Companies and corporations who work together to create a set of services in a product often need to be careful at how their private politics effect consumers. The majority of the public either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about how difficult it is for two major companies with high end products to work together – licensing agreements can not only take endless nights and determination, it can take nothing short of a miracle.
To date, Apple has been remarkably successful at managing these sorts of licensing agreements. The iTunes Music Store, the Movie Store, and Television Store are all great examples of how when Apple wants to, they can get the job done that benefits not only themselves and the content owners, but also works in favor of the consumers.
Clearly, somehow or somewhere, this did not work with iOS 6′s new Maps application.
I’ve seen lots of people comment about how the new Maps application “looks different now” – and it certainly does – but as the mainstream media is picking up, it’s also a vastly different – and almost certainly worse – application then it was before. The original iPhone’s Maps application (and every iOS version since then, until now) was powered by the widely used Google Maps service, which is highly regarded as one of the best mapping services on the internet. But then Google released their highly competitive Android operating system, which created a strain of sorts between Apple and Google. The two companies, which had previously worked so well together, began to grow distant. Bitterness infested both sides – and when it came time for Apple and Google to renew their licensing contact, it just didn’t pan out.
Nobody outside of Apple or Google knows exactly how these talks went down, but the results are clear – starting in iOS 6, the previously bundled YouTube application has been removed, and the old Maps application has been destroyed. What you see in iOS 6 is a brand new Maps app, completely rebuilt from the ground up. It has some great new features that the old one was lacking such as turn-by-turn navigation, and gorgeous 3D rendering support in a few areas (seen in the screenshot above) – but it’s also gotten quite dumb. As the mainstream media has picked up on, the new iOS 6 Maps application is quite a few steps back in terms of actual data offered. Locations may be incorrectly labeled or placed. Transit directions have been lost. Almost an unimaginable number of users are very, very angry – perhaps more so than really necessary, being fed dramatized – though true – information by the media, who are always looking for a good scandal.
So for any concerned consumers out there – yes, there is a lot wrong with the new iOS 6 Maps app. The rumors are true, you certainly won’t be getting the same experience as before – and the new experience might largely be inferior. But remember that this is Day 2 of release. I’ve been using pre-release versions of iOS 6 and over the last few months have seen the Maps app get better and better with each passing month. From an end user’s standpoint, there’s no excuse for such a dramatic reduction in functionality – but give it a year or two, and I bet that original Google Maps app – the core of which still lives in most Android devices, and on the web – will have some real competition. It’s just unfortunate that iOS users need to deal with this for the time being.