More on Apple’s Map Malfunction

The Apple Maps that replaced Google’s in the new iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad have attracted widespread mockery. Quirks in the maps’ representation of China include a duplicate set of Diaoyu Islands and a missing Yangtze river. But Anthony Drendel (via Daring Fireball) argues that in general Apple’s new maps are actually an improvement for users in China:

I’m not disputing that Maps does give a lot of strange results to a lot of people all around the world, but for a large, large number of people, iOS 6 Maps has been a huge improvement over Google Maps. I’m talking about those of us who live in China (you know, the place with 1.3+ billion people and the second-largest economy in the world). Google Maps was always pretty terrible here. In the big cities and tourist centers, it was passable. Once you left China’s large metropolises, however, you were pretty much on your own. You could usually see expressways, highways, and even a lot of smaller roads, but there were very, very few shops, restaurants, banks, ATMs, etc. listed.

[…] As someone who lives in China and has to find my way around, the superiority of iOS 6 Maps is clear. In my experience, the new version of Maps zooms in much further, shows more points of interest, clearly labels banks and cellphone shops (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom), and gives the locations of ATMs and public restrooms (my original iPad running iOS 5 with Google-powered Maps doesn’t show either of those things).

Drendel’s post includes a comparison of Apple’s and Google’s renditions of an area just outside of Lijiang, Yunnan—perhaps not a large enough sample to base any firm conclusions on.

In any case, not all China-based users are benefiting from Chinese mapping partner Autonavi’s local knowledge. Charles Custer reported the company’s explanation at Tech in Asia:

AutoNavi […] has responded to Chinese user complaints by saying that there is nothing wrong with the AutoNavi Maps product, and the reason for the issues people have experienced is that apparently, the upgrade to iOS 6 has caused some users to be unable to connect to the AutoNavi service. Their maps of China, then, are being served by TomTom (another Apple Maps partner), and that’s where the mistakes are coming from.

Autonavi has offered a fix for this problem. Meanwhile, Baidu has released a major update to its own maps app.

At Sinosplice, meanwhile, John Pasden gives instructions for accessing a silver lining to iOS 6: its new system-wide text-to-spoken-Chinese function.


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