Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Developers say we warned Apple about iOS maps quality

They say they filed bug requests, sent e-mails to specific Apple employees, and vented on message boards only other developers and Apple could see.
"I posted at least one doomsayer rant after each (developer) beta, and I wasn't alone," a developer with three iOS apps in the App Store said. "The mood amongst the developers seemed to be that the maps were so shockingly bad that reporting individual problems was futile. What was needed wasn't so much an interface for reporting a single point as incorrect, but for selecting an entire region and saying 'all of this -- it's wrong.'"
"During the beta period I filed bug reports with Apple's Radar system (notorious for being ignored), posted on the forums several times, and e-mailed multiple people within Apple's MapKit team to voice our concerns," a developer said.
"This has been a frustrating experience for us and we don't care where the imagery comes from, we just would like our customers to be able to have the same experience within our app when they update from iOS 5 to iOS 6," the developer added. "Instead, the OS upgrade broke some of the features we built within our application despite being told that only the imagery would be swapped out."
Threads on Apple's developer forums described some of the problems that appeared well ahead of the final version of the software, and they still existed when Apple shipped it,developers said.
"I think if Apple really wanted to go down this path, then they should have given themselves a year to get everything right," said a developer who makes an application that lets users bookmark locations. "In that time, they could have offered their own maps as the default, but allowed users and developers the option to use Google Maps as an alternative."
"I don't have a great answer unless [customers] did certain technical procedures before upgrading to 6, of which most people don't do those or jailbreak their phone," the developer added. "I would prefer to spend my time on improving something instead of dealing with problems like this. An option would have been nice."
Developers say that when the first beta version of iOS 6 was released, the satellite images developers could use could only be zoomed to 17, whereas in iOS 5 it was 19. To put that in perspective, it's like seeing the one-third of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, versus the whole thing while looking at it from above. This week Apple bumped it up to 18 for developers, and 19 within its own maps app. That ends up being a critical distance for apps that used imagery for measurement, or for precise location tracking, one developer said.

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