In a piece detailing Apple’s troubles with its new Maps app, The New York Times’ David Pogue outs that Google is bringing Street View to its mobile web app. The sharp eyes of Christian Zibreg at iDownloadblog picked this detail out of the article.
The revelation comes in a passage about Google’s mobile app, which is still available to users of the iPhone (emphasis ours):
You can still use Google’s maps — on the Web. Visit maps.google.com and accept the offer to create a Home-screen icon for you. You won’t get spoken directions, but you’ll get written directions, public transportation details, live traffic reports and, of course, Google’s far superior maps and data. (In two weeks, you’ll be able to get Street View this way, too, says Google.) And you can install the Google Plus Local app for full access to Google’s more complete database of shops and businesses.
In our review of iOS 6, we took Apple to task for what we felt was a woefully underdeveloped and inaccurate mapping dataset. The maps are beautifully done and the interface elements are sure to be copied, but they’re definitely not on par with Google’s offerings.
The lack of Street View was one major downside of Apple’s apps as well, which Google seems set to capitalize on by offering it in its mobile web app, something that it does not do currently. Apple offers its 3D Flyover feature in limited cities, but it’s no replacement for Google’s ‘on the ground’ viewpoint when it comes to finishing off those last few steps to a destination.
Now that iOS 6 has hit the ground and more people are getting the chance to use it, the irritation over Apple’s maps has begun to grow in volume.
Pogue covers three burning questions when it comes to maps on iOS, which he appeared to get answered via Apple and Google:
First, why did Apple jettison Google’s map service, which is polished and mature?
Second, how did Apple and its elite squad of perfectionists misfire so badly?
Third, what, exactly, is the underlying problem, and how long will it take to fix?
In response, Apple tells Pogue that Google was saving ‘all of the best’ features of Maps for its own Android phones. These include spoken turn-by-turn directions and vector-based apps. He also mentions the data factor, in which Google is able to grow its service by collecting data via Apple’s users of its app. Apple, of course, wasn’t enamored with this idea.
Apple says that 99% of the data that it has collected from a variety of third parties is accurate, but there is still that 1%, and that’s a lot of errors when you’re talking about 100M POIs.
And then there is fixing it:
Since the data is all online, Apple can introduce fixes instantly as they’re made, but “it’s not going to change by Friday,” says a product manager. That’s because, in general, the fixes have to be made one at a time, by hand.
Apple acknowledges the stumble. “We own this; we manage the vendors. This is no one’s issue but ours,” an Apple executive told me. And it vows to pour as much time and manpower into repairing Maps as it takes.
Unfortunately, making Apple Maps reliable and complete will take a very long time.
And, as is de rigueur over the last couple of days, Pogue also confirms that google is busy getting an iPhone and iPad version of its maps app ready, which will be available in a couple of months.
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