In the time leading up to Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, most folks believed that the company would make mention of its efforts to revamp iOS’s Maps app. Up until now, it’s been woefully inadequate, but reports pointed to signs that Apple would have something new to show off at WWDC this year. But when Tim Cook and Craig Federighi took the stage to unveil OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, there was nary a mention of the beleaguered digital navigation assistant. So what happened?
According to a post on TechCrunch, there are a few possible explanations for why Maps didn’t show up at WWDC, but one thing is clear: the company had intended a Maps-focused announcement, and scrapped it when the work wasn’t up to scratch.
According to one insider, problems arose due to a number of key developers leaving the project, resulting in the project not getting the attention it needed:
“Many developers left the company, no map improvements planned for iOS 8 release were finished in time. Mostly it was failure of project managers and engineering project managers, tasks were very badly planned, developers had to switch multiple times from project to project.”
But that isn’t the only explanation offered up by supposed Apple insiders. Another source offered up this reason for Maps’ failure to materialize by WWDC:
“I would say that planning, project management and internal politics issues were a much more significant contributor to the failure to complete projects than developers leaving the group.”
As with all things that have more than one explanation, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. My guess, however, is pretty simple: Apple might just not be as good at this as Google.
Google’s entire company was founded on creating the best way to find and present data to users. That mission first appeared as a search engine, and it has since evolved into a mobile operating system that has managed to rival Apple’s once dominant iOS. Google may not have any cartographic advantages over Apple in general, but Google’s entire reason for being is collecting and aggregating data into something coherent and cohesive. Apple is really good at user experiences, but if the data is flawed at the start, things might not work too well in the end. If Cook and company saw that its Maps efforts couldn’t compare to Google even after a few more years of development, it’s not surprising that he’d strike it from his presentation.
This is no slag against Apple – that company has created some of the most important devices and innovations of the last decade or so. But just as there are flaws in Android’s design that Apple manages to do better with iOS, mapping and navigation might be one area that Google is simply better. Maybe Tim Cook will realize this, scrap the whole enterprise, and just partner back up with its rival to give customers the best mobile mapping option out there.