A View from Alexander George
While Apple Apologizes, Google Maps the Ocean Floor
As its rival flounders, Google is rapidly improving its mapping tech.
There’s no one left to defend Apple Maps. Even CEO Tim Cook has issued a formal apology for the app’s issues, which include irrelevant search results, transplanted state capitals, and melting bridges.
As urbanites have noticed, too, Apple Maps has no routing for public transportation, instead redirecting users to a third-party app like HopStop. And perhaps the most condemning and hilarious feature is the simple fact that even the app’s icon displays an impossible traffic maneuver. To make the turn, one would need to drive off the side of a bridge. Desperation has left iOS 6 users clamoring for Google to release a downloadable version of its app.
Google has confirmed that it’s working on a map app to submit to the App Store that will be available in several months. But it’s also improving Google Maps.
Google and Apple were partners since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, which featured Google Maps as a flagship application. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said of the split, “We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know?” Schmidt added: “We want them to be our partner. We welcome that. I’m not going to speculate at all what they’re going to do.” He gave these comments while in Tokyo, where he demonstrated new features on Google Maps using a Nexus tablet, one of which allows users to adjust their view of an area by tilting the device, without touching the screen.
Google also recently expanded its coverage to include not only streets, earth, and outer space, but now, the ocean floor. Google Maps teamed with Catlin Seaview Survey to create an underwater tour of the Great Barrier Reef. The images—or, their misnomer, “Street Views”—were taken using the SVII camera, which captures 360-degree shots underwater every three seconds while traveling a little over two miles per hour. Each capture gets a geo-tag, which allows the diver to recapture a shot from the exact same location helping to spot changes in the reef structure. The entire contraption is controlled by a tablet, which means the housing can stay entirely enclosed and tweaked remotely.
Underwater mapping might not be that useful for most iPhone5 owners, but still, it shows how far Google is pushing ahead with its mapping technology.