The faithful have dutifully lined up outside their favourite smart phone store and have laid down there hard-earned cash for the latest iteration known as the iPhone 5. Sales have been somewhat less than expected but that may have been due to the fact that the available number of units available was somewhat less the amount necessary for another record-setting opening day. In conjunction with the launch of the iPhone 5, Apple has released the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6. Those seeking to upgrade their older iPhones to this new release have experienced a less than stellar upgrade experience with download progress being best described as “glacial”.

Whether is’s a new iPhone 5 or an upgrade of an older 4 or 4S, there has been one common complaint: Maps. If you tuned in late, Apple in its wisdom decided that Google Maps weren’t good enough for iOS 6 ad decided to create their own mapping system. Whether this was an attempt to add one more proprietary feature to its ecosystem or simply because Google has now become a competitor in the tablet market with its Nexus 7, Apple’s maps are henceforth the native cartography application for iOS 6.

Even if one does not subscribe to the idea that Google Maps are the sine qua non of mapping applications, you will have to admit that they are pretty handy and pretty darn good. Given the Apple mystique that everything emanating from Cupertino is so darn good, one would expect that Apple’s maps would be  perfect – or nearly so – straight out of the box. According to users, that is definitely not the case. In the short time since Apple’s maps have burst on to the scene, there has been a steady litany of complaints that the maps are less than accurate with misplaced landmarks, wrong or missing addresses and bizarre image renderings. Apple has been compelled to defend its nascent mapping system by saying it’s a work in progress and will get better the more you use it. That is cold comfort if you’re looking for an address in Fort Lee. New Jersey and wind up in Wall Twp.

We have, of course, seen this before. When the Apple 4S came out, there were plenty of adverts touting Siri and implying that it was an electronic Jeeves with the wit of Stephen Fry. As it turned out, Siri was . . . well . .  challenged. A new and improved Siri was supposed to be part of iOS 6 though reports are few and far between at this point. Apple really didn’t talk much about Maps in the run-up to the iPhone 5 and it appears that relative silence was with good reason.

All this makes me less than enthusiastic about upgrading my iPhone 4 to the latest and greatest edition of iOS. For more on this story, see PC Magazine’s take on the issue.

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