Friday, September 21, 2012

Global 2012: Apple iPhone Maps app

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Announced in June, the latest major release of Apple's iOS software for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch finally became available for download this week, in advance of Friday's launch of the iPhone 5. As the sixth version of the operating system, it ushers in several noteworthy changes, the most noticeable being an entirely rebuilt Maps application, Facebook integration, and a new digital wallet called Passbook.

Reaction on online forums and in social media so far has been mixed. Some are praising Apple for adding new features and streamlining others, while others are up in arms about omitted functionality and reportedly poor battery life since updating.

One of the most prominent changes in Apple's new iPhone and iPad software is seen in a revamped Maps app that uses data from satellite navigation company TomTom (among others), instead of information from rival Google. As part of the change, the app now features fully 3D maps with terrain features and detailed buildings. These are only available to those with iPhone 4S and iPad 2 or newer, but the reaction to them has been largely positive from owners of compatible devices living in the U.S. We've seen a number of complaints this far from people in other countries, however, where Apple's satellite imagery is lower-resolution and the other new feature, turn-by-turn direction, is proving to be less accurate.

The overwhelming majority of complaints regarding iOS 6 are coming from those who are upset by the fact that the new Maps doesn't deliver directions and schedules for public transit, something that the older, Google-powered Maps app did. The new app also lacks Street View, a prominent feature of Google Maps.

Apple is reportedly working to further enhance Maps in subsequent updates to iOS 6. For now, though, those seeking public transit information must turn to other solutions. So far, the best we've seen is actually using the web version of Google Maps from within mobile Safari. Doing so restores access to public transit direction and Street View, although it isn't as snappy as using the native Maps app. Still, it can be added to the iPhone and iPad home screen, which at least makes accessing it easy.

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