Maps Hype

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Maps is not perfect. It is correct that the Tacoma Narrows bridge is poorly rendered. It appears to be “melting”. While this is not ideal, it is an aesthetics issue. It in no way affects navigation or directions. It is a blemish on an otherwise beautiful app.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge melting

Many of the flaws with iOS Maps are true. However, most of them are trivial. Most bridges, even the Brooklyn Bridge, have the “melting” distortion when viewed in satellite mode. This does not affect navigation. Also, Maps is sometimes using location names to render the view. For example, Madison Square Garden is rendered as an actual garden. Airfield Gardens, an actual garden in Ireland, is rendered as an airport. Yes, Maps is not perfect, but for the vast majority of people, it will do the job with grace and elegance. It is the most aesthetically pleasing mapping/nav app I have used. Once these data issues are ironed out (many of them have already been fixed), it will be a killer app.

The Maps application is wonderful, but the data needs improvement. You can actually make it better. I read a wonderful article in MacWorld, providing information on reporting problems with Maps. You can actually provide the correction within the app and send this information to Apple — just peel up the corner of the app. This is helpful and constructive. Since the map data is in the cloud, corrections to map data will not require updating the app. With hundreds of millions of iOS users around the world, cooperation will make this excellent app even better. If you find something that is wrong, by all means, report it.

From my experience, living in the SF Bay Area, the maps are totally accurate. This may be because Apple is based in Cupertino. With all of the Apple employees in the area, along with iPhone-loving techies, most anomalies in my area have been discovered and fixed. I have played with Maps for hours. It is very engaging and addictive. Even an Apple critic like me has to admit this is a great app. While not perfect, it will get better. At the exceptional price of free, there’s not much to complain about (unless you are a bitter fanboy). If you rely on your iOS device to get around, it may be a good idea to download MapQuest before you drive off to that critical venture capital meeting. You should use Maps, but for important meetings, double-check your directions with MapQuest or another app. If Maps is wrong, take the time to report it. It only takes a few minutes.

Having used navigation systems for over five years, they are all imperfect. My Garmin also gave me the occasional bad direction, particularly around roads that ran parallel to the 101 freeway on the Peninsula (south of San Francisco). Even Google Maps is inaccurate in places like China. Mapping the entire world is a huge and daunting task, but nit-picking at flaws is easy…

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