Mapmakers are competing for your smartphone

WHAT IS A map? “There are two things you want,” says Peter Birch, product manager for Google Earth. “One is to find your way…how do you remove all the information except [what] you really need to answer your question?” The other is the “opposite of the cartographic aim: to create a sense of reality, a completely comprehensive representation of the world.”

To do the first, you have to do the second. So that anyone can find precisely what he is looking for, he must be able to look for anything. Google’s plan for the physical realm, in other words, is the same as for the digital one: “to organise the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful”. It wants to map every last hiking trail and park bench, and then make it easy to find.

The latest version of Apple iPhone software iOS6 has been out for only a few days, but the web is already full of users voicing their disappointment about map inaccuracies and the lack of transit mode and, last but not least, a bug in the compass function that send you the opposite way when you are looking for a direction on the map.

Mashable reported that Apple spokesperson Trudy Miller released a statement in response to the negative feedback: “We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.“

On Friday Apple finally decided to react to the tsunami of complaints and bad reviews about the new version of its Map product in iOS 6.

CEO Tim Cook wrote on the Apple website:

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.“

Following the failure of the launch of Maps for iOS 6 by Apple (read here) many have turned their eyes to Google to see when they would launch their own iOS app to mitigate this problem.

At the end of last week Google came back with an answer that is not what’s iOS users where expecting. In a blog post Google indeed announced that Street View will be available on Google Maps for the mobile browser, an announcement clearly intended for Apple customers. It also added “transit, driving, biking and walking directions continue to be available on your mobile browser to help you help guide you to your destination.“