One of the biggest features in Apple's new iOS 6 operating system for iPhones and iPads, released Wednesday, was the new Maps app. While Apple had relied on Google's Maps since the original iPhone, Apple released its very own mapping application with turn-by-turn navigation, traffic data, and 3-D imagery.
What has been the biggest complaint from those who updated to iOS 6 over the last 24 hours? The new maps.
Just look at the tweets with the hashtag #iOS6apocalypse on Twitter and the trend is clear. Many have reported misplaced towns and cities while others have tweeted photos of a jumbled Brooklyn bridge. There's even a new blog, The Amazing iOS 6 Maps, and a chain of complaints at Reddit.
The worst of the errors seem to be overseas. A map of London shows Aldwych Station, which has been closed since 1994. A search for Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace, returns nothing. And in Sydney, Apple's own store is on the other side of the street. (The Huffington Post U.K. rounded up these errors.) To add to all those, Ireland's Minister of Justice, Alan Shatter, has actually issued a statement about the misplacement of an airport in South Dublin.
In the U.S. there have been complaints about inaccuracies, but in our experience here in New York, the new app has been fairly accurate, routing us to work correctly and locating points of interest properly. Our bigger complaints come with the features that were lost with Google Maps, including no Street View.
Apple isn't staying silent on the matter, though, and maintains that the maps will get better with time. "We launched this new map service knowing that it is a major initiative and we are just getting started with it," Apple's Trudy Muller told ABC News.
"We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get. We're also working with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps in the App Store into iOS Maps. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better."
The maps, which Apple has had in the works for years, have been built with the help of other companies. TomTom, for instance, provides the map data and Waze provides some of the real-time traffic information.
"We supply maps and related content to the majority of handheld players, including RIM, HTC, Samsung, AOL (MapQuest Mobile), Apple and, yes, Google (for the areas where they don't make their own maps)," Lea Armstrong, a TomTom spokesperson, told ABC News.
"When people use a map, their experience is determined by two things. Firstly, the underlying content, notably the maps. This is what TomTom is currently supplying the mobile industry with, and it is what gives their maps the best foundation. Secondly, user experience is determined by adding additional features to the map application, such as visual imagery. This is typically defined and created by the handset manufacturers and third party software providers on the basis of their own vision and needs."
Google Maps has long been one of the most successful mobile and digital mapping systems, and the company has incrementally added features, including Street View, offline maps, and transit data. In June, just days before Apple announced its Map app, Google announced some new features, including improved 3-D and Street View features.
It's easy to see where Apple's inexperience in the area holds back its new app; it lacks, among other things, a Street View option and integrated, mass transit information.
Google wouldn't say if it plans to bring its Maps App to iOS 6 in Apple's App Store as it recently has with YouTube. However, they did say that iPhone users could open their browsers to reach the http://maps.google.com site, where there are access to directions, transit information, My Maps, search history and more.
"We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system," Google's Nate Tyler told ABC News.
Either way it's clear that the Apple vs. Google war is begging to affect consumers directly. "It is very clear at this point that Apple Maps is not living up to Google's on the iPhone," Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights, told ABC News. "Whether it is Apple's desire for control or a hard negotiating Google, users are caught in the crossfire. Like Apple's war on Android, this is yet another skirmish in the battle between Apple and Google and will not be the last."
Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, said that maps are at the front of the mobile battle. "One possibility may have been that, as Maps became more integral to other iOS components such as Siri and Passbook, Apple did not want to tip its hand to Google, which is now a handset operating system competitor, unlike when the iPhone was launched with Google Maps."
But all is not lost for new iPhone 5 users or those who have downloaded iOS 6. The App Store is chock-full of third-party navigation apps, including ones from Garmin, Telenav, and MapQuest.
And for those companies, which feared Apple's feared entry into the navigation market, Mapgate might not be such a bad thing after all. Well, at least until Apple listens to the feedback.