I’ve been reading a lot about how iOS 6 users are finding their Maps app inadequate for their needs. I have not actually tried iOS6 Maps until last week when I upgraded my old iPhone to 6.0.1. I can say that it absolutely sucks. Even the Google Maps implementation in a cheap-o Gingerbread-powered Samsung Galaxy Y that I own is worlds better in terms of speed, navigation and functionality (like offline caching and “star” syncing, to name a few).
It seems people are starting to notice and do something about it, including Apple executives. Reports have it that Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP for software and services, has edged out Richard Williamson, who has — until now — headed Apple’s Maps effort. Sources from within Apple say Cue wants to install a new leadership team for its Maps group, although it’s not immediately known who will head this effort moving forward.
After receiving much criticism for Maps in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, Apple CEO Tim Cook actually issued an apology in which he said the company was “extremely sorry for the frustration” that Maps has caused iOS users. To date, Google has not yet released its own standalone Maps application for iOS 6, even though the company has already released a YouTube app in lieu of Apple’s replacing the iOS video app with their own. Some cite Apple’s stringent approval process, although Google may likewise be deliberately delaying its own development or submission, if only to let its own Android platform maintain an advantage in this area.
Apart from Williamson, another high-profile executive also left Apple in line with the Maps fiasco a few weeks back. Scott Forstall, who has headed iOS development since the start, also left Apple, in a move that was rumored to be related to the disappointment with Maps. Forstall was reportedly unwilling to be part of the apology letter that Apple issued regarding Maps, hence his untimely departure.
Is Apple finally going to do something about their Maps app? It’s one thing to release a half-baked product and improve along the way. Both startups and big companies do this under what they consider to be “beta” applications. But Apple made the mistake of saying its Maps would be one of the best services, but then proceeded to disappoint.
Not all Apple products have been market successes, and in its current iteration, Maps will probably go down history as another Newton, Lisa or G4 Cube. Heads have rolled in Apple’s aim to fix its mistake. Will Maps emerge as a better product moving forward? Or should Apple just bite the bullet and let Google handle what they do best?