There has been a lot of talk about the very public failure of Apple Maps on iOS 6 and what isn’t working with the iPhone 5, but there are also many promising features in the new phone. Gadget expert Phil Baker test drives the latest model and offers his report.
I was in Napa last week and tried out the new Apple Maps on my iPhone 5 to find the southernmost road to get from Highway 29 to the Silverado Trail, both of which are major roads. I was surprised to find the Silverado Trail missing from the map. Cross roads that seemed to lead nowhere were faint white lines on a cream-colored background and impossible to discern. Later that evening I tried the new turn-by-turn spoken directions to go from San Rafael to a restaurant at Pier 1 ½ in San Francisco. It directed me to a location about a half-mile away, far from the pier. I resorted to using my wife’s iPhone 4 to get to the restaurant.
When you upgrade to a new product, as millions of iPhone users have been doing, you expect everything to work better or, at least, not worse. While that’s true with just about every new feature of the iPhone 5, the map feature is the serious exception. Apple has discarded Google Maps for its own version, one that’s fraught with errors and missing many features we’ve come to expect such as directions by public transportation and street views. It does add turn-by-turn spoken directions, but it directed me to the wrong destination.
The current workaround is to use Google Maps with the Safari browser, Waze, or the Bing search app with a mapping feature. But many Apple apps are linked to Apple Maps so that’s not an entirely satisfactory solution. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, offered an apology and suggested using some of the alternatives noted above.
Fortunately, the maps seem to be the only flaw in the new iPhone 5. In other regards, the new phone is gorgeous; it’s precision constructed of aluminum and glass, and beautifully finished like an expensive watch.
There’s no plastic as there is on other phones such as the Samsung Galaxy III. You really have to pick it up and use it to appreciate the aesthetic improvements.
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