iPhone users were shocked when Apple replaced Google Maps with their own app because iPhones users were fine with Google Maps as it worked just fine. Perhaps it’s really more about taking out the competition, but Apple Maps promised to be something quite useful.
At the time, I imagined what it might be like to have Siri reading out directions from the car’s speakers ultimately creating a distinctly “Apple” road tripping experience. However, when the Apple Maps came out, it felt like an unfinished product.
It sometimes gave the wrong directions or would fail to identify streets as one-way roads. Many users reported such problems and Apple came under some scrutiny. It seemed so strange for Apple to release an app that still needed a lot of work. Some speculated that the app would fail, opting to move back to Google Maps.
About a year later, Apple made some significant improvements to their app. Now it’s more reliable and accurate. Tech Times reports that Apple Maps is now more popular than Google Maps for iOS users, suggesting that Apple has finally made their mapping software the default tool. Five billion map-related requests were reported, a figure that comes from Apple, suggesting this is three times more frequent than requests from Google Maps. If accurate, it is quite the turnaround from when Apple Maps debuted.
“We are fast learners and we are fast at fixing things. We learned the maps business incredibly fast,” said Apple’s Greg “Joz” Joswiak, vice president in charge of marketing for iPhones and related services, according to Tech Times.
The website claims Apple Maps relied somewhat on Google Maps initially, but that helped the software to outpace Google, suggesting that it’s common in the industry to buy a company and hire as much or little of its staff as is preferred.
In May, Apple bought Coherent Navigation, a company that develops GPS and another company, Mapsense in September. Other acquisitions by Apple have occurred, though the purposes of such have been kept quiet. It seems these efforts were in part to improve Apple Maps’ reliability. Tech Times suggests that many iOS users may simply just go with the flow, using Apple Maps because they don’t want to install other apps. Another possibility is that iOS software simply defaults to Apple Maps or embeds it on other applications.
“They really did a great job in a short amount of time. Apple has something that few companies have – simplicity in design mixed with high doses of pragmatism and practicality” said Alex Mackenzie-Torres who is a former Google Maps manager and now with competing transit app Moovit.
Simplicity, productivity, and reliability are three things that I think Apple strives to achieve with their products. When Apple Maps first came out, it was flawed; no one thought it could replace Google Maps. The app didn’t seem ready for primetime, but now it works well. One can dwell on Apple’s mistakes, but what’s really important is that they got it right.
People often focus on said mistakes; it gets our attention because we expect things to work as intended. When it’s fixed, we go about our day. However, it’s important to bring some attention to the fix. Apple made right by iOS users, that should count for something.