On Wednesday, Apple released a software update for the iPhone that, among other changes, replaces the Google maps that have been on the phone since 2007 with Apple’s own maps. So far the feedback from reviewers and early adopters of the new software is that it is attractive but suffers from holes and glitches.
For example, some have found that searches for an in-town destination can pull up an entirely different city, and there is no built-in information about public transportation.
Apple’s previous versions of iOS, its mobile software system, included a Maps app that was made by Apple but powered by Google’s mapping service. In iOS 6, the latest version, Apple has replaced the old app with a new version that uses mapping data collected or purchased by Apple itself.
All iPhone users will continue to be able to reach Google’s mapping service through a mobile Web browser, a method that is somewhat clunky compared with an app. (The Google site prompts users to create a Google Maps icon that resides alongside app icons on the iPhone.) Users who choose not to upgrade to the new Apple operating system or buy a new iPhone will be able to keep using Google’s maps, and there is no indication that either Google or Apple will stop providing that service.
As more people use Apple’s maps, the company will learn how to improve them. There are 400 million devices running iOS, so it may only be a small matter of time before millions of people have the new maps. Over the next year or two, Apple’s maps should become as good as Google’s for most people, said Scott Rafer, chief executive of Lumatic, a company that has developed a transit app for iPhones.