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Apple Map app is getting a bad wrap

October 10, 2012 - Art Smith
There has been a lot of grumbling the last few weeks about the quality of maps in the latest release of Apples iOS6. From my perspective, things are actually better.

More accurately, from the perspective of those living in the Mid-Ohio Valley, the maps and the photos that are part of the system are in many cases better than the Google images they replaced.

The photos are sharper. Almost too sharp. I can clearly make out my mailbox in the photo of my house, something that is a blurry mess in most other map apps.

The photos in mapping software “wrap” around the known elevations to simulate the actually terrain. Since the electronic model for the terrain is based on the topographical data, it can play havoc with things like bridges. One of the complaints about the iOS6 maps is bridges look like they are falling into the bodies of water they are crossing. Not so here, where the Putnam Bridge in Marietta is correctly viewed as crossing the Muskingum, not floating on top of it. The Google Maps have a much more pronounced dip in the bridge as it crosses the river.

One of the features of the new map software is it brings 3D flyovers to the mobile devices for certain cities. Although they are not available for the Mid-Ohio Valley, the effect of the photo flyovers is nothing short of stunning.

The user cannot only view the top of buildings, but also all sides of them as well. With a flick of the hand the user can rotate an entire city block like it was a tiny scale model.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, apologized recently for the performance of the maps. I think the app got a bad wrap from a lot of people who never bothered to look at them side-by-side with what they replaced. They will get better, and I assume they will do so fairly quickly.

Judge for yourself. Here are two images, one from the new map app, and the other one from the old one that used Google for its images. Ironically, the photos used for the Google maps were slightly newer, having been taken when Marietta College’s Harrison Hall dorm was nearly completed. The Apple photos were taken a few months earlier.


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Google produced map image