Waze is one of Apple’s (assumed) mapping partners but its CEO has slammed what he considers to be the poor quality of local data and directions in the new iOS 6 mapping app. Noam Bardin told the following to Business Insider:
“Apple went out and partnered with the weakest player,” Bardin says. “They’re now coming out with the lowest, weakest data set and they’re competing against Google, which has the highest data set. What’s going to happen with the Apple maps, is that you’re literally not going to find things. When you do find them, they might be in the wrong place or position geographically. And if you do have it, the route to it may not be the optimal route.”
He’s referring to TomTom as the primary data/navigation provider for iOS 6 maps. There are a lot of companies on the copyright page but the general sense is that TomTom is providing much of the local POI data and directions.
I had my own bad experience with a TomTom powered GPS device this summer and it caused me to wonder how competitive Apple maps would be. If my experience is any indication, and if Bardin is right, the quality of Apple’s maps experience (aside from visuals) will be quite weak.
Many people are responding positively to the visual aspect of Maps. This is from CNET this evening:
Whenever you hear that an app is beautiful to behold, especially an app as integral to the use of the iPhone as Maps, it can’t help but feel superfluous. Still, try to look at Maps on an iPhone 5 and not feel wowed.
I haven’t used iOS 6 maps and can’t affirm or contradict any of the statements above. But if the data in Apple’s maps are as bad as Bardin suggests then Apple will have to scramble to swap out TomTom with another vendor or vendors. One would have assumed that Apple did its due diligence. Still many people (in the industry) can’t distinguish among the various local databases.
In the end Apple is going to have to do much more to “bring mapping in-house.” It really can’t outsource core functions to third parties. They’ll find (like Google) that if they want to offer a top-notch mapping product they’ll need to get much more involved with the horrors of local data.
Has anyone else tested iOS 6 maps and found them to be lacking (beyond Street View and public transit data)?
Update: See comments below for some favorable reviews of Apple Maps (USAToday, TechCrunch). See also, my related post at Search Engine Land: Critics Rave About iPhone 5 But Many Roast Apple’s Maps.