iOS 6 is finally here officially. Most of the TiP crew has been running the beta versions throughout the summer, so we’ve got a good taste of what Apple has just unleashed on the public. Possibly the biggest new update was the Maps app. Apple got ballsy and cut as many ties as possible with Google by removing their much-used and much-loved Maps app complete with Street View and replaced it with their own design with Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Traffic updates, and 3D buildings.
Although I miss Street View, the new features and the satellite navigation are great to use. It does still feel a little beta-ish, but, nevertheless it’s great.
The standard view of the maps is fantastic. It’s simple, clean and easy to read. It means that roads are clear and it doesn’t take ages to download data when you’re on the road with nothing but an EDGE signal to go on. It’s when you switch to satellite view that the new program shows its Achilles heel. It’s shocking. Remember Google Earth the day it launched? Yeah, it’s worse than that. Cities become nothing but a blur of colors.
It does have a trick up its sleeve though: 3D. The new Flyover feature is great in the cities it works in. You can pinch to zoom in an out, or use two fingers to rotate around buildings. Once it’s available in the majority of cities, it’s going to be impressive, to say the least. Again, this lack of cities available (although still more than Google Earth’s options) combined with shoddy satellite images give this app its beta feel.
Wow! I’ve used countless different apps (free and paid), I’ve used Google’s maps, and Navigation on Android handsets like the One X, N1 and G2, but none of them comes close to how well this software performs. I used it during the summer in its beta form and was amazed at its speed and accuracy, even when there was little to no cellular network. I’ve paid almost £20 for CoPilot Live to have the maps on my iPhone’s memory, and even that was slower and less accurate. Also, you can save a lot of battery juice by locking your phone and viewing the instructions on your lock screen. This comes in incredibly handy when you’re on a long stretch of road and regular updates aren’t needed.
What got me was how quickly it refreshed my location on the road, it was almost in real-time. Every other product I’ve used has let me down one time or another in this regard, often leading to missed turns. Not once did I struggle with Navigation in the new Maps app. As I mentioned already, the design is so simple and clear, it’s hard to get it wrong. I can’t wait to see this software once it’s been around a few more months. Apple’s progress on this has been snappish.
Another handy feature, if you’re trying to get somewhere fast, the last thing you want is to be slowed down by traffic. iOS 6′s default maps app shows up to date information on building work, traffic, accidents etc. It’s really rather good.
The rest is rather dull and usual. Nothing that wasn’t there on the old one, just perhaps in a new form. You can select contacts to navigate to, or change your search options. You can select to change your view, drop a pin or even print using AirPrint.
All in all, it’s a great app with a lot of potential. But, rather like Siri’s launch last year, it doesn’t feel quite finished. If it was a piece of hardware, it’d be an iPhone with a loose connection and a dodgy headset jack. It’s not a complete product.