Why you shouldn’t count Apple’s Maps out just yet

The iOS 6 portion of Apple’s WWDC keynote last week was headlined by its all new mapping software. As predicted, the company unveiled a completely rebuilt Maps application with 3D city views and other features.

The app is available in the recently-released iOS 6 beta, and so far, it has yet to impress. On top of missing popular features like Street View and transit directions, it also appears to be missing a ton of street data.

But don’t count Apple’s Maps out just yet…

For full disclosure, I have been mulling over a post regarding my opinion on Maps for the past week now. I too haven’t been impressed with the application, as it has yet to locate my home address, among other quirks.

But it’s important to remember that Maps is still very much beta software. And perhaps nobody makes a better point of that than The New York Times‘ Quentin Hardy, responding to early criticism of its lack of data…

“Hold on there. Not only do Apple maps have months before they debut, Apple could, if it wanted to, come out tomorrow with much this information on the maps. All those street names and landmarks are part of what Apple licensed from TomTom, the Dutch company whose maps Apple was showing. For some reason, Apple apparently removed much data off the maps as a step to make something bigger.”

So why is Apple witholding all of this information? Hardy continues:

“Maybe it was skinning data off the map as a head fake, a way of lowering expectations Apple will then exceed. More likely, the company is still working out all sorts of different mapping images, which will change depending on whether the map is being used for shopping, social activity or navigation. Or perhaps it didn’t want developers to have many preconceptions about what a map should look like, so they invent new things.”

The bottom line here is that there are a number of reasons why Apple could be witholding data and other features from the Maps app in iOS 6 beta 1. And it’s never fair to judge beta software based on its content.

It’ll be interesting to see what Maps looks like when iOS 6 is released to the public this fall. With all of this talk of third-party app integration — think Foursquare, Facebook, Foodspotting, etc. — the possibilities are endless.

What’s your take on the new Maps application?