Navigating iPhone's maps muddle

  • Brian Deaton upgraded his iPhone 4 to the new iOS6 software, which includes a new map application. Deaton used the new app for navigation in Napa last weekend and found it to be inaccurate.

Family practice physician Rachel S.C. Friedman recalls a first-generation Apple iPhone as her constant companion during months of West Coast travel in her quest for a hospital residency five years ago.

Its mobile map application proved a source of guidance and comfort as she navigated foreign roads and out-of-the-way communities at all times of the day and night, from Washington state to Southern California.

"I just remember feeling so grateful for all the times I didn't get lost," Friedman said.

So even as she's discovered new functions she likes on the iPhone's upgraded operating system, iOS 6, the admitted "early adopter" said she's worried about reports that its new Apple Maps system is massively flawed.

"I can say that the maps function is probably the thing I use the most on the iPhone," Friedman said. "It's indispensable. So if it's not working very well, it will lessen the magic of the iPhone."

Or just lead you to the wrong destination, as might have happened with Brian Deaton and Gina DiCorti. The pair consulted an iPhone with the upgrade on their way to a Napa restaurant Sunday and found it not only provided the wrong location but showed them traveling west when they were driving east.

If you didn't know roughly where you were headed, "I think you'd be screwed," Deaton, 26, said Monday.

DiCorti, who had to see a new doctor later in the day, said she'd probably print out a map from her work computer rather than rely on her iPhone to get her there.

Around the world, critics are lambasting Apple's mapping system, developed in-house for the new iPhone 5 to replace Google Maps, which was standard on previous iPhones. For iPhone users, Google's app is a casualty of the escalating battle between Apple's iOS and Google's Android smartphone platforms.

Folks using the newest iPhone, released Friday, or its iOS 6 operating system, available for download since Wednesday, are finding neighborhoods, rivers and landmarks obliterated or just showing up in weird locations.

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