With the release of its in-house mapping software, Apple was taking a major gamble. They were going against rival Google and that company’s powerful and popular mapping software, so the Cupertino company surely had their work cut out for them.
The plan was for Apple to replace Google, the default mapping software on Apple devices like the iPad and iPhone, with Apple Maps. The effort to wean people off of Google Maps and on to their own offering seems to have fumbled, at least initially.
The Statue of Liberty is missing, for one thing, and an entire city finds itself in the ocean. The Hoover Dam has sunk in the Colorado River and a number of highways simply end in the middle of nowhere.
Within mere minutes of its release, users found a number of problems with Apple Maps. Features like transit directions, a mainstay in Google’s entry, are simply absent or “severely limited.”
And the hyped “Flyby” mode, which theoretically allows users a 3D rendering of buildings and landmarks, looks shabby and incomplete. The Eiffel Tower looks like a pancake, while rendering errors left countless bridges deformed and roads distorted.
Another issue involves the tendency to define features by their names, which presents a problem for Madison Square Garden. Apple Maps imagines it as, well, a square garden.
There were also errors in business listings. One Twitter user reported trying to call for a taxi and winding up getting a taxidermist.
The furore over Apple Maps has been swift and merciless, with Gizmodo dubbing the software an “Apocalyptic Horror Show” and others railing incessantly about the “disaster.” From long-time Apple “fans” to those who simply love a good laugh, the Apple Maps debacle has resonated in a big way in today’s world of high expectations.
For some, however, Apple gets a free pass. Mapping, after all, is hard work.
“As Apple grows and tries to conquer more of the tech world, its tasks will become more complex,” says Kevin Restivo, analyst with global research firm IDC. “So it’s hard to criticize Apple or Tim Cook. The more land Apple tries to grab, the harder it’s going to be.”
Perhaps that’s just it. Apple’s growth into the world’s most successful company and the biggest profit-maker on the planet shouldn’t come with such lofty expectations. It’s “hard to criticize” them because, heck, they’re trying. And like a preschooler stumbling over his or her words at the first Christmas pageant, maybe the best response is a slightly condescending round of applause for a job…done.