How Crazy Are the New Apple Maps?

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If you own an iPhone, you’ve probably heard about the latest system update, iOS6. Maybe even if you don’t own one – there’s been lots of news about how weird (and wrong) its changes to the maps app are.

That’s the main reason I haven’t updated yet – I’m a heavy maps user who needs accurate directions. As Reuters TV puts it in a comparison video, “It’s kind of like the old Google version you’re used to, except according to early customer feedback, it’s a disaster. Misplaced monuments, double-island diplomacy and psychedelic melted architecture.”

This morning Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized to users, saying the company “fell short on this commitment… to deliver the best experience possible.”

I’ll say. The Eiffel Tower is pictured laying sideways across the French cityscape, and many other things are just plain off. There’s a funny Tumblr called The Amazing iOS 6 Maps which documents the mistakes.

They’re working on fixing it, and in the meantime Cook surprisingly says to use Apple’s competitors. “Try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze,” says Cook. “Or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”

How good is Google Maps on an iPhone? Check out that Reuters TV video. They used the competing Google and Apple maps to have two people race each other to certain locations in Hong Kong. (We’re guessing most of our readers don’t live there, but it’s entertaining.)

At least in that city, Google maps were more complete and saved users time by quickly recognizing what they wanted as they typed or searched for a destination, but both offered mostly similar routes. The Apple user had to cheat and ignore his directions to tie in round 1, and lost by almost 30 seconds in round 2. But in round 3, after being directed to “play Frogger on a busy highway” and to cut through private property, the Apple user won by a minute. If you can call that a win.

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