TORONTO - A Canadian blogger's frustration with the new maps app for Apple's iPhone 5 inspired him to experiment with how effective it is at navigating around his home province of Ontario.
The results left him even more disappointed in Apple.
Jason Matheson wrote a program to compare all the entries in Ontario's official list of cities and towns against the location data in Apple's maps app.
According to Matheson's analysis of 2,028 places in Ontario, only 20 per cent were correctly identified in Apple's maps app, 19 per cent were "close," 27 per cent were incorrect and 34 per cent were missing.
His test was conducted just before Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an open letter to customers saying he was "extremely sorry" that users were disappointed with the app, which replaced the Google Maps app that had previously been installed on Apple devices.
When the iPhone 5 was first released, Apple claimed its app was "the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever." It has since stopped using that line in its marketing efforts.
Being from a rural area north of Toronto, Matheson was frustrated that Apple's app seemed more capable of helping users in urban areas but not smaller locales.
"Being born and raised outside of Toronto that really bugged me because up until then I never had any problems with the maps application" designed by Google," Matheson said.
"You try to search for a town and there's no result, or the results that come in are coming in from other countries, or they're just all mislabelled."
One of the more grating examples he encountered was a search for Bracebridge, a popular area for cottaging about 200 kilometres north of Toronto. A search for Bracebridge in Apple's maps app does turn up a result, but it's far east of the town. Someone relying on the app for directions to Bracebridge might end up wasting a fair bit of extra time on the road before realizing they arrived in the wrong place.
"Lots of times (a search result) looks like it's OK but once you start zooming in the pin would be in a river or a forest," Matheson said.
He was also frustrated that Apple's technical support team blamed his maps issues on the phone and not on the software.
"Apple's support team was getting me to reset my phone and telling me my GPS in the phone might not be working, they had no clue what was going on."
Matheson said he hasn't run a similar test with Google Maps — to see what errors or omissions that app might have in Ontario — but never had a problem with its effectiveness in previous years.
As of Tuesday morning, Matheson's blog post about his test had been viewed 45,000 times in just a few days. He said he's received hundreds of emails sharing similar stories of frustration with the maps app. Unfortunately, he's also received an unexpectedly large amount of hate mail, too.
"I've got a lot of email from people who, I guess, don't like me too much because of the posting and have been threatening me and stuff like that. It goes both ways."
A spokewoman for Apple said the company had no comment on Matheson's blog post.
Jason Matheson's test of Apple's maps app: http://bit.ly/P8Lrb5