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The new iPhone 5 is tremendously successful. iOS 6 is fast, sleek, and feature-packed. While many Apple users are jumping for joy, many on the Internet have resorted to cheap tricks to counter this success. The distorted criticism of iOS 6 Maps has this Apple critic actually defending Apple. Having used the app extensively, I can honestly say it is amazing. It is fast, well-designed, accurate, useful and simply beautiful.
In the wake of the media fiasco, Tim Cook has officially apologized for Maps. This is unprecedented for Apple, and a sign of their new leadership. Steve Jobs did address “antennagate”, however, he claimed that users shouldn’t hold the phone a certain way. He was also correct that all phones have this issue. My last feature phone even had a sticker telling the user not to hold it in a certain area.
I think Steve Jobs was correct in not apologizing. When the Maps fiasco first surfaced, many sighed and remarked that this is antennagate all over. No mapping software is perfect. No phone is perfect. Apple is held to a higher standard than others. I think Reminders in iOS 5 was far worse than Maps. The YouTube app was also pretty bad. For me, Maps seemed to be of higher quality than most apps bundled with iOS.
I still think Maps is decent and the victim of a blogosphere smear campaign. Yes, and I operate this site which is critical of Apple! In my opinion, Cook apologized because of the media storm, not because Maps is awful and un-usable. One could say Maps does not live up to Apple standards. However, Apple has released worse software. Even getting my iPad to successfully sync with iTunes over wi-fi is a roll of the dice (and will be the subject of an upcoming how-to article). Where is the media on this one? The media have thorns in their sides, obsessively fixated on Maps. Competitors are pouring gasoline on the blogosphere distortion machine, hoping to put a dent in iPhone 5 sales. It seems with every Apple release, there is one issue that is blown out of proportion. It doesn’t stop people from lining up for days to get the new Apple device.
This marks a new direction for Apple leadership. Cook is more humble and down-to-earth. I personally think no apology was necessary. I have used Maps extensively, and it has worked well for me. That said, I mainly use the navigation system in my automobile. Cook even recommended other mapping/nav apps until Apple could fix the problems. Unfortunately, since iOS 6 Maps relies on user feedback for corrections, if too many users defect, it could slow down improvements. Cook mentions that with 100 million iOS users currently using Maps, the “…more our customers use our Maps the better it will get”. I plan on using Maps, but verifying critical destinations with MapQuest or Google Maps. One can use Google Maps via Safari, but it does not have voice-based navigation. This has me preferring MapQuest, which is a free app. I think the real-time traffic in Maps is useful, accurate, and has saved me paying for this feature on my car’s nav system.