Mobile Technology

Apple reportedly using its retail employees to improve iOS 6 Maps data

Apple reportedly using its ret...
Apple Store employees may be hitting the maps soon (digitally altered)
Apple Store employees may be hitting the maps soon (digitally altered)
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Apple Store employees may be hitting the maps soon (digitally altered)
Apple Store employees may be hitting the maps soon (digitally altered)
Will Geniuses be piloting Apple Street View cars? (digitally altered)
Will Geniuses be piloting Apple Street View cars? (digitally altered)

Apple got itself in a pickle with iOS 6 Maps. After ending its mapping relationship with Google, the company put together its own backend to Maps, only to have it universally panned. Misplaced landmarks, missing towns, and melted bridges are some of the more egregious examples of the app's shortcomings.

After CEO Tim Cook apologized to customers, it appears that Apple is trying a novel approach to the problem. MacRumors reports that the company is trying to improve the mapping data by tapping into its army of nearly 40,000 Apple Store employees.

Details are scant on Apple's methods, but participating stores will reportedly commit 40 hours of weekly staff time to the project. They will "manually examine" their respective areas' mapping data, and submit corrections to an internal Apple database.

Smart, but will it be enough?

Will Geniuses be piloting Apple Street View cars? (digitally altered)
Will Geniuses be piloting Apple Street View cars? (digitally altered)

Could using Apple Store employees be a stroke of genius? Unlike past issues Apple has faced (like antennagate or MobileMe), Maps' problems can't be fixed from an office in Cupertino. The data will improve gradually as more iPhone owners use iOS 6 Maps, but Apple would love to expedite that process. With nearly 400 retail stores spread across the globe, this approach could cover a lot of ground.

Apple still has its hands full with Mapgate, and it isn't clear whether creative solutions like this will change that. In the meantime, those having problems with iOS 6 Maps can try App Store alternatives like Waze or Mapquest, or simply use Google's HTML5 web app.

What do you think? Will an army of Geniuses significantly help Apple's Maps fiasco? Or is the problem too big for short-term results? Let us know in those comments!

Image elements sampled from Wikimedia Commons [1] [2] and Apple

Dave MacLachlan
If you have a spare moment and access to Google Earth, check out Pittsburgh, PA. Look for a large, dome-shaped structure. If you look at the roads around it, they're all warped - they appear to have been left out in the sun too long and are melted. Also, the dome shape hasn't been there for several years.
40°26'28.35" N 79°59'32.53" W
As to having the Apple Store employees work on improving the accuracy of their maps? Great idea if it's true!
Rami De Graët
This is sad..... I hope it works out well for all those iPhone users. I don't know what I'd do without Google Maps app on my SG2. I'm not certain this solution would be the answer to their troubles.
Paul Nel
The problem really lies in those remote areas where there are no Apple stores. And contrary to what Apple clearly believes, there are quite a number of these areas. Especially outside of the America.
And the biggest problem is? STREET VIEW.
Without including street view in the new map it is doomed to failure.
Stefaan van Damme
Hmm, what I don't understand is that errors could easily be corrected by crowd sourcing. As apple suggested in the first place. Why isn't there an easy button 'add place' in the apple map app? Why aren't these maps not easily accesible online (in the same way Google maps are)? I don't see any crowdsourcing correction happening...
Island Architect
My daughter started exclaiming with glee about the new maps so I had to take a look. Sure enough, it is a lot nicer than the Google Maps from before.
So I checked the viciously vaunted Central Park and look at how wonderfully it is rendered.
S it looks to me that the haters have perpetrated some awfully nasty stuff. It most certainly isn't mapgate, it's hatergate.
Gregory Minor
Biggest thing that I miss is street view.. other than that the turn by turn directions are great! The interface is easier to use. It looks better and works for me.. Thankfully I have not had one issue with the new maps app and I dont think I will. Why such a big deal? Because when you are at the top, everybody is trying to knock you down
Bob Lindstrom
This sounds like a good idea, until they have to close all the Apple Stores because employees using iOS 6 Maps can't find their way to work.
I have been on Macs since they came into being and wanted to have an IPhone. I am an Android user because Apple made an exclusive deal with AT&T. Getting rid of GoogleMaps, not because Apple had something better (clearly), but because they wanted their own turf, was a decision that reflects a greater concern with stockholders than with customers. It is not endearing and it has come back to bite them justifiably. I still love Macs and own three at present, but the emerging philosophy of the company is troubling.