Apple CEO Tim Cook recently apologized for the failure of Apple Maps, admitting that the company “fell short” of fulfilling their promise to make “world-class products.” In the letter, though, there was no mention as to how exactly Apple plans on fixing the Maps issues, and he didn’t indicate just how big of a job updating the app will be, which according to experts, is huge.
Technology Review recently spoke with a number of mapping experts to get an idea of just how long it will take Apple to bring Maps up to the level of Google Maps. The answer? There’s no quick fix and “the scale of the problem — particularly, the millions of errant labels on points of interest like business — requires new data sources and easier ways to contribute fixes, as well as enough willing map-fixers in geographically dispersed regions.”
Technology Review found that Apple’s biggest problem is their current strategy of relying primarily on Maps users’ reports of mistakes they find. Apple doesn’t have anything like Google’s Map Maker, a browser-based tool that lets people edit map features on Google Maps.
According to Michael Dobson, the president of mapping consultancy TeleMapics, Apple needs to seriously increase its mapping staff, since he believes Apple only has a couple hundred people working on it, compared to Google’s 7,000 plus people working on its Maps application.
Apple also lacks a fleet of cars like Google, which have been used to log five million miles worldwide to date. Apple Maps has more than one issue, but the biggest problem seems to be with points of interest. Apple’s strength has always been its ability to make things simple. Schuyler Erle, digital mapping expert and coauthor of Google Maps Hacks, argues that “that’s what Apple does — their premise is making rock-solid reliable technology and making it easy to use” and that’s what is needed now: a super-simple editing interface.