Destination Unknown: iPhone sans Google Maps
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that most of the civilized world is aware that a new iPhone is due to release in a few days. If you have the technological wherewithal to be reading this blog, then I’m pretty sure you have been unable to avoid the plague of iPhone press riddled throughout the internet for the past few days, weeks, months. And if you are with me so far, I’m going to crawl a little further out onto that limb and assume that you have also heard that Apple will be kicking America’s favorite Navigation App, Google Maps, to the curb in the newest version of its mobile device. According to Apple, their new and “improved” Maps will conjure the power of Waze, TomTom, and Yelp, to create what they believe will be the Highlander (the movie, not the Toyota) of all Navigation Apps. The new App will provide real-time traffic updates, turn-by-turn directions, and point of interest info.
In theory it sounds great, doesn’t it? Maybe they’ve even improved on the Waze interface so I don’t feel like I’m going to crash my car every time I try to alert fellow Wazers that there’s a car parked on the shoulder. Before I get ahead of myself, I just want to know if anyone else is just a little bit nervous about this switch? Directions are about trust, and I have grown to trust Google Maps. Google Maps is so simple to use, but incredibly detailed at the same time—it’s the go-to! We’ve all been there—it’s late at night, your lost in the one city in America that doesn’t use street signs, on a road that your in-dash navigation swears doesn’t exist, and the one beacon of hope is that you have Google Maps to navigate you out of the Twilight Zone.
Granted I haven’t had the chance to use Apple Maps, or even hold an iPhone 5 in my hand, but the initial comparison of the two Nav Apps demonstrates that at first run Apple Maps does not provide the same level of detail that we have grown accustomed to with Google Maps. In side by side screenshots, Apple Maps is not only missing a lot of the smaller roads and landmarks, but its “traffic” function appears to be severely lacking, and there is no public transportation feature.
I understand that Apple had to finally put its foot down. Google and Apple are the oil and water of the tech world—they just don’t mix. But I won't be one of the first out there to raise the red flag and say that I’m a little frightened to be navigating the unknown without my trusted co-pilot. Google has years of experience under their belt, they know navigation. I think iPhone fever has caused people to overlook the potential pitfalls of the latest product. While a less than average new Maps App probably won’t have me suddenly begging for the new Nexus phone—I’m just hoping that Apple Maps doesn’t turn out to be the Google + of the navigation world.