State of the Apple Maps improvements

State of the Apple Maps improvements

Apple Maps launched with iOS 6, and complaints and general dissent launched precisely 1 second later. It wasn't unexpected but depending where you lived, it was painful. Apple apologized and said they'd work tirelessly to make it right. Today, Jim Dalrymple of The Loop summed up exactly where they've gotten.

The results can be seen in an update to the app this week in Japan, but Apple has been steadily releasing updates for countries and cities from around the world.

Jim has a full list of Flyover, 3D building, and turn-by-turn navigation expansion as well. It's not a binary change; it's not bad one day and great the next. It's a steady stream of updates, large and small, almost invisible as they happen but significant when they're all counted up.

Check them all out via the link below.

The Loop

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 73 comments. Add yours.

metllicamilitia says:

Wow, that is very great to hear, especially after Apple Maps beat out Google Maps in real world tests. I hope they continue to crank out these improvements to be a real major competitor of Google Maps, which I know is the goal.

Vanti says:

What real world test are you referring to? I never heard a positive report anywhere when Apple maps initially came out. (Not including people who seemed to be heavily biased)

cardfan says:

Well, granted, it's not much of a test then

metllicamilitia says:

It was still a real world test, but I would like to see it done around the world and see how it fares. It is a bit unfair to run the test in Apple's backyard.

stephen007 says:

That test was ridiculous! I do not think that can be cited as an example of Apple Maps working.

I'm actually somewhat surprised that I haven't seen more real world tests with many, many places searched for in both Google maps and Apple maps. It would be a good exercise.

Vanti says:

Yes it was a real world test but it may have been predetermined. For instance in the city of Miami where i live i often tested out Apple Maps against Google Maps and it failed terribly. It has mountains of old data such as the location of schools, points of interest, and stores which either no longer exist or have moved. I sent in my reports months ago back in 2012 and all these places still remain the same for the most part. All i would really like is a consistent experience no matter the city im in and they should at least dedicate an entire wing or group to ironing out this problem.

stephen007 says:

Apple maps never really beat out Google maps. It was ONE test, going to Apple headquarters.

CORYK333 says:

So all things considered, it did "really beat out Google maps" on that "ONE test"...make up your mind. I have no bias, just get me to where I'm going & I'm happy. I wonder if TomTom & Garmin had these fanboy battles???

kralnor says:

Totally ridiculous real world test, yes. The real world test that matters is when you try to find something you don't already know the address to. Which mapping application does a better job when you're in an unfamiliar area and you need to find the closest atm? Or need to meet a friend at a restaurant you only have the name of? Or want to find a random grocery store on the way home? I've tried to use apple maps just because its better integrated into iOS but Google maps is better hands down simply because it's better integrated into Google's massive information database.

mousebrat2006 says:

I live in Denver and I loved Apple Maps when iOS 6 was released. If anything, they were better than the google maps I had on my evo. It's nice to see they are constantly working to improve them. Apple has always been good about releasing excellent software, so I completely understood the disappointment in other cities.

spypsy says:

I can assure you that in Australia the maps are as disgraceful as ever. Primarily, rather than using suburb names to identify areas they have used local council names. Additionally, why assume I'm searching for a US address when I'm 15000KM away? American-centric BS. Then there's the Yelp/Sensis data which is next to useless in Australia. The whole experience is horrible.

CORYK333 says:

America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dev from tipb says:

Apple Maps directions are not bad in Southern California, but local search and traffic must improve *a lot* before Apple Maps becomes a decent option for my typical use cases.

Derrick4Real says:

depends where you are and what you're using it for. I've found the info suspect. search for a business and then navigate their and several times it has the wrong map address so you're taken to the wrong place. often not far off. But on several occasions i've looked up something and it's clearly not the correct building and it's really a block away. not a big deal cause i knew what the place looked like, i simply didn't remember the exact route. But if i'd never been their and was totally relying on that i'd be annoyed. Google info i find much more reliable. Apple looks pretty. that said it kills my battery.

iSRS says:

Garmin, Tom Tom, google maps, Waze - they all get you just about there. They may say you are there but it is the opposite intersection. Because the data in the supporting databases is longitude/latitude and not a physical address - more of an approximation. Every GPS or mapping app I have ever used has suffered from this. Same thing with the "drive to highlighted route" where the unit thinks I am off roading. I don't think consumer unit is pin point accurate.

rdstryr says:

"Off roading" has happened to me MANY times with Google Maps. It can be annoying at times especially when you are driving on roads that split or curve a lot and you miss a turn. It's true, every mapping service is going to have its problems. The thing with Apple maps is that everyone expected it to be perfect when that will never be the case with any service. There is always going to be something that half the people like and the other half don't. I live in Southern California and have had very little problems with Apple Maps, except for certain buildings being listed as located on the opposite side of a shopping center but still in the shopping center.

CORYK333 says:

Well said, the beauty of it all is that we have a CHOICE. Some users won't like "feature x", others will need "feature y".....use what works best for YOU.

Derrick4Real says:

no. i'm not talking about the accuracy of picking of the vehicle or the building. I mean the actual address info is wrong. if you find a business in apple maps by searching you can click on it and see the address that's on file. That's where it's listed on the map. it's not a gps issue. And if that info is the wrong address it's going to navigate to that wrong address. that's the problem. That is apple list the address as 123 main street when the real address is 123 maiden street and apple sends you to the wrong address. that's not a longitude latitude problem. It sent you to the address they have. It's just the wrong data. They need to fix that. It's not a big deal if i you already know the general area but when you don't or it's dense area or it's whole streets off it's a pain.

in many cases for apple maps it's the info is simply wrong. They have the wrong business. My Garmin standalone is rock solid though. And I don't even have the latest map update. It hasn't been wrong in years. It even tells you the correct side of the street. It knows the directions of roads so it will even make you. The problem is apple is pulling up yelp info and the yelp info is wrong. Google's pulling their own searches and business info and it's updated regularly. And users update them often with suggested changes.

Claims that other applications or products make mistakes too is not my experiences. I'm not saying it's not your experience but it sure as hell isn't mine. for me google maps info is accurate all the time. My standalone garmin info address info is rock solid.

the other biggest issue is accuracy aside, apple maps drains my battery from 100% to 5% in roughly 35 minutes making it simply not usable. I arrive with no usable phone which is simply not an option.

cardfan says:

I don't even bother searching with apple maps anymore. It's hidden in a folder with all the other junk apps.

ZkiZZoiD says:

Hands down, Apple Maps is smoother than Google Maps.. Just make Flyover available anytime, anywhere.

kralnor says:

The day I need my maps to be smooth, I'll pick apple maps over Google maps. Till then its not of much use.

richard451 says:

if only Apple spent as much time correcting the data for the maps instead of adding features.

Derrick4Real says:

this. especially features i'll never use like flyover.

metllicamilitia says:

They have, read the post again, that's a lot of ground and mapping data and coding to cover in 6 months

shinuyuki says:

I'm glad they are improving. Google Maps has a bit of a monopoly going and I fear they feel "safe" and put innovation on a back burner compared to when Google Maps first launched. After Apple kicked out Google, both companies started to truly push innovation which is great because that means more choices and better quality for the consumer. This is a great read. Thanks

kralnor says:

Trying to innovate a simple concept such as mapping, I think, is what got apple into so much trouble. They spent too much time on goofy innovations like a useless 3d flyover while all Google did is drive every square inch of several countries and took pictures. Its a mapping and navigation app.. all it needs to do is allow me to find something and then drive there.

Team George says:

Google Maps is rock solid in London and with my wife expecting our second child I wouldn't want to risk the switch when our hospital is tricky to navigate to (right in the heart of the city with lots of one way streets). Perhaps it'll be a summer project.

viinsanity says:

I agree that experiences tended to be based on where one lives. I, for one, never had issues with Apple Maps. Looking forward to see how this all plays out.

bujin says:

In CT and areas of New England I go to, Apple Maps seems great.

ZkiZZoiD says:

Apple Maps is way smoother than google's..

kralnor says:

There's a rumor that Google bought several metric tons of course to fine grind sandpaper, so this shouldn't be an issue for min longer.

riwri says:

A also live in CT and will not use IMaps. As long as it can't find my house, I cannot trust it for anything else.

samsin92 says:

Good to know Apple is working on Maps to improve the app. I'm waiting for the day roll out the full functionality for India!

W1LL1AMC says:

Apple maps was fine when iOS 6 came out. I never had a problem.

Dionte says:

I can't wait to see the improvements with ios 7.

G.4 says:

Personally, I have never had an issue with Apple maps. I live in the Southeast US and have used the app extensively for traveling and it has never given me a moment's trouble or a bad direction. Granted, I don't use any type of transit system. Still great to hear they are working on making it more accurate

reactortrip says:

I live in the Southeast USA as well and I travel constantly for my job. Apple Maps is a disgrace when it comes to POI content. Businesses being on the wrong side of the road or further down the road. Not having POIs even in it's database. POIs seriously out of date. They haven't been updating very much down here and I check often.

nyc_rock says:

Directions on Apple maps has never been an issue. Their traffic info is, on the other hand, as bad as it has always been. Adding flyover cities should be the last of their priorities.

Every time I leave work I check Google maps and I see the traffic in all the places that there is always traffic. Then switch over to Apple maps and it shows nothing.

Jaguarr40 says:

Well I suppose while I have had a few bad calls on Apple's new mapping app for the most part it has been solid from day one and even better now. I am quite happy and use it regularly. I do use Google Maps as well but always fall back to Apple. Keep up the great updating and making the app better.

vianar says:

I have never had trouble and use the map service often. I live nowhere near Apple and not very near a major centre. I have been satisfied. I read about people being lead down dirt roads with apple maps but wasn't there almost a war between Nicaragua and Costa Rica because of a Google Map error...

pr1nce says:

I've never had any issues with Apple maps. Was on Chicago last weekend and got solid directions.

dnalevelc says:

I had a chance to use apple maps yet since I have a GPS in the car, but I can't wait to test it on my next out of state trip.

kamisama14 says:

I really never had any problems with Apple Maps in my country

iRahulRana says:

I haven't really had any trouble with Apple Maps. Everyone around me are saying that it sucks, but I don't seethe problem. I don't know if it's just me being an Apple Fanboy or not seeing the problem.

djstarion says:

I have both, but I find myself more and more using Apple Maps since I've found the errors decreasing more and more. Google Maps wasn't perfect when they first launched either, it takes time.

jjolley says:

Apple maps get me where i need to go, for the most part. There have been times where I show up and it's the wrong location, but that had also happened to me a few times with google maps too.

ChrisFricke says:

Interesting that the comments on "The Loop" article are not near as kind as the ones here. Apple's mapping audience still seem pretty divided on the quality of Apple's improvement efforts. Not a good sign...

gmonkey88 says:

I have had no problems with Apple's maps app.

Gazoobee says:

I know there will be a lot of comments of the same type but it still sucks in Western Canada and there hasn't been one change since the very first day despite me (and I'm sure many others) sending in bug reports daily over all that time. Not one error that I have reported has been fixed. Not one. They finally put flyover in last night for a couple of major cities, but that's it. The actual map data is still horribly wrong, and without any kind of transit awareness, the maps app is still useless for anyone who does not drive.

This is my main complaint really. That those that test the app, and those that write articles like this about the app, don't do the very obvious thing of actually testing the app and investigating it's pros and cons. All we ever get is a "someone in California used it to drive somewhere and it was all fine!" kind of review. The real point is, does it work *outside* of the USA? And is it good at anything *except* driving directions? No one ever seems to seriously investigate this one way or the other.

williamsbh76 says:

I don't use maps very much but so far I have only had one complaint with Apple Maps. We were traveling and trying to find a restaurant that was out of the way. Apple Maps was off by about 3 blocks but we found it. I later switched to Google Maps just to check and it was off by about a block in the opposite direction so it was almost a wash. I guess I could see how street view and flyover might be helpful in a large city but to me just having the basic data right is what is most important right now. I am confident Apple will get the data to get caught up soon and that in turn will keep Google innovating as well so in the end we all win no matter which app we use. We just have to be patient, realize that it is all a machine made by man, and therefore subject to flaws. The only way either service will get better is from our honest and helpful feed back instead of just screaming "This app is a piece of $4it!" and moving on without helping.

Couchpotato4life says:

Hahaha your last line made me laugh nd almost spit out my apple juice. Thank you for that haha. Also agree about people just saying its a piece of shit and not sending in reports. I don't use apple maps or google maps but when I do I use google maps because I need it for transit. I also feel that the comments who say that apple maps has been perfect for me since day one are just as useless as the app sucks comments because they don't say anything about how they use the app or where they use it. My two cents but still appreciate the funny comment.

El Hache says:

I'm probably one of the few who prefers iOS 6 maps over google maps. I like the turn by turn navigation (again over google). I haven't really had much of an issue with it other than a few restaurant phone numbers that were incorrect.

draztikrhymez says:

It will be very hard for me to leave Google Maps. I like so much about it but Apple Maps should catch up

CueBall909 says:

No matter how much Apple "improves" their maps, I will not be using their app. Why? For one simple reason; They do not support 3D turn-by-turn driving directions on the iPhone 4 and earlier. There's no technical reason that they can't (it works just fine in Google Maps, Waze, and dozens of other GPS apps), they simply choose not to - presumably to try to get me to upgrade to a newer phone. Until Apple rectifies this I will not use their app and will stick with Google Maps and Waze. Honestly, this sort of thing lowers my perception of Apple as a company far more than the debacle of bungled directions ever did.

CrzyP says:

Apple maps still sucks in Albuquerque. I guess apple only cares about large cities.

Rowanova says:

I've never had a bad experience with Apple maps on my iPhone 4, and I always keep the newest software updates on it. No complaints here.

vanadiumdroid says:

Here in Mexico they work fine and have gotten better.. I no longer have Google Maps on my first page, and I use Apple Maps by default...

E-POTS says:

apple didn't plan it out at all, they thought they could go from nothing to the best map app. but they were wrong, they rushed it and didn't have the manpower to get it at pair with google.

its ok, it just takes time and it'll catch up.

SheikShaka says:

Apple is doing a great job with their maps app. If they continue at this pace they will be at the top for sure.

Enzo83 says:

I've never had an issue with their maps. I mean, I have iPhone 4 and not all the bells and whistles are available on it as they are on the 5, but that's just Apple telling the road to upgrade is ahead if I want all the new features. ;-) Just wish on iPhone 4 maps, that I didn't have to scroll to get to the next mileage point...seems a bit too lazy to me...which makes me have to use another app like Mapquest which seems too bulky and lags sometimes.

dcb2891 says:

I have truly been impressed more and more with the apple maps app lately. I have found myself using it more frequently than the google maps app. The accuracy has improved I feel. It is also nice to be able to use Siri with the apple maps app.

imdozer78 says:

I trust Apple maps app it works well and i have never had a problem in my limited testing but I still think the new google maps app for IOS is better. Im sure in time the apple maps will be awesome but until then I'm glad i have choice.

gordol says:

I'll get excited when Apple improves the actual cartography data used. I don't care how pretty it is, if it continuously tries to send me to the wrong place, it gets REplaced.

watcherorio says:

We've been trying to use Apple Maps here in the Philippines but it is still not up to par with Google Maps in terms of locating known places or buildings. I wish there is a way to help Apple locate or tag places like the one Google has.

doogald says:

Jim Dalrymple can post whatever he wants. All I know is that I submitted two updates using the Apple Maps little form in the app last October and those two mistake still exist. So, if you need to go to Lowes Home Improvement in Nashua, NH, you'd better not use Apple Maps. When you tap the POI you see the address is right, but they have it located miles away on the map, nowhere near the actual location. What is the purpose of the "report a problem" on the POI if they ignore the fixes that people make to them? (It's in the right place in Google Maps.)

Trappiste says:

The thing I am missing from WP now that I am on iP5 is Nokia Maps and other Nokia location services which make Apple look silly. Google Maps is more comparable on raw mapping data quality, but it gives poor routes and the data are (randomly) somewhat outdated in Europe.

Trappiste says:

The thing I am missing from WP now that I am on iP5 is Nokia Maps and other Nokia location services, which make Apple look silly. Google Maps is more comparable on raw mapping data quality, but it gives poor routes and the data are (randomly) somewhat outdated in Europe.

BeyondtheTech says:

Yeah, got lost twice on Apple Maps - one, finding a falafel place in Bergen County, NJ took me going down the wrong direction for two miles, and the other, finding an elementary school for a presentation I ended up being late to. It got me to the wrong school, don't know how they messed up labeling that.