Monday, September 24, 2012

Where in the World is Mary Grace? (Or, why Apple Maps makes the iPhone and iPad dumb devices in the Philippines)

Smartphones are wonderful, if sometimes creepy things. They are aware of where we are and that allows them to give us information relevant to us. The most useful of these features is maps and locations. Last Saturday night I tried to search for the nearest Mary Grace Cafe branch, and Apple Maps proved to be rather useless. 

This something that everyone else gets right. An Android phone using Google Maps has no problem finding every single branch for you. A simple "mary grace" search, gives you the cafe and other places similarly named, with the cafe, being the most prominent Mary Grace in the Philippines, being highlighted in the results. 

Clicking the results list allows you to scroll through all the hits.

Google Maps or Locations (whichever app you decide to use) will also give me directions.

Windows Phone

When Windows Phone joined the fray, it biggest disadvantage in the Philippines was Bing Maps. With Nokia Maps, a Windows Phone can not compete with Google Maps and Locations. Not always having a Windows Phone device to I asked @levine of TipidCP to help me out.

As you can see, Windows Phone 7.5 will find the closest relevant entry to you, show you other relevant hits and give you driving directions.

As you can see, the Nokia Maps and results are not as polished as Googles. On the other hand Nokia does give you offline voice guided turn by turn navigation. Google will not give you voice guidance and you cannot do it offline.

Apple iPhone and iPad

Before iOS 6, Apple iPhones and iPad used the same excellent Google Maps service. Since iOS 6, they  use Apple maps.

What does the iPhone do when I search for Mary Grace. It wants me to buy a ticket, fly to the United States and visit a Catholic Church there.

Over time Apple can populate the missing info. The problem is, before they do that they have to fix the maps they are using.

Compare Apple map info (left) to Google maps info (right).

Basically, Apple smart iPhone and iPads have are not so smart in the Philippines. How long before this is corrected? I do not know.

Siri was pretty useless in the Philippines in 2011 except in answering questions relating to information about other countries or general information. A year later it still is. But Siri was an optional feature easy to ignore. Maps and locations.... well lets put it this way, would buy a phone without GPS and where people cannot sent you the location of your appointments to your address book?

Until Google or Nokia release an iPhone app, buying a new iPhone means giving up smartphone core functionality in the Philippines. If you already own one, do yourself a favor and stick with iOS 5.1.1. Or you could buy third party navigation software from the iOS store. This won't correct all the issues, but it is better than nothing.


  1. I had this impression that Apple is very meticulous with their products. This can be seen with how they designed their laptops, tablets, and phones. On the software side, I also thought they do a thorough testing and QA.

    I get it that Apple doesn't want to depend on any Google apps but with their map app, I doubt its a map app users can depend on.

    Also, I read in a news article they said their map app will "improve" once the users start using their app. Does that mean we, the users, should plot and tag landmarks again? People have already invested a lot of time populating Google maps. Why would we do the same thing again on an apple-only map app? It doesnt make any sense.

    1. For me, if Apple wants their own maps, why not. Competition is always good. I wrote this, in a vain hope that with enough complaints, Apple will fix their maps faster. I worry a small country like the Philippines will be low priority.

  2. Guys, what is the best third party navigation software for iOS6 can you suggest? That works best in Philippines? Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...