But it’s hard to deny that the Maps app still lacks the depth and polish of the Google app that it replaced. The app’s mocked-up street signs that let you know your next direction are pretty, but with a small font that’s hard to read at a glance. So even if you have the directions read out to you, it’ll be hard to get back on track if you miss it.
And the maps themselves, not just the place listings, aren’t that logical. In New York, PC Mag’s Jamie Lendino lamented that the names of the neighborhoods seem oddly chosen and oddly placed. Lendino also notes that the traffic overlay in Apple maps isn’t nearly as clear as Google’s shades of red, yellow and green.
“That’s gone with Apple Maps,” he writes. “Instead, you get some red dotted lines showing … something. I’m assuming congestion.”
The Google Maps app is widely considered to be a casualty of the “thermonuclear war” between Apple and Google over the Android operating system. Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs made no effort to hide his belief that Google had stolen Apple’s ideas when it launched its own operating system. The after-effects of that belief are echoing today, with Apple fighting Android-based smartphone makers Samsung, HTC and Google-owned Motorola in courts around the world over intellectual property.
In this case, that conflict has gotten in the way of Apple’s greatest selling point: It just works. Maps doesn’t.
Apple will make Maps better, but it will take time. Google, after all, didn’t build its service in a day and is relentlessly adding layers and details to its maps. You can even go inside buildings now in Google Maps for Android.
Speaking of Google Maps, Google isn’t currently offering a standalone Maps application to iPhone users. Those iPhone users that need to can use the maps service through their Internet browser. You can even set up a home screen bookmark for your Apple device through the sharing menu in the browser.
So should you download iOS 6? The answer depends solely on how much you use Maps. Upgraders get a lot of features in exchange for one app. But if that app is all you use, you may want to hold off until you find a replacement maps app that you like.
Apple’s iOS 6: What you should know
Apple’s iPhone 5: What does it cost to make?
Apple’s iPhone 5: Review Roundup