iOS6 Maps and the Cayman Islands / by Paulo Fierro

So iOS6 is now officially released so we can talk about it. We've been using it since WWDC in June and in general there's so much to like in this release. The one thing that is still lacking is mapping data.

Having used the beta while we were in California I know first hand how great the maps can be. Turn by turn navigation when driving from San Francisco to Las Vegas worked well and the maps were pretty detailed showing local businesses, restaurants, etc. Once you leave the US however, the mapping data is substantially worse, with the exception of a few 3D flyovers.

There's been a lot of noise on Twitter and people holding out on buying a new phone or upgrading until this is fixed. The good news is that this is all on the backend so Apple can roll out improvements behind the scenes and most likely not require us to do anything.

Most of the complaints I've seen however still have some data visible to them. Maybe not all that accurate, but something.

However here on Grand Cayman the Maps app has gone from useful to completely useless. On the left is a screenshot of iOS5 that has roads and place marks – directions work too. On the right is iOS6 that shows a place mark for the airport and otherwise a lot of sand. Directions do not work.

They replaced our roads with sand. Thankfully we got to keep the airport.

The satellite view isn't as bad, but quite cloudy and the more you zoom out the more the clouds appear.

Satellite view

There is also something weird that happens to the shape of the island around the middle right.

Strange shape morph

This appears to be because they draw the outline based on existing data. As you get closer you get to that location in satellite view you can see a bad stitch job between what I assume are two different data providers. The image on the right is basically black and white.

Weird stitch job

In any case, I look forward to the day when the maps here are as gorgeous as they are in San Francisco. No doubt the Maps team in Cupertino are quite busy and we're not very high on the list of priorities but hopefully we'll see something soon.

Update: Haha! My buddy Peeks just let me know that the image I submitted to "The Amazing iOS6 Maps" Tumblr made it onto :)

Update #2: And TechnoBuffalo. And CNET. And Jest. And Broadband Reports. And Droid Life. And Huffington Post.

Update #3 (June 24, 2013): I just had a look and to my surprise we now have a road!



Update #4 (April 18, 2016): Not sure when this happened, but Maps seems to have been updated and looks like we now have all our roads and directions seem to work too! Amazing! And all it took was 4 years 😎