By Jim Karpen on Fri, 09/28/2012
Usage of Apple's new Maps app is way down, as users switch to alternatives out of frustration with the problems they're having with it. Earlier today Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized in an open letter: "At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better." He explains just what the rumors have said: that the only way Apple could offer important features such as voice integration, turn-by-turn directions, and vector maps was to develop their own app. And he emphasized again that the more people use it, the better it will get.
And he even went so far as to recommend free alternatives available in the App Store: Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, as well as suggesting using Google's or Nokia's web apps via the browser on your device. And he links to instructions for creating an icon on your home screen for their web apps.
MapQuest has voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions, with the current version averaging 4 stars in the App Store. Other features include gas prices, live traffic cams, walking directions, multiple-stop routes, and more. The app is completely free: no upgrades or trial period or anything. There doesn't appear to be an iPad-specific version.
Some of the reviews criticize MapQuest's local search, so Bing might be a better solution for that. Bing is Microsoft's search engine app, and has a wealth of features, including maps and and walking, transit, and driving directions. There are versions for both the iPhone and iPad.
Waze is interestingi in that it's a crowd-sourced app. It's a community-based app with 20 million users who provide real-time road and traffic alerts. It offers voice-guided navigation and rerouting as traffic conditions change. Community members actually help to update the maps. This is by far the most highly rated of the three apps recommended by Cook. It's a univeral app, for both iPhone and iPad.
Another excellent alternative is Nokia's web app. Access it by pointing your mobile browser at m.maps.nokia.com. A great article on BusinessInsider walks you through using the app, and says that it's second only to Google's Maps app. It has strong local search features, as well as walking and transit directions. Similarly, you can use Google's online maps as an option. AppleInsider has a separate article that walks you through putting Google's web app for maps on your home screen. According to TheMacObserver, Google is even bringing StreetView to their iOS web app.
Here's the full letter from Tim Cook:
To our customers,
At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.
We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.
There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.
While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.
Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.