App developers not happy as Apple Maps mess mars iPhone release

While hundreds of people may have queued up for the iPhone 5 this morning, there are an equal number lamenting Apple’s changes in its latest update to iOS 6 – and developers are warning it could have an impact on their marketing.

 

But it’s not just developers. Small businesses should be concerned about the new maps switch, given the business listing data is now being sourced from different places – and that means some SMEs might not be in the app at all.

 

Apple has ditched Google’s Maps application for its own, home-grown app – and users and developers alike are questioning the switch.

 

“It’s obviously not as good as Google Maps, which is unfortunate because the rest of iOS 6 is very good,” Bjango chief executive Marc Edwards told SmartCompany this morning.

 

Google Maps is the default application for navigation on smartphones and desktops. The search giant’s years of accumulating data and information has resulted in one of the best apps in the world, and without that experience Apple is on the back foot.

 

As a result, Apple’s Maps app is missing information on roads, places of interest, and even businesses – which is a huge blow for SMEs that rely on Google Maps searches for leads.

 

Google sources its data from business listings, which means many SMEs already have a listing in Google Maps. Now the default app has been switched, many of those places are missing, so businesses could be missing out.

 

At this stage there is no app available for Google Maps.

 

Edwards says the ability for users to report inaccuracies will help the maps get better, but that may take more time than Apple can afford.

 

“There is apparently a really good supporting system, so that can help.”

 

“The maps are bad. But the real question is how will they be in 100 days’ time?”

 

Patrick Fitzgerald, head of product development at Sportsmate, says given the access of data has switched from True Local to Yelp, the directories seem “very thin”.

 

Google has an entire team dedicated to Maps and has years of experience. Given this headstart, Fitzgerald says Apple will need between 12 to 18 months to even think about catching up.

 

But the other problem is the App Store.

 

The redesign now means users search through apps one at a time, rather than through a list. It is supposed to integrate features Apple bought through app discovery company Chomp last year.

 

But it means app developers now have to think more about so-called “app store optimisation”. They need to make sure their apps are found as quickly as possible, as they won’t show up in lists anymore.

“I guess it feels less weighted towards indie developers, so it’ll take longer for new apps to break in. We’re a small development studio, and we’re not going to have billboards advertising our apps, so that discovery is essential to us.”

 

“It looks nice, but it just seems discovery is that much harder.”

 

This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

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