WSJ: ‘People Have Begun to Love’ Apple Maps

Ann-Marie Alcántara, Wall Street Journal:

While Apple might not need the app to sell any more iPhones, the company’s lofty ambitions with cars and augmented-reality headsets depend on maps people actually like using.

“Maps has come a long way, and people have noticed,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software, said during the company’s 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference.

About a year ago, Randall Munroe published a comic in which Apple Maps was referred to as “kind of good now”. I wrote about my then-recent experiences with Apple Maps which were, in short: pretty good directions, pretty bad place listings.

A year and a bit later, and the story remains basically the same where I live. A place listing in Google Maps will almost always give me accurate hours, and will often show when they were last confirmed by the business. In Apple Maps, I still see occasional listings for businesses which permanently closed a decade or more ago. Petroleum companies located on the ninth floor of some skyscraper are still marked as gas stations. These things are not confidence boosting, and it is no surprise to me that business hours are often inaccurate.

Then there are missing features like cycling directions, announced with iOS 14. Three years later, only three cities in Canada have been updated with support — none of them Calgary — which, I suppose, beats Spain where they are only available in Barcelona.

Apple Maps is eleven years old but it does not feel nearly as capable or reliable as Google Maps did at the same age in 2016. I prefer it for directions but, for everything else, it is still catching up.