Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apple's Rotten Move: Maps App Leaves Transit Users in Dark

For a company that prides itself on doing everything with the user in mind, early reports indicate Apple has cut corners with its new maps app:
[T]he new Apple Maps app does not have transit directions included in the app. The only directions it gives are driving and walking directions. If you click on the transit option for directions, Apple clicks you off to options for other downloading other apps to find transit directions. For people who use public transit as their daily way to get around town, this doesn’t help at all. Since maps are one of the most used apps on the smart phone, this is a major loss. Of course you can go and download another transit app. But that’s not the point. Apple is downgrading transit as a method of transportation.

So what Apple is saying is that if you’re an iPhone user, you better be a driver or a walker. As for public transit, not that important. Maybe Apple employees all drive to Cupertino for work? Or they catch a free company shuttle from San Francisco? Well, maybe it will be in the next update. Not very environmentally friendly for a company that prides itself on the clean-tech aspects of its manufacturing process.
As is usually the case, a product that ignores sustainability is probably a lousy product, and sure enough, early users think Apple Maps is an inferior product to Google Maps. For users, it's no big deal - just as Windows users once began downloading Firefox, Chrome and other browsers to replace the inferior Explorer, Apple mobile users will need to download a superior maps app. Hopefully, just as Explorer faced competition and improved, Apple Maps will do the same.

But looking big picture, this seems like a really dumb move for a company with $100 billion in cash, most of it stashed overseas to avoid taxes. Couldn't it have used a tiny fraction of that cash to build a kick-ass maps app that made getting around without owning a car easier than ever? What about including locations & availability for Zipcar and other car sharing services?

Unfortunately, Apple founder Steve Jobs never seemed interested in doing any good that didn't also make the company piles of cash. It looks like that trend continues here.
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