The iPhone’s New Maps App Is Atrocious

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 20 2012 5:34 PM

The iPhone’s New, Half-Baked Maps App Is Atrocious

Apple's new iOS6 Maps App shows an airport in Dublin where there is none.

When Apple updated its mobile operating system yesterday, iPhone, iPod, and iPad users found a brand-new maps app. The new iOS6 offering loads more quickly than the Google Maps-powered version it replaced. It includes turn-by-turn navigation. And it’s terrible—at least, for many users.

The new app no longer offers directions via public transit, which was perhaps the most useful feature for urbanites. Type in an address, and your phone would guide you: Take the X bus to the Y train to the Z stop. No squinting at bus schedules in the dark. No need to stitch together a bunch of subpar third-party apps to do it for you. It was the golden age of getting around. Now, it’s over.


But, hey, the maps are prettier … sometimes. Apple’s maps are less cluttered than the Google ones—in certain places, at certain zoom levels. But the terrain in Apple’s maps is poorly contrasted with the streets, and the roads also seem unnecessarily narrow.

While the new app is markedly faster, it’s also less accurate and less reliable.  There’s a tumblr and a hashtag devoted entirely to documenting its problems. Businesses that have long been closed appear open. Placemarkers are off. A search for “Coney Island Brooklyn” will put the map in Manhattan. Some European towns are missing entirely or in the wrong location. Closed train stations appear open. Satellite imagery is patchy and cloudy. Parks are sometimes airports, and stadiums are sometimes parks.

The list grows as more users try out the new Maps. Any mapping service will have inaccuracies, and if millions of users are using it, some will inevitably be led astray. Still, it’s clear that Apple’s new data are not nearly so reliable as Google Maps’.

If you drive a lot, you’ll probably get along with the new Maps. The rest of us will have to use Google Maps as a Web app and wonder why Apple would release such a half-baked product.

It’s not that there aren’t alternatives—but there shouldn’t have to be. Apple products are supposed to be intuitive, elegant, and functional. If they’re not the best, they’re supposed to come pretty damn close. That’s why they’re expensive. Right?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Chris Kirk is Slate's interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.



The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer


Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.


Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.