iPhone 5

Apple continues to rule with their beautifully industrial-designed hardware. Which is why people preordered online or waited for hours and days outside Apple and other reseller stores to get their hands on iPhone 5.

Whether it is the black-and-metal model or the white-and-silver alternative, iPhone 5 is to my mind the best designed smartphone on the planet bar none. Its thinness and lightness puts the iPhone 4s to shame. And until iPhone 5 came along, I would be willing to swear that iPhone 4S (and its close cousin iPhone 4) were the best designed smartphones on the planet. What a difference a year or two make.

While the critical acclaim to the hardware is not surprising, Apple is in rather unfamiliar territory when it comes to one major change in the software that runs on the iPhone 5. And this is the brand new maps application which Apple decided to put on the iPhone starting with iOS 6.

Prior to releasing the latest iteration of its mobile software, Apple had been bundling the more mature maps app from its biggest rival in the mobile space. Although that app had its shortcomings particularly when it comes to turn-by-turn directions now offered by Siri on the iPhone, Google maps has been around long enough to have a more complete set of data for widespread use.

One particular use case would be the transit directions that have now gone missing from the Apple maps app. It used to be part of the Google maps app on iOS. But now, Apple directs you to transit apps from third-party developers instead of including it in its own maps implementation.

The official reason is that it is better that way and it allows local developers to make better apps targeted to a specific audience. Although, another reason must be the complexity of integrating so many different transit authorities. Google has had plenty lead time in that regard and even then it has not always been smooth sailing for them either.

I personally have not had much trouble with the new maps application. Especially since it includes turn-by-turn with Siri. Google had been offering a similar feature to customers of its mobile software but that had not been available to iOS users.

Looks like Apple and Google could for whatever reasons not come to agreeable terms with regards to extending the contract of Google maps for iOS and so here we are with a well-designed Apple maps app. Be it one with some deficiencies in terms of the data.

As Apple says, things can only get better as more and more people use the new maps app. Let’s just hope these improvements happen quickly. And I am hoping developers will take advantage of the opportunity to make excellent transit apps to integrate with beautiful looking Apple maps.

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