Like picking at a scab or peeling sunburned skin (and roughly as attractive) there's something addictive about the sheer awfulness of Apple Maps. Having already highlighted its total inability to perform the most basic function of an electronic map – finding places to within, say, five miles of their actual location – I couldn't resist going back to the Apple Store later the same day to document the visual quality of its maps. And because a picture's worth a thousand words, let's get straight to the results.
This is a busy little corner of my home town. On the left we see the Google Maps version from iOS5, and on the right the embarrassment that is the Apple Maps iOS6 version at its maximum level of detail. (The Google version also has a fantastically sharp Street View available.) If you're ever in Bathgate, by the way, Aldo's is the finest fish'n'chip shop in town. Not that you'd know it existed from Apple Maps.
I'd wondered how Apple Maps might do with a slightly more out-of-the-way location, so I tried a little town I know just north of Dingwall in the Highlands. Google Maps went straight there, but Apple Maps had never heard of it. After navigating myself there manually, the above image (again with Apple Maps at maximum detail, whereas the Google one still has several levels of zoom to go) showed just how much help an iPhone 5 will be in finding your way around the place.
I wanted to give Apple Maps a fighting chance, so my next stop was Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh. On the right, we have the maximum detail available of Princes Street Gardens, scene of last weekend's stirring rally for Scottish independence. Google, on the other hand, will let you zoom in so much closer that you can easily pick out the pattern on the tiles on the ground in front of the stage.
This one was an accident, and back at Apple Maps' ineptitude rather than its ugliness, but it was too good not to use. When trying to get back to Bath for another couple of pics I foolishly just typed "Bath" into the search box. Rather than picking out the famous Georgian city, Apple Maps decided that what I meant to look for was the home of a "B McPherson", who turned out to live halfway between Falkirk and Avonbridge in central Scotland. (Not all that far from "Beescraig Country Park", as it goes.)
On managing to get Apple Maps to understand where I wanted to go, I took a look at the city centre of my adopted hometown, in which for some reason it had decided to depict Westgate Street as a river with a bridge across it. Google had picked out a wide range of accurately-identified shops, whereas iOS6 could manage only five.
Of those, the Rat & Parrot has been through two changes of owner and name since it was called that, the Cadbury Coco House closed down maybe five years ago (I think it's now a Carphone Warehouse), and the Roundhouse pub – the pink wineglass at the bottom of the shot – has in fact been a Pret A Manger for probably around the same amount of time. (It's also located on the opposite side of the street, and about 50 yards further up. There are no drinking establishments on the left-hand side of the street, and never have been in the 21 years I've lived here.) It did get the Disney Store more or less right, though.
There's more, but you get the idea. Apple's only statement on the fiasco so far claims that user reports will correct the abysmally inaccurate/out-of-date placement of shops, restaurants, entire towns etc – that's right, YOU'RE going to have to do the richest company in the world's job for it, unpaid – but user reports aren't going to fix god-awful blurry monochrome maps that look like someone badly photocopied a photograph of a 1952 atlas taken through binoculars from a mile away during a thunderstorm. Those will be staying, for years, because Apple really, really loathes you.