Apple maps get own store's address wrong in HK

Stefan Hammond/Computerworld Hong Kong
26 Sep 2012

Many Windows users use Windows XP, although Microsoft has made it clear they will stop supporting that OS in the near future. Nostalgia?

I got a taste of OS-nostalgia when I “upgraded” to Apple's iOS 6 for my iPhone 4 last week. Although Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn't been accused of rage-filled chair-smashing (an alleged Steve Ballmer moment) over competition from Google, Apple tries to edge out competitors. Sometimes it's unsubtle, like a battalion of lawyers launched against Samsung. But sometimes there's a defter touch, like the substitution of Google Maps, a longtime iPhone favorite, for Apple's own app, which is simply called Maps.

a site that allows users to upload their own images of Maps-errors

Here's a classic example of Google vs Apple in Hong Kong


The US-centric approach is one that's dogged Apple since their first release of the iPhone in 2007: the phone was “locked” so it only worked with the USA's AT&T carrier. Nonetheless, an estimated half-million iPhones were “jailbroken” and in use on the mainland before Apple released the first non-USA-approved iPhone in 2008.

And as a longtime Mac and iPhone user, I wish I could “downgrade” to iOS 5. Google Maps was a mission-critical app for me: there were times when, running late for an appointment, I could fire up the app, spot my own location, and suss out the correct route on unknown Hong Kong streets.

As I switched to iOS6, I'm now forced to use Maps, which frankly looks like a beta release. According to CNN, “within minutes of the new software launch on Wednesday, iPhone users began to point out that a number of landmarks had been misplaced on Apple maps, incorrectly named and lost entirely...Many customers say they are upset that Apple has removed mentions of public transportation routes or stations from its new map service, a popular feature on the Google system which allowed users to see bus and train schedules at individual stations.”

It gets worse closer to home. In Macau, for example, Google Maps listed major streets under their Portuguese names and Chinese names—romanized Portuguese street signs showed me the way, while Chinese characters worked for taxi-drivers. Apple's version? Chinese-only...useful for taxi-pilots assuming I can figure out where to point. As for Hong Kong, street-names are in English-only: not helpful if you don't read Chinese and your taxi-driver doesn't know the English street-name.

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