Google Maps

Users of iPhone 5 give Apple Maps application a failing grade

The iPhone 5 has a problem with geography, and the Diaoyus only appear on mainland phones

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 3:40am

Apple's latest smartphone, the iPhone 5, went on sale in eight markets around the world yesterday - including Hong Kong but not the mainland - attracting crowds of Apple aficionados.

Given the flaws in the Apple Maps application, which comes bundled with the new phone's iOS 6 operating system, it could be argued that they were lucky they already knew where the Apple stores were.

In Hong Kong, Apple fan Erwin Huang, who bought an iPhone 5 yesterday, said Apple's map app was much less detailed than Google Maps, which it has displaced. He said the names of many local buildings were not shown: "I see HSBC, but not Bank of China."

Anyone depending on the map would get lost, he said. As a remedy, he said he now opened Google Maps using his iPhone's Safari web browser.

Francis Fong Po-kiu, president of the Information Technology Federation, said he could not find Pacific Place or Taikoo Shing on Apple Maps on Thursday night. "The map directed me to Beijing on the first try," he said. "Then it showed no search results." However, improvements had been made yesterday, with both places shown properly.

Apple Maps has come in for criticism around the world for geographical errors, missing information, and because it lacks features that made Google Maps so popular, including public-transit directions, traffic data and street-view pictures.

Many users who downloaded Apple's iOS 6 software, released on Wednesday, took to Twitter and online forums to express their frustration at the glitches.

Users have created a Tumblr blog sarcastically dubbed "The Amazing iOS 6 Maps" to post screen shots of the errors.

Pictures showed the Norwegian town of Leknes in the Norwegian Sea and the entire town centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace in England, labelled a hospital.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said of the new service: "We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get."

Apple Maps has also sparked controversy on the mainland because of the way it handles the disputed Diaoyu Islands.

Xinhua assigned reporters around the world to check on the naming of the islands in the Apple Map app, and found they were only called the Diaoyus on mainland iPhones. The rest of the world was told they are the Senkakus, the name used by Japan, which also claims them.

Apple China did not respond to inquiries yesterday, but a phone operator at the Apple Store's customer service hotline on the mainland said she had received many phone calls about the Diaoyus over the past few days.

In Hong Kong, the islands can only be searched for as the Senkakus, but when the map is zoomed in they do not bear any name.