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May 19, 2012

Can new iOS Maps be so “amazing” on first attempt to compete with Google?

street-view

In the past few years, Apple has been quietly but constantly working on ways to push Google away from iOS. A weird sentence? Not when iOS is using Google Search and Google Maps…

So in the past we heard about the option to use Bing Search, and now the topic is Maps.

Through the past couple of years, Apple has developed its own, in-house 3-D mapping database, based on the acquisition of three mapping software companies between 2009 and 2011, Placebase, C3 Technologies, and Poly9. Now it seems that the technology is ready to be embedded in iOS 6. At least those are the current rumors in the “techmosphere”.

To me it sounds like a huge challenge: from a technical point of view: acquiring 3 different companies, merging their 3 technologies together, making them compatible with one another, seems like an almost impossible mission, especially when the end result should look consistent and fit Apple’s strict usability guidelines. 

And when they are done doing that part, the product should also be damn good. It should be competitive to Google mapping services which are, simply put: AMAZING.

Apple will have to make it amazing in the first attempt, and those maps should not only look great (3D) – they should be practical, have the same user experience like Google has and - most important, need to provide the same search and location services. That part is probably impossible.

These days when maps and location services are key to SoMoClo apps, Apple cannot compromise on less than a perfect first version of those new maps. When I just got my first iPhone, I used to be so impressed with it, I told everyone it’s a technology from another world. It was innovative, unbelievably stable and very convenient. Things have changed ever since: iOS is not that innovative any longer, bugs can be easily found, and Apple is even using the “beta” trick to push unfinished products to the market (Siri).

It makes me think we might be a bit disappointed with the new Apple Maps, at least at first.

But I will be very happy to be wrong...



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