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Apple recruiting ex-Google staff for Apple Maps?

In a bid to improve and develop its Maps application Apple is allegedly looking to lure ex-Google Map staffers to Cuppertino.

According to TechCrunch: ‘Apple is pursuing a strategy of luring away Google Maps employees who helped develop the search giant’s product on contract.’  

The source, who worked as a contractor on Google Maps stated developers began looking for a new challenge when work on indoor mapping started.

iOS 6, the latest version of Apple’s operating system launch last week. While it brought a host of improvements including local search with Siri and Facebook integration, Maps has been widely criticised for incorrect information and even missing cities, so recruiting developers from Google makes sense.

Following criticism in the press and from users, Apple’s spokesperson Trudy Muller stated: “We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get. We’re also working with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps in the App Store into iOS Maps. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.” 

What are Apple Maps?

Apple proudly announced its homegrown mapping service at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June. Apple Maps includes turn-by-turn instructions, Traffic and a choice of Standard, Hybrid or Satellite maps. Flyover provides 3D views of landmarks in key cities you can move around and it works with voice-assistant Siri, so you can use it in a car.

Why has Apple introduced Maps?

Apple and Google do not have a harmonious relationship, by ditching Google Maps, which was pre-installed on previous iPhones, Apple is moving away from its dependence on Google.

The iOS 6 update also removed the native YouTube app, although you can still download the YouTube app from the Apple App Store. Unfortunately there’s no Google Map app currently available, although according to The Guardian the app is awaiting approval from Apple. So unless you download a third-party navigation app (below) or access Google Maps via your browser, iOS 6 users have to use Apple Maps.

What’s the problem with Apple Maps?

Numerous issues have been reported with Apple Maps, the majority centre on the maps being littered with errors and with less detail than Google Maps.

Entire cities are missing. Doncaster is spelt Duncaster, the village of Cheddar is incorrectly called Shipham and in satellite view Maidenhead is obscured by cloud (below).

Apple Maps uses data from TomTom, but Apple designed the maps. TomTom distanced itself from the issues, a representative telling Reuters: “There is a difference between a map and an app. We don’t develop the app. We licence the map data, which is like a foundation. The customer can build on top of that, but we licence the same mapping data to all our customers.”

Apple maps

We’ve been using Apple Maps over the last few days and it’s not terrible. Route planning is straightforward and comes with three suggestions. It got us from A to B in some short pedestrian journeys in Central London, and car journeys outside of London. The biggest loss for us is the lack of public transport information although Flyover is worth a mention with spectacular 3D views (below).

Apple maps flyover

 

Is there an alternative to Apple Maps?

There are numerous useful mapping apps. Navfree is totally free, includes turn by turn directions, a pedestrian mode and works offline, so you don’t need a data connection. CoPilot GPS is also free and includes a pedestrian mode, but voice controls are not included. You can still access Google Maps via the iPhone’s browser by going to maps.google.com

Google spent years improving Google Maps, continually updating it to add new features and Apple needs to do the same and hopefully iOS users will see improvement soon.

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