Sunday, 16 September 2012

Mapping our final destination

Even before iO6 was officially announced the Internet had inklings of a new maps application. When Scott Forstall took to the stage, in early June, at this years WWDC, it was confirmed. Apple had built from the ground up, a new native maps application using vectors for seamless navigation.

WWDC Maps Announcment

This was the first official look at the new maps app. The demo of course, is slick, very slick. The audience appear audibly impressed by the way the labels rotate along the maps rotation.
We were introduced to 3D maps, flyover and Siri guided free turn by turn directions.

Journey forward four months, to the official iOS6 released date and iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users get thier first chances to try maps, for real. On the Friday of that same week, I had my first destination maps, when I purchased my iPhone 5.

The inter-web has been awash with photos and comments, as you would expect. I have read many articles on people's take on Apple's maps. There's been a lot of wooha about missing places, wrongly titled cities, warped roads, blocky trees and bushes and Bonsai beaches extension.

Let's up this into perspective, Google maps launched in February of 2005 and as such has had 7 years of improvements. An application like maps, isn't the sort of thing that can be developed solely in a tech lab, it needs customer and developer feedback.

These crowd sourcing improvements are a feature of Tomtom's devices, users can make map improvements straight from their sat nav. With an app like Waze, which it totally community created, when it first came to the UK, it didn't even have motorways. When I joined a helped map parts of the A13 and its adjoining roads.

Maps will only get better, I promise. No sat nav is perfect and road networks are continually changing (15% of roads change every year suggests Tomtom)

Tonight I used turn by turn navigation on my 30 minute approximate commute home. I was a passenger so I could completely test the app safely. I found Siri's directions simple, timely and clear. I found the maps themselves clear to, the places of interest were a little scarce. When we strayed from the route Siri quickly recalculated, without fuss (much quicker than my Tomtom device) and gave new directions. What was great was not hearing "turn around when possible."

Traffic was light tonight, and I would like to see how well traffic problems were flagged on another run. Next time a think I would plug my iPhone into the in car charger, as like most sat nav units using GPS (and 3G data services on a phone) it does gulp down your battery. Although I am finding my battery does properly last the day now, yay!

On the overall I was impressed with maps on iOS 6. It's clear instructions and clean visual layout were smooth and easy to use.

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