Tech churls have been claiming Apple has lost its direction since even before the death of Steve Jobs robbed the company of its talismanic figurehead. But amid savage and justified criticism of the Apple Maps on iPhone 5 and older-gen iPhones, it seems that there might be something in their doom-saying.
Here’s the mapping solution’s greatest misses…
1 Obsolete businesses
In need of a Woolworths in the locality for some pick and mix, cheap homewares and a packet of Spangles? Or maybe you want to pick up the hot new Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw and Blue Rondo a la Turk long players on vinyl from your friendly neighbourhood Our Price?
Don’t worry. Apple Maps, which lists branches of both long-dead retailers, has got you covered. The fact that Woolies shuffled off British high streets back in 2009 is of no bearing to Apple’s map compilers. Nor is the fact that Our Price hasn't been a going concern since 2002.
Typos are legion in Apple Maps, with misspelled place names that take in Westminister, Upper Halloway and Shephard’s Bush Green. The impression given is that they were inputted by someone for whom English is a foreign language. Or an Englishman who was failed by the state education system's laissez-faire approach to spelling.
Attention to detail was once integral to Apple devices. Steve Jobs wouldn’t have had it any other way. But on the evidence of these lexical lead balloons, it’s fair to say that Tim Cook is running a much less tight ship.
3 Cloud cover
Colchester is uncommonly pretty for Essex. But there’s no way you’d know that from Apple Maps, where the former hub of Roman Britain is completely obscured by clouds.
4 Whole towns totalled
Solihull is completely AWOL from Apple Maps. More embarrassingly, so is Shakespeare’s world-famous birthplace Stratford upon Avon, which has been reconfigured as a TV studio somewhere in the Midlands.
All of a sudden those alleged privacy violations stemming from the camera cars Google used to improve Google Maps seem a small price to pay for mapping software that’s actually worthy of the name.
5 The non-apology
As iPhone 4 owners who remember the ‘you’re holding it wrong’ antennagate farrago will attest, apologies don’t come easy to Apple.
They won’t be surprised then that the best part of two days after Apple Maps landed with iOS 6 and mass-market media coverage of its shortcomings, there’s nothing remotely approaching contrition coming out of Cupertino.
Instead, we were told that “the more people use [Apple Maps], the better it will get”, with the implication that we should be patient with Apple given what a “major initiative” the software represents. That almost feels like it’s our fault for getting annoyed at being served up such a dog’s dinner of an app.
Whatever Elton John might have told you, sorry needn’t be the hardest word. But you wouldn’t know it from the way Apple carries on.