This is a piece written by one of our New Contributors here on Irish Apple Blog Simon Drew . Simon writes for UK comparison website best-mobile-contracts.co.uk
New reports are emerging that several iOS developers warned Apple months in advance that its new Maps app was not up to scratch. It has also been revealed that the many problems were “well understood” at Apple, but the company decided to push ahead with the new app despite its defects.
Yet if Apple was well aware of the problems and the poor user experience they would create, it could have simply postponed the new app for iOS 7 while these problems were resolved. Apple could have then continued using Google Maps for iOS 6, as Apple still had a full year remaining on its licence agreement with Google for the use of its mapping data.
So why was Apple so desperate to introduce an inferior Maps app?
The replacement of Google Maps with an Apple designed Maps app was one of the last decisions that the late Steve Jobs made regarding the iPhone before his untimely death in 2011. This decision was part of his wider war on Google and its Android operating system, which he was convinced had “ripped off” iOS in its design and many of its features. Jobs had earlier declared that he would go “thermonuclear” on Android, and Apple has since waged a patent war against many manufacturers supporting it.
Google Maps was not the only Google product removed from iOS 6. Apple also dropped its licence for YouTube as a standard app, forcing Google to release a new app to the App Store. This worked out well for iPhone users, as the new app included many features that were missing from earlier versions.
But while Google was able to quickly assemble a new YouTube app when it became apparent that Apple would no longer pay to have it featured on iOS, Google has not yet released a new Maps app to replace the service it lost when iOS 6 was announced earlier this summer.
The reason for this is that Google only found out about Apple’s decision to drop Google Maps at the same time as the general public – when the new Maps app was unveiled at WWDC. The Apple Maps app also featured something that Google lacked – a 3D mode. Google has been reluctant to simply release an iOS version of its existing Android Google Maps app until such a 3D mode has been added.
Steve Jobs reportedly felt that Google deliberately withheld key features of services it provided to iOS, and that it would be better for Apple to develop similar services itself. For example, turn-by-turn navigation has been available for Google Maps on Android for some time but was never introduced by Google on the iOS Maps app.
Steve Jobs did not just want to remove Google Maps and YouTube – he wanted to completely eradicate any influence that Google had on the iPhone – including removing Google Search. Jobs was apparently warned at the time that removing Google Search would cause a serious public backlash and should not be done – while replacing Google Maps would not cause much of an issue.
How wrong they were. Many iPhone owners could have become accustomed to Bing within a few days – or alternatively used Siri to conduct searches – but the new Maps app has sparked an unprecedented level of complaints against Apple and made this one of the most problematic iPhone launches in history.
Steve Jobs may have had a personal hatred for Android but Apple should not have allowed its co-founder’s personal feelings to influence its business decisions to such a great extent. Whether Jobs liked it or not, many people rely on a number of Google services including Search and Maps, and the quest to remove these features is only resulting in a diminished user experience for iPhone owners. For many people it seems, Apple currently cares more about screwing Google than providing something of value to its customers.
In the long run, the decision to use its own Maps app will be beneficial for Apple, but the company should have made sure it was in full working order before releasing it to the public. The fact that Apple knew about the app’s problems long before it was released to the public indicates that providing a decent smartphone mapping experience was not Apple’s number one priority when it came to developing iOS 6.
Apple is working hard fixing many of the problems that have been highlighted by customers, and reportedly has Apple store employees manually correcting incorrect location data. Google, for its part, has announced that it will not release a new Google Maps app for iOS for a few months yet.