Did you street turn into a river on your iPhone? Maybe you got directions that included a two hour detour for the fun of it. Or perhaps you found roads running through the middle of your neighbourhood park. These were common issues for iPhone users who updated to the latest version of iOS, or bought the iPhone 5, a few months ago, when Apple removed Google Maps and brought in its own solution.
It was a bad move on Apple’s part, and cost the company a lot of goodwill (and also possibly cost a few high ranking executives their jobs, if you want to believe the industry gossip). Google Maps had not been the only map solution available on the iPhone and it wasn’t necessarily the best solution either, but it was free and came with the phone.
People clearly wanted it back, and once it returned to Apple’s App Store last week, it was downloaded frantically and represented a big step up for people who were using Apple’s maps. It gives you public transit, local listings and in places where it’s supported, Street View, along with turn by turn navigation. It’s much better than the existing maps app, and if you’re still using the Apple Maps, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
But you have to wonder about the people who have been raving about the app on social networks since last week. Because after one week of using it again, it’s easy to say that while it’s a good app, and a big step up on Apple’s own offering, there are plenty of other free options around which work even better.
We’ve written earlier about the alternatives to Apple Map, when Google wasn’t an option, and if you rely heavily enough on maps that this mattered to you, then it’s likely that for the last three months, you’ve been using one of these. Some of the new ones, like Nokia’s Here, have remarkably accurate maps, while the social media elements of Waze, which let you warn people about traffic jams and potholes are a big plus and work well in India too.
If you held out on the iOS update because of the maps app, then this is your chance to catch up—but if you, like most people around the world, found a good alternative to use in between, then it’s hardly news. I’m quite addicted to Waze—the gamification of maps actually makes me more likely to use the app than getting from one place to the next without getting lost ever did. Unless Google really had no knowledge of Apple’s decision on maps, this was really a bit of a lost opportunity for them, and has given the other map apps a chance to gain users instead.