or you can switch to an Android phone and be back in the land of Google. Or you can switch to a BlackBerry.
I hope this helps! Feel free to print this out and keep it in your wallet for future reference.