Yesterday morning my wife, two kids and I departed our home to set off on a 350 mile journey down south, to the city of my birth. You’d think I’d know it quite well, if you didn’t know I’d moved away before I could even walk and only ever visited to see grandparents on summer vacations. Needless to say, I don’t know the roads down here at all.
The early part of our journey was easy, it was the last two hours that required a little more guidance. So, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to give the Siri-voiced Navigation feature a go. I had the CoPilot Live app as a backup, and if that failed I could resort to using Maps on my wife’s iOS 5 powered iPhone. Thankfully, I didn’t need either fail-safes.
Once you enter Navigation mode, the smooth animation takes you from a bird’s eye view, to a front facing one. The design is simple, crisp and sharp. I love the blue commands with stylish white typeface for a start. But it’s the app’s performance that really impressed me. With the Google powered Maps on all previous versions of iOS there was always a lag when it came to updating the real-time position. Motion was jerky, which often meant that I’d miss turnings on smaller roads. The new Maps has none of that. Motion is as smooth as driving, it seems to refresh instantly meaning that missed turns are a thing of the past.
To compare, I used Google Maps to get to a restaurant for breakfast this morning, and wouldn’t you know it, we did miss an exit at a roundabout. Thankfully, it didn’t take us miles off course, but it did highlight the difference in performance between the new Maps and the old. And it’s still in beta. In most cases the Google Maps has been okay, but, the new Maps is better. I’m not sure if the secret is that less data is being downloaded as you drive, or if the program itself is just inherently quicker. Whatever the reason, it leaves the old app eating dust.
I was among many that scoffed at Apple removing Google Maps as its default. Swapping Street View for a 3D service that only works in a miniscule percentage of cities seemed like a bum deal for the consumer. But, Cupertino historically changes things to make them better, not just to get one over on its competitors. Maps in iOS 6 is impressive. So much so, that I no longer have need for CoPilot: an app which cost me almost £20. And I dread using the previous native application.
If you’ve used the Navigation on the new Maps, what are your thoughts on it? If not, is it one you’re looking to or are there other, more important improvements in iOS 6? Tweet me: @TiP_Cam