NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Apple has famously perfect pitch for what customers want. But one key new functional addition to the company’s iPhone 5 — a mapping feature designed by Apple that will replace Google Maps — seems to have bombed with some influential fans.
With the device set to make its official debut in stores on Friday, some are calling Apple’s map a “downgrade” from what was previously available on the iPhone through the company’s partnership with Google. Apple has stopped using Google Maps and also removed the built-in YouTube app from the newest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6. Mapping is a popular feature, so Apple had prepared its own replacement version.
But a number of prominent Apple fans are giving thumbs down to Apple maps. The Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg, considered by many to be one of the most influential technology writers in the country, called the maps app the “biggest drawback” he found with the software and a “step backward” for the iPhone. Josh Carr, another writer with a long association with Apple topics, noted that while Apple now uses someone else’s geographic database rather than Google’s, the former isn’t as good as the latter.
Tech writer and entrepreneur Anil Dash wrote that “Apple’s made a new product that actually is pretty, but dumb,” noting that the map software failed to find a prominent address in Manhattan. He also complained about the tool’s directions for drivers, alluding to a “level of unreliability that I never recall seeing from Google maps, even when it first launched.”
John Gruber, who writes the often insightful Apple-oriented Daring Fireball blog, pointed out that it’s impossible to know whether Apple decided to kick Google to the curb to own this part of its ecosystem as well, or if Google wanted to renew its license to Apple on terms that were unacceptable to the company.
To be sure, the iPhone 5, although not as innovative as some previous models, appears well on the road to being a commercial hit. Yet the early negative returns for its map suggests Apple may have to scramble to improve it, or find another solution altogether.
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