Last week we discussed how Apple’s first attempt at digital mapmaking demonstrated precisely how not to go about developing a mobile app for mass consumption, and while we stand by that advice, details continue to surface about the lead-up to Apple’s iOS 6 maps app that bear examination.
It turns out that the decision to exclude Google maps from iOS 6 had been made some time ago, and for some pretty good reasons. First, the maps app that Google made available to iOS users was substantially less sophisticated than its Android counterpart. The iOS version lacked both voice control and turn-by-turn navigation features which, let’s face it, is the main reason anyone wants a maps app on their phone in the first place.
Of course, some in the blogosphere opined that Apple’s decision wasn’t hubris, but rather a business strategy that relied on the power of its brand to maintain its customer base, forcing its users to accept its inferior product while it would presumably try to improve it in some future iOS update. The improvements will still come, one assumes, but last week we witnessed Apple do something that it is very much not in the habit of doing: apologizing for a shoddy product. CEO Tim Cook admitted that Apple had “fallen short on [their] commitment to deliver the best experience possible to their consumers,” and even went so far as to suggest that iOS users try other independent navigation apps likes Microsoft’s Bing, MapQuest, or the crowd-sourced Waze. And if that weren’t enough, Cook further suggested that users could also create home-screen icons for web-based map services like Nokia’s and, of course, Google’s.
Cook’s apology was both unexpected and very welcome, and we certainly wish Apple all the best for continued improvement in map apps. In the meantime, it’s also good to know that Google’s getting back to work on a map app for iOS that will likely be made available by the end of 2012.