Monday, September 24, 2012

iOS 6 Maps fix coming: Apple recruiting Google Maps developers

It didn't take long for Apple to realize its iOS 6 Maps implementation was shoddy and missing functionality. The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant has begun trying to rescue its service, by recruiting ex-Google Maps staff.

The iOS 6 Maps implementation, whether on the brand-new iPhone 5 or earlier models, has been criticized (and that's being nice) over its failed implementation. While it works in part, bad map data, poor directions, and strange visual glitches, as well as lost Street View and transit routing features have users up in arms.

A former Google Maps contractor, speaking to TechCrunch, says that Apple is in hot pursuit of Google Maps employees, specifically those who helped develop the Internet giant’s Maps product as contractors. According to the report, many am amenable to an opportunity to work on a nascent product, despite its currently flaws, rather than maintenance and updates on a product that is mostly complete.

"Many of my coworkers at Google Maps eventually left when their contracts ended or on their own accord. One guy looked around for other GIS work and ended up at Apple when a recruiter contacted him. He had heard rumors for a while that Apple was going to develop its own in-house mapping platform, and given his experience at Google, he was an easy hire.

"Apple went out of their way to bring him down to Cupertino and he’s now paid hansomly as a GIS Analyst. Another coworker that was a project lead at Google Maps, left for the East Coast after his contract ended, and was recently contacted by an Apple recruiter. The position sounds like a product development manager position, and will pay him $85k+ and all the moving expenses from the East Coast. He’s gone through 2 rounds of interview and seems like a frontrunner to land that position.

"Apple has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to build a robust mapping platform to counter Google Maps, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s going out of its way to lure former and current Google Maps employees. At Google Maps, we know what data’s important, rendering priorities, keyword searches, and how the user experience is suppose (sic) to be. However, Apple needs to find a way to get its own 5 million miles of street view data, partner with the right folks, and spend a fortune on licensed data – which it can."

In other words, Apple is fully capable of updating its Maps app - really, finishing it - and has the money and wherewithal to do so.

In addition to this report, it's also true that if you search for Maps on Apple's jobs web site, you can find a number of positions with the label "iOS Software Engineer - Maps."

What wasn't addressed in the report, though, is time. None of these corrections will happen quickly, despite what people may think of Apple's development and infrastructure resources.

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