disappointment trumps geek: why I haven’t upgraded to iOS 6
***My disclaimer here is that I have not had any hands on time with iOS 6. I am basing my opinion on reading a ton of reviews (Jeff Richardson of iPhoneJD has a great roundup of iOS 6 articles here). Since I started brainstorming for this post, Tim Cook has released an apology about Apple’s Bad Maps App, which you can read here. Not sure how I feel about it, but at least there is acknowledgment of consumer frustration.***
This will come to a shock to most who know me and my passion for Apple and geekness, but I have NOT upgraded to iOS 6 yet. Gasp and gaffaw all you want. Shake your heads and shake your fingers….but I have my reasons.
The main reason I have not upgraded to iOS6 is because of the mixed reviews of the new Maps App.
Frankly, I am scared. I am scared of Maps.
Like everything in iOS 6, maps has its lovers and haters. I can’t help but think the lovers are either new iPhone users who don’t know the difference between the new and the old map app on the phone, or die hard Mac Heads who believe Apple can do no wrong, even when Apple removes useful features like public transit directions (instead, opting to allow third parties to make apps for public transit) and adds a completely useless (but pretty) feature like Flyovers.
Living in Boston, I mostly use walking and transit directions on my phone. In MacBreak Weekly’s Episode reviewing iPhone 5, Andy Ihnatko mentions when he searched for Boston Public Garden, the Apple’s new map app directed him to a mall (which I assume is the Prudential Center) about seven blocks away, even though he could SEE the public Garden LABELED as such on the map! So the label was correct but the system did not recognize that it was there?! What’s the point of having a Map App if it doesn’t work properly? Someone is the episode also mentioned getting directions to a restaurant that no longer existed when he got there. I would be super frustrated if that happened to me.
The trolley in Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey. One of my favorite neighborhoods.
I don’t use Maps on a daily basis, but I do use it frequently enough that I would feel lost without transit directions. I know I can go to third party apps for this, as that is the direction in which Apple is pushing users, but I really don’t want to. I have enough apps as it is, I don’t have the time or desire to hunt down the best transit app and have it separate from other maps.
Now before you start ruffling your feathers, I know I can use Google Maps via Safari and just save the page as a button on my Homescreen. And that is what I will do when I am finally forced into iOS 6.
I also know that Apple had a reason for leaving Google behind, which has to do with its competition with Android, who has provided spoken turn-by-turn directions for a while. Google’s deal with Android included this feature, while its deal with Apple did not, and in order to bridge this gap in competing features, Apple had to make some changes. You can read more about the reason behind Apple’s decision to cut Google Maps here.
But the point of this post is not about the reasons Apple did this, or the greatness or availability of work arounds and other alternatives (which you can read about here in an article by Chris Foresman, who pretty much says none of them are as good as Google Maps app.), or the beauty of the new Apple Maps app, or how the service may be better or worse depending on your city.
The point of this post is that even something so great can have major flaws, and to turn the other cheek because you are in love with the mother company doesn’t benefit anyone in the end. I love Apple, but I hate the thought of using the new Maps. And I will avoid it for as long as possible.
Notwithstanding the strategic reasons for Apple’s map switch, it seems like Apple has released a 1.0 product for sure, with tons of room to grow, and the excuse is always that it will get better. It’s like before the iPhone had copy and paste, something that had been available on other devices long before the iPhone, fans defended Apple and the iPhone to the death, relying on the rest of the phone’s pros to outweigh that one very useful con. I get that Apple has good reasons for doing this thing with maps, but that does not excuse the release of an inferior product, especially when the whole reason Apple abandoned Google Maps was, in theory, to release a superior product.
Lovers gon’ love, haters gon’ hate. I am somewhere in the middle.
Many will be surprised by my negativity and disappointment in this post. But if law school has taught me anything, it is to be objective.