Great Maps – But No GPS
Apple Maps has gotten a lot of flack in recent years, but the original iPhone actually had best mapping application of its era by a huge margin. In those days, Apple had partnered with Google Maps — Apple’s attempt at releasing its own Maps wouldn’t come until five years later when its partnership with Google fell apart — so the quality of the mapping data was about the same as you’d get from Google Maps anywhere else, but the quality of the Maps application was second-to-none on a mobile device.
Much of this was due to the touchscreen, which offered a way to pan and zoom around the map in a much more natural way. Few other mobile phones at the time offered any kind of mapping apps, and those that did were often cumbersome to navigate and hard to read. By contrast, Apple’s Maps app was a breath of fresh air.
Back then, however, there were no turn-by-turn navigation features. You could get directions in Maps, but it wouldn’t guide you to your destination, which wasn’t surprising as the original iPhone had no GPS capabilities. That wouldn’t come until the following year when Apple released the iPhone 3G, but even then it would be another few years — and a divorce with Google Maps — before Apple’s own Maps app got turn-by-turn navigation, although plenty of third-party developers stepped in to fill the void including apps from major GPS makers like Garmin and TomTom — once there was an App Store to publish them on, that is.