Tell us how you get around: Apple Maps, Google, Nafteq, TomTom… or paper?
Apple’s iOS6 disappointed many with its Apple Maps software. From the howls of anguish, it might seem that Apple had personally injured countless users, instead of simply making a commercial decision to distance itself from Google, and then releasing its own app before it was ready.
This over-reaction is just another illustration of the fact that the iPhone 5 is no longer just a phone. It is a celebrity in its own right, whose every step will be exposed to ludicrous adulation – or else scorn and derision.
But what about the maps? Mobile navigation was already a battlefield, with Google Maps, TomTom, Nokia Navteq, Microsoft Bing and many others fighting for the right to direct your footsteps. The clumsy arrival of Apple Maps, and Google’s indifference to the plight of iPhone and iPad owners simply turned up the heat.
Apple Maps made London look great in 3D, but the application caused confusion among users by missing landmarks, putting an airfield in the middle of Dublin, ignoring the Falkland islands and filling the marina of St. Katherine’s Dock with concrete.
Are competitors capitalising on Apple’s troubles? “We believe that the best user experience comes indeed from precise data, robust processing of core platform functionalities like routing, geocoding and traffic, and by user-friendly apps. All this cannot be built overnight,” said Nokia’s Adam Fraser, referring to Apple’s rushed application launch.
Perhaps it was this expertise, and Nokia’s $8 billion investment in mapping company Navteq, that made Amazon choose Nokia Maps as a navigational aid for Kindle Fire 2, even though the tablet runs Google’s Android OS.
Google has been really busy perfecting its Maps this year, adding UK railway timetables, cycling directions and other useful features. However, it turns out that some of the technology that made Google Maps so successful could have been stolen. This week, the US positioning system developer Skyhook has accused the Silicon Valley giant of using nine patents related to Wi-Fi Positioning Systems (WPS) without a licence.
Average smartphone users won’t care about corporate politics or patents. They will care about whether an application can take them from point A to point B, and “vote with their wallet”. That’s why we are asking TechWeekEurope readers: what navigation software do you prefer?