I’m reluctant to write about this flaming topic so let me just get the tired bit out of the way first: iOS 6 Maps could be better, they will get better, blah blah blah.

I have opinions regarding the new maps in iOS 6 but given that very few people care about my opinion on the matter (rightly so), I’m going to share an idea instead. Granted, about as many people care about my ideas as do my opinions; but ideas are aimed at solving a problem while opinions are at best aimed at starting a discussion and at worst an argument.

Enough of the argument, here’s an idea!

When I saw that Apple was building it’s own mapping technology and no longer basing the maps in iOS off of Google Maps, my first thought was: I’ll be really disappointed if Mountain Lion doesn’t include a mapping SDK. Well shit, I’m disappointed Mountain Lion is indeed missing maps. You may be saying to yourself, who cares about maps in Mac OS X!

Personally, I’m desperately craving a native mapping application for the Mac. For being a web app Google Maps is quite amazing, but it’s also quite lacking as it doesn’t integrate into any other aspect of the operating system. Imagine if the only maps on your phone were found in a browser? That would seriously suck! And that’s exactly what we have in OS X and it indeed does suck. But beyond how awesome this would be to have in OS X, it truly could have helped the new version of Maps in iOS 6. Here’s what I’m thinking.

One of the central difficulties with building a mapping solution is data. Google has a ton of data backing their maps, data that we have all given them over years of heavy usage. Apple does not have this historical data yet, but they could have started collecting it earlier. By releasing an OS X Maps app before the release of iOS 6 they could have vetted their maps a bit with end user usage, praise and complaints.

About 7 months before iOS 6 was released, Apple started using their maps in the iPhoto for iOS app. So it really was no secret that Apple was cooking up an in house mapping solution. What if they had released an OS X map app around the same time? Because there is no existing app in OS X users would not be up in arms over the quality of the maps in that environment. It’s the replacement of the maps in iOS 6 that has some users worried. This is one of the only areas where OS X doesn’t have the pain of legacy so it would have made a wonderful vehicle to help build and vet issues with their maps.

Alas this is not what Apple chose to do. Perhaps they didn’t think of it… doubtful. Perhaps they didn’t have time… maybe, but this is clearly very important to them so I think they would have found the time. Perhaps they wanted to keep things under wraps a bit longer… seemingly not unlike Apple to do so, but if that truly were the case they probably wouldn’t have included them in iPhoto. Perhaps these things are far more complicated than any outsider can accurately speculate over… almost definitely. But just maybe they too were a bit reluctant… I hope not.

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