Limited manpower blamed for crappy Apple Maps

By , Sep 21, 2012

In case you haven’t already known this yet, the Apple-designed iOS 6 Maps app is off to a slow start amid reports of inaccurate data sets, missing or incorrect places, lack of built-in transit data and lacking navigational features in general. Simply put, Apple Maps have a long way to go before taking Google Maps head on.

According to one cartography expert, much of the woes with Apple Maps could be traced back to Apple’s lack of qualified engineers and spatial data teams. The company should also look into acquiring major mapping data providers and be more active in crowdsourcing via a dedicated service to allow people to more easily improve the quality of data, akin to TomTom’s MapShare service…

All of the above are valid points, cartography expert Dr. Mike Dobson explains in a lengthy post on his personal blog (via 9to5Mac).

He warns that “Apple does not yet understand what a headache it will be to integrate the information from these three disparate sources”.

Lack of manpower is at the heart of Apple’s problems, he claimed, making it clear in no ambiguous termas that Apple lacks the “resources to provide the majority of geospatial and POI data” it needs.

Apple does not have enough qualified people to fix this problem and needs to hire a considerable number of talented people who have the right credentials. They, also, need to develop a QA/QC team experience in spatial data.

Not to worry, Apple’s already on it.

At the time of this writing, Apple’s Jobs page listed vacancy spots for 3D flyover modelers, a Map Display team engineer and other software engineers to help fix “performance bottlenecks” and 3D rendering issues such as one shown below.


Screenshot via AppleInsider.

Dr. Dobson also mentions that Apple needs to get active in crowdsourcing. Maps in iOS 6 tap crowdsourced knowledge for traffic intelligence, but that’s just tip of the iceberg.

They must find a way to harness local knowledge and invite their users to supply local information, or at least lead them to the local knowledge that is relevant.

This could be accomplished by setting up a service similar to Google Map Maker. However, it could also be accomplished by buying TomTom, and using its MapShare service as part of the mapping application to improve the quality of data.

The expert goes on to speculate that Apple could snap up smaller companies that integrate mapping and search services into applications for use by telephone carriers, like Telenav (industry leader Telmap is now owned by Intel)  or ALK, “now being run by Barry Glick who founded MapQuest”.


Though it looks better than Google’s, Apple’s new mapping service in iOS 6 can be quite messy when it comes to navigation and location accuracy.

Responding to a flurry of widespread criticism surrounding its homegrown mapping service, Apple said yesterday that the iOS 6 Maps experience gets better as more people use it.

Apple partners with dozens of third-party providers for the various aspects of its mapping service, including TomTom, DigitalGlobe, InterMap, LeadDog, Waze, Russia’s Yandex and China’s AutoNavi, to name a few.

Waze CEO Noam Bardin asserted in an interview with Business Insider that the unsatisfactory Maps experience is a result of Apple’s determination to nuke Google Maps out of orbit in iOS 6:

Apple went out and partnered with the weakest player. They’re now coming out with the lowest, weakest data set and they’re competing against Google, which has the highest data set.

“The weakest player” here is Waze’s rival TomTom, mind you.

What’s going to happen with the Apple maps, is that you’re literally not going to find things. When you do find them, they might be in the wrong place or position geographically. And if you do have it, the route to it may not be the optimal route.

To this, TomTom responded in a statement to MacStories:

When people use a map, their experience is determined by two things. Firstly, the underlying content, notably the maps. This is what TomTom is currently supplying the mobile industry with and it is what gives their maps the best foundation.

Secondly, user experience is determined by adding additional features to the map application, such as visual imagery. This is typically defined and created by the handset manufacturers and third party software providers on the basis of their own vision and needs.

And the plot thickens.

Here’s Jeff’s quick video demonstration of iOS 6 Maps.

As for crowdsourcing, a handy guide Cody did explains how to report problems with Apple Maps.

The word on the street has it that Google submitted a native Maps iOS app and now expects Apple to approve the software by Christmas. If our poll is an indication, you are overwhelmingly looking forward to it.

Are sub-par Apple Maps a deal breaker to you?

Anyone passing on iOS 6 until Google delivers the native iOS Maps experience?

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  • Drbballwater

    So Apple is focused on hiring to fix the 3D rendering in Flyover, – the most functionally useless part of the entire app. What about location accuracy, business listings, proper routing, etc?? Apple needs to hop on the Priority train – if they can find the station…

  • http://twitter.com/doubleaa25 Adham

    Apple’s press release statement said that they will depend on crowdsourcing to fix up maps via reported problems, etc.

    This is a start to making the maps up more accurate and have much more valid information, but they need to start hiring some map individuals as stated in the article to really speed up the process as well as make it more accurate.

    • @dongiuj

      They should have had the right staff in the first place. They should have been a lot more open and honest about the whole idea and user experience in the first place. But then again why would they, it’s apple.

  • http://twitter.com/2morebatteries AAAA

    Another beta application launched on the iPhone by Apple. Last year, it was Siri, this year it’s Apple Maps, I wonder what kind of beta software they’re cooking up for next year.

    • @dongiuj

      It will be the actual phone itself next year. It will be just a shell.

      • MagicDrumSticks

        There already is one. It’s called iPhone 5

  • jose castro

    i thought they partnered with tomtom?

  • http://www.facebook.com/walter.vanbergen Walter van Bergen

    I really can’t understand why the maps is such a disaster. They partnered with TomTom the worlds leading navigation solution who also owns Teleatlas. Teleatlas was the company that provided data to Google maps for a long time and it was working perfectly fine back then. How the hell could Apple screw up their maps big time when they have loads of good data that comes from their partners. I can think of one thing only and that is they don’t actually use the Teleatlas data but made some cheap arrangements with TomTom and started from scratch. Probably they didn’t want to license expensive maps but wanted a perfect with maps they create themselves. Well guess what. Maps are tricky business

    • @dongiuj

      “I can’t understand why the maps is such a disaster”
      Because it doesn’t work and apple are using it as a selling point, oh and it’s crap.

    • hmmm

      Walter… TOMTom is bottom of the barrel for mapping…lol
      C3 was nokias innovation release to the public ( yes they are allowed to steal that I guess)
      the big guns in mapping dont want to have anything to do with apples solution- why.. Oh.. give me all you good ideas for free so I can make more money and you less? There is going to be a massive backlash against apple and its just starting. The smartphone/phone industry before apple was well behaved and most licensed without issue. If you need someone to blame have a look when the problems started?

  • @dongiuj

    There you have it, straight from the horeses mouth. A Dr.
    I have a taxi service but my car doesn’t work. Oh wait a minute, if you help me get it running for me i’ll take you wherever you need to go and charge you top price for the service too.