ArtLung [Joe Crawford]

Web developer & user interface engineer
Tinkering with the web since 1996

email: joe@artlung.com · twitter: @artlung · (photo from instagram)
San Diego, California, USA


September 21st, 2012

The Failures of the iOS6 Maps Application

The hard lesson of the failures of the new iOS6 Maps Application – painfully and hilariously observed in theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com — is the subject of this post from a GIS professional: Google Maps announces a 400 year advantage over Apple Maps:

TL;DR:

Perhaps the most egregious error is that Apple’s team relied on quality control by algorithm and not a process partially vetted by informed human analysis. You cannot read about the errors in Apple Maps without realizing that these maps were being visually examined and used for the first time by Apple’s customers and not by Apple’s QC teams.

When you assemble a mapping and POI database from suppliers who operate with markedly different data models, it is unwise to assume that simple measures of homogenization will remedy the problems with disparate data. Apple’s data team seems to have munged together data from a large set of sources and assumed that somehow they would magically “fit”. Sorry, but that often does not happen in the world of cartography. Poor Apple has no one to blame but themselves.

If you go back over this blog and follow my recounting of the history of Google’s attempts at developing a quality mapping service, you will notice that they initially tried to automate the entire process and failed miserably, as has Apple. Google learned that you cannot take the human out of the equation. While the mathematics of mapping appear relatively straight forward, I can assure you that if you take the informed human observer who possesses local and cartographic knowledge out of the equation that you will produce exactly what Apple has produced–A failed system.

Selfishly, I used the “Transit Directions” function of the old Maps app quite a bit. In Los Angeles, in San Diego, and I miss it dearly. There are apps for Transit directions, but most are not very good or don’t yet cover San Diego.

I’m hopeful that Lumatic will fit the bill soon:

Or maybe Bing or Google will fill in with native apps. I have used both for transit on Mobile Safari with not great results.

Update Read the Counternotions take as well.


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