‘Internal politics’ responsible for lack of iOS 8 Map updates

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While iOS 8 has seen tons of improvements — from FaceTime call waiting to the ability to purchase iTunes content using Siri — there’s one area that hasn’t seen a major overhaul: Apple Maps.

Although the new version of Maps does now offer vector maps and other improvements in China, as well as a feature designed to give owners the ability to add more indoor positioning data, this was reportedly nowhere near what Apple originally had planned for the next version of its mobile OS.

Over the past year we’ve reported on various map-related patents which seemed like they would land on iOS before long, related to innovations such as user customizable maps. There’s also been plenty of talk regarding major under-the-hood changes to improve map accuracy; adding more points of interest; overhauling labels to make locations like airports, highways and parks easier to find; changing the overall map interface to make it cleaner; and adding public transit directions.

So why didn’t anything like this happen? According to sources the problems may have been the result of internal politics and generally chaotic project management.

“Many developers left the company, no map improvements planned for iOS 8 release were finished in time,” one source told TechCrunch. “Mostly it was failure of project managers and engineering project managers, tasks were very badly planned, developers had to switch multiple times from project to project.”

Another source offered the view that, “I would say that planning, project management and internal politics issues were a much more significant contributor to the failure to complete projects than developers leaving the group.”

While Apple Maps is nowhere near the mess that it was in its earlier incarnations, and actually works fine in many situations, there is no doubt that this is an area Apple wants to focus on: particularly since the rival Google Maps app continues to get better and better all the time.

Hopefully we’ll see a big leap in quality going forwards, particularly off the back of recent developments like Apple’s acquisition of Spotsetter, which promises to make Maps more social.

  • William D

    Another reason to have stuck with Google Maps. If you cant deliver or commit to improvements, stick with something that the vast majority think is great!

    • http://www.designstrategies.com Len Williams

      You can still use Google Maps on the iPhone, so there’s no loss whatsoever. Get the Google Maps app and use it. However, there are all kinds of advantages to Apple having their own Maps development team. Remember that this is just one author’s speculation of what’s been going on at Apple. I have no worries with Apple Maps because they work flawlessly in Florida, and because Apple’s history tells me they’ll improve it even further as time goes on. Why continue to license Google’s maps, their chief competitor and the people who ripped off the entire idea and functionality of the iPhone for their Android OS?

      • aaloo

        Exactly. Google maps is available on App Store and better than it ever was.

        Google wanted user data and apple was refusing to hand that over in return for turn by turn GPS directions.

        Apple maps works flawlesslesly in my city. In an odd chance that it doesn’t find a point of interest, ten I just use the internet to get the address and paste it into the maps app.

        Knowing how heavily apple is invested in maps, I have no doubt that it’s going to keep improving.

      • William D

        It certainly doesn’t work well where i live now in France. Or where I lived up until a month ago (Brussels.. hardly a village..)

        Perhaps the new APIs will make Google Maps operate on a more level playing field than Apple Maps, because, frankly, Apple’s maps is a train wreck without public transport and can’t find anything i search for.

      • aaloo

        Yeah, I’ve heard it’s not as good outside North America. Hopefully it’ll get better. I can understand how annoying it must be.

      • William D

        They’d be welcome to add iRadio while they are at it to the some of us too ;)

      • Luis Tamayo

        No, you cannot “still use Google Maps” as before. When I ask Siri for directions, or look up a contact’s address or click on an address on a webpage, I do NOT get Google maps. I get Apple’s maps. Google maps (or any other competing map application) cannot be configured as the default. This is very frustrating as Apple’s maps do not work well for me.

        I do not like Apple’s maps application as compared to Google’s. It just isn’t as good for my needs. It has consistently given me poor directions. It consistently fails to find locations I am searching for. While it may improve it has been a while without visible progress.

        Not good enough when a better UI and product exists. Worse because I cannot return it as a default.

      • William D

        Google maps is not able to be used as a default app, with Siri etc

  • Jindrich Knejfl

    I don’t know. Honestly, I do not have any issues with Apple Maps. Whenever I feel like using Google Maps, I turn the app on…. and then it takes me 10 min to figure out how the app works. By the time I figure it out, I am already pissed off. Personally, I do not like the UI of Google map, and android in general. I am not saying that Apple is better or worse, I am just saying that I prefer the UI of Apple.
    When I went to NYC, I used an app specifically designated to public transport anyways. So, I do not even see the point for Apple to putting public transport in the app.

  • DarthDisney

    Ah Project Managers, fucking things up since IBM.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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