Did Apple screw up with iOS 6 Maps? You bet they did and they’ve admitted it publicly. But let’s be clear about where the problem is. There are many gaps in the data iOS maps deliver but for many areas, such as the Bay Area where I live, I haven’t noticed any major issues. In fact, I’ve been using the maps app since the iOS 6 dev release and I’ve found the the turn-by-turn directions to be quite well designed.
What’s to like about the iOS 6 Maps design?
Turn-by-turn directions are well designed and if you happen to live in an area that’s well mapped, you might actually start to use them on a regular basis. Some of the things I like about Apple’s turn-by-turn design:
- Maps are vector based and render fast
- The perspective of the map is easy to read and maximizes your view of upcoming turns
- Streets are dynamically flagged as you approach, making them easy to read
- The big, bold “highway sign” at the top of the screen clearly tells you the next turn, how far away it is, etc.
- Turn-by-turn directions are visible from the lock screen
- Voice-over directions are superb. I literally drove from start to end on one trip without ever looking at the screen. The voice prompts are timed so well, that I never felt the stress of wondering if I would miss a turn. I can’t say the same for most other turn-by-turn voice instruction.
If you live in a major metropolitan area, you may find the maps app works just fine. If you’re in an area where the map data is weak or you’d just rather not risk it, there are plenty of alternative mapping apps that you can use, including Google Maps in your browser. My favorite alternative for turn-by-turn and traffic information is Waze.