New Apple maps app under fire from users


Rory Cellan-Jones compares Apple's new map app with Google maps

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Inaccuracies and misplaced towns and cities in Apple's new map software have provoked anger from users.

In June Apple announced it would stop using Google Maps in favour of its own system, created using data from navigation firm TomTom and others.

Apple is yet to comment on the complaints about the software, which comes already installed on the new iPhone.

TomTom said it provided only data and was not responsible for how it worked.

The software is packaged with iOS6, the latest version of Apple's operating system, which runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Previously, the system had an app running mapping software from Google.

But users are now forced to use Apple's new maps once they upgrade or buy the latest iPhone - which goes on sale on Friday.

There is not currently a Google Maps app available in Apple's App Store, although Google's system is still accessible via the phone's web browser.

Museum in river

Among the user complaints regarding Apple's maps sent to the BBC were:

Screenshots of satellite coverage in Dingwall Users have complained about the quality of satellite images in the new software (bottom)
  • Some towns appear to be missing, such as Stratford-upon-Avon and Solihull.
  • Others, like Uckfield in East Sussex, are in the wrong location.
  • Satellite images of various locations, particularly in Scotland, are obscured by cloud.
  • A search for Manchester United Football Club directs users to Sale United Football Club, a community team for ages five and above.
  • Users also reported missing local places, such as schools, or strange locations. Another screenshot showed a furniture museum that was apparently located in a river.

The Twitter account which posted the screenshot, @fake_iOS6maps, has since been suspended.

TomTom, which also licenses data to a range of other mobile manufacturers, defended its involvement.

A spokesman told the BBC that its maps provided only a "foundation" to the service.

"The user experience is determined by adding additional features to the map application such as visual imagery," a spokesman said.

"User experience fully depends on the choices these manufacturers make.

"We are confident about our map quality, as selling 65 million portable navigation devices across the world and more than 1.4m TomTom apps for iPhone in the past two years reaffirms this quality."

Prior to the release of iOS6, several developers had expressed concerns over the capability of the mapping app, in particular its ability to find businesses via search.

Spot the difference

"This is incredibly different from using Google Maps," one Denver-based blogger wrote on 13 September.

"It's a tremendous step backwards and something that cripples iOS for Apple's customers.

"I [searched] 'iPhone Repair' and 'iPad Repair' since that's relevant to our business. The results broke my heart.

"All of the work I've put into our local recognition is completely gone."


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  • Comment number 144.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    @129. Consumers pay through the nose for these products. Why should the world's biggest and hugely cash rich company test its products properly first??

    Oh and an answer to your question to kick off with: Phillips CD player; or DVD player; the Sony Walkman. Over to others....

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    I was considering the iPhone 5 as my upgrade and stepping away from Android, but the lack of real standout features on the 5 coupled with the lack of a free to use reliable map and navigation software has really put me off. I think I'll stick to Android as loss of that functionality is a show stopper for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    109 rug568

    You missed the bit of the article that says there is no Google maps app in the app store then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    to 43.Flackster

    Regardles of the iPhone 5's issues, people will still buy it! Hence Apple will not be too concerned

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    This is what happens when you are reliant on closed, corporate product systems.

    Perhaps this will spur a move towards free software, that is free not only of up-front cost, but also free from usage restrictions, such as those products supported by the GNU movement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Apple really doesn't care if their maps are better than Google's. Apple are perfectly happy with their map app because it means that Google will get no money from them. They are not in the map business, they're in the phone business and we've all got enough evidence to show that people will buy the iPhone regardless of whether the maps are crap, the signal is poor or whether it breaks easily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Apple's persistence to own every aspect of their devices and their functionality will continue to leave them behind.

    Does the new iPhone now let you use 3rd party keyboard software? How about ctrl+a, ctrl+v, etc, shortcuts on the software keyboard? How about if you want to emulate Dos(Dos Box), Linux, Windows or other OS(w/ Qemu or Bochs) on a phone? A specialized keyboard can be very desirable

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    38. SpandexUK

    "Anyone who has an ounce of technical savvy expects this to be a product in development"

    If it is in development then why has it been released?

    I own an I phone 4s, a macbook and an ipod and while I agree that these are all excellent products I I'm also now starting to dislike apple's selfish, greedy approach to the market.

    Won't be getting an iphone5

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    @MissionMan, 100: I've never had a problem with Google Navigation. Generally far better than TomTom, in my experience. The only downside is you need a data connection if you deviate far from your route.

    Are you sure you're not just using it wrongly?

    p.s. Mods - why do I have to wait TEN MINUTES between posts????

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    They make £400+ profit on each phone yet still can't be bothered to make the phones in the west,we're on our knees and they don't want to give bk when we need these jobs. I dumped apple now, I'm all for profit but what they make is disgusting while not providing us wih the jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    While I'm no fan of Apple's way of doing business I am sure that they will continue to refine their mapping app and data over time. Their software has clearly learned much from google maps and is quite mature for a first release.

    Of course if apple had made the mapping app first and google were releasing this it would be lawsuit time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Apple has such a strong brand and following that the majority of their users will still buy an iPhone 5 even with degraded services.

    The iPhone 4 couldn't even make phone calls without cutting out and Apple's religious followers still flocked to buy that.

    Good luck with replacing all you apple docks and cables.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Very misleading with the spot the difference! Try typing in Sunderland St Tickhill in Apple Maps as has been done with the Google maps example, and the Apple map will not be as what is on the spot the difference! Clearly the difference being that the same search has not been carried out on both systems. Plain wrong and unjustified and a deliberate attempt to mislead, come on BBC you can do better!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    who cares if it doesnt work. At least the iphone looks cool, and that is all that matters. We are Appleians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    As with apps and new hardware, those who jump in first are the guineapigs for R+D to test their products. As with all of the big technology companies, new products need to settle in. Name me one of these companies who have released a perfect product from the start.I suppose this story is proof that the British press always love to try and bring down a success story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Man there's a lot of stupid people in the world. A lot of them are in sleeping bags right now...

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Heh, Kinda a shame that Google don't block Google maps on IPhones, I mean, I expected the Iphone5 to at least be competitive, but its features list is below a lot of phones from last year, let alone this year, its locked into a load of junk you don't want AND to top it off, costs more than the rest.... I can't understand why anyone would use this....

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    There's an adage in IT circles which goes like this, 'don't apply the x.0 release, wait until x.1 or x.1.1.'
    Wait 12 months, then upgrade to the iPhone 5.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Love it! When iOS6 was announced TomTom were all over their 'partnership' with Apple. Seems like they are pretty keen to distance themselves from this disaster now.


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