Saturday, 22 September 2012


So.... ios6 hits the streets and the big hooha is the Apple Map. I've been looking at this and the complainers are quite right. It is poor. Here is the Satellite images for my village:

Other complaints are whole towns missing or misplaced. Quite unforgivable in this day and age of the single gazetteer and all the work done in that area. There is a whole area of expertise laughing at these maps and so they should. Or should they?

I see that apple are busy recruiting mapping experts and maybe this is a bit late, but lets first look at the source of this data. TomTom, who purchased TeleAtlas (I blogged about that here: tom-tom-buys-tele-atlas) were the supplier. The driver for the TomTom application has always been navigation. Basically a network topology with POI's. It a totally different product to Google Maps. It is derived from a different source, designed to be viewed by someone driving a car, so not pretty, but clear and uncluttered so that a casual glance will give you all the info you need. There is no real need for total accuracy in the position of the POI's (although they shouldn't be missing altogether!).

Now lets look at Google Maps. The driver for this has always been "organising the worlds information". It is about collecting all the mapping information in the world and delivering it in an organised way. Accuracy was never the highest priority but in order to organise, a natural order of accuracy was achieved. It's not survey accuracy, but it hits the mark for 90% of the population. It has a lot in it. 8 years after purchasing the original product and an investment in the $millions ($Billions?) Google has achieved something no one thought was possible 10 years ago. Their satnav is not fantastic however. It's ok, it does some quite nice stuff, but I have no control and the display isn't the easiest to read when driving.

With this in mind, lets go back to the Apple Map and have a look at its navigation:

Route options.

Clear Mapping that is easy to read while driving

Its very easy to criticise, but lets see. If the Apple offering forces Google to improve its navigation, and the Google offering forces Apple to improve it's mapping we are bound to end up with really good applications on both platforms.

Written and submitted from home

A thought on ios6 from TFL from @owencadams - (unverified but very funny)

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