Apple Maps fails simple London postcode search

This morning, Apple Maps let me down badly on my way to a meeting. All I needed to do was look up a London postcode and find the nearest tube station. Simple. It’s something I’ve done many times using the Google-powered Maps app on my iPhone. But for Apple Maps (which replaced Google Maps in Apple’s recent iOS 6 update), this simple request was too much to ask.

Thankfully Google Maps came to the rescue (via web browser). Have a look at the screenshots below and witness the Apple Maps shambles.

How it should be – Google Maps clearly showed three named tube stations, with Tottenham Court Road closest to the pin (showing the result of my postcode search). Result.

Apple Maps identified the WRONG LOCATION for the postcode, the MAP FAILED TO LOAD FULLY and NO STATIONS WERE SHOWN.

After zooming and repositioning the map, it loaded fully and two of the three stations were displayed (without names) but THE CLOSEST STATION WAS MISSING. I struggle to imagine a poorer user experience. And it’s only by comparing to other maps that the poor data quality is apparent.

Apple has conceded that there are issues with Apple Maps, but its advice is to use other map applications as a workaround. Apple and workaround should not belong in the same sentence. Until they have a superior offering, they should reinstate Google Maps – eating humble pie with Google if necessary.

To me, the Apple brand used to mean “fantastic experience, worth the price”. Now Apple seems to care more about competing with Google than providing the best user experience for its customers. That’s not a philosophy I support. That’s the reason my long-awaited iPhone 5 is languishing unopened in its box and I have more inclination to send it back than to open it. If Apple announces iOS 6.1 with reinstatement of Google Maps, that might just restore my faith.

Update (6 Oct 2012): I’ve called Orange and cancelled my new contract. The iPhone 5 is being sent back unopened. Just need to work out how to remove iOS 6 from my trusty iPhone 3GS and revert back to iOS 5.1.1 with Google Maps and its beautiful integration with Contacts and Calendar. Orange put me through to a chap at Apple Support, who agreed that Apple Maps is bad but couldn’t help downgrade my phone. Best chance seems to be obtaining a different 3GS handset that hasn’t been upgraded and then restoring my data from a backup. When I bought the 3GS the Apple website claimed “Maps on iPhone combines everything you love about Google Maps with the accuracy of GPS and a built-in digital compass”. So the device I contracted with Orange for no longer lives up to the claims. Wonder if I can talk them into swapping my handset for one that’s still on iOS 5?!? What a load of faff to get back to maps that “just work”…

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