When iOS Maps was introduced at the WWDC keynote, it was a flawless presentation with maps described as beautiful, fun, gorgeous, and fast. At the time, the marketing page introduced the new iOS Maps with:
All of which may just make this app the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever.
The advertising industry has long used the word “may” to hedge any bets against the validity of what follows. And launch keynotes (watched and reported on a grand scale) are not where you reign in your enthusiasm.
However, unlike the mediocre, but much less maligned Siri, no label of beta was ever applied to Maps. There was no mention of “the more people use it, the better it will get”. It was all pomp and circumstance. And who doesn’t like to put a braggart to shame.
So, now we have a new sport. What’s wrong in your ‘hood? Can you get to the town where you grew up? Is the bridge I take to work melted, too? Is Google better at everything? All of which ads up to a mass of bad press and a cottage industry of Maps WTFs. Temper expectations, and this sport would be a footnote.
And the internet meme machine drowns out all perspective. If you hear about Maps as a casual listener, you’ll never hear that Google Maps is also really inaccurate. That the searches for Google and Apple are different, Google favouring volume over accuracy. That sometimes Apple Maps offers better results than Google. A little humility, and these stories would be just as important as the Apple Maps roadkill.
Apple figured this out way too late, of course. Perhaps out of stubbornness, or embarrassment, there was no beta notification announced post blustery keynote. No mention of differences or improvements to be made. Instead, the launch of iOS 6 happened with expectations set unrealistically high. Over promised, and undelivered.
And now we have a public apology, pundits calling for an executive’s head, and alternatives being promoted by Apple. All to save face because the most successful company in the world forgot they’re supposed to wow us when we don’t expect it; not tell us to be wowed.
And now the marketing site reads in a dull, flat tone:
All in a beautiful vector-based interface that scales and zooms with ease.