Apple improves Maps, critics slam it anyway

Apple [AAPL] last night fielded a range of improvements in its Maps application, including the addition of Flyover support for 16 new cities, but if the company hoped this would help people see its commitment to improving the service, it thought wrong: ever eager for a "bad Apple" headline, media critics focused on negative comments appended to the original report.

[ABOVE: Apple improves Maps. Google puts a Google Maps on iPhone video about. Thermonuclear, much?]

Maps improved

Roll over to The Loop and you'll see Jim Dalrymple's post on the matter. He reports the improvements, adding:

"Maps may have disappointed some users when it was first released, but when Tim Cook said he was focusing Apple’s attention to fix the issues, he meant it. And it shows."

If Apple or Dalrymple had hoped that the online audience would understand the effort the company is making to improve its mapping service, they thought wrong.

The comment thread below the post is populated by a host of online avatars, who may, or may not, be writing the truth. Many of these comments are highly negative, with claims of inaccuracies in the data provided. 

The nature of comments to online posts is that it is advisable to check the facts they claim before considering them to be true.

Mark Twain famously once said: "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

Apple improves Maps

So does the criticism

That's certainly an observation that can be made of some of the reports that followed Darymple's Maps improvement claim.

Some examples:

CNN immediately reported the forum critics, but in a reflection of Mark Twain doesn't appear to have attempted to check the claims, observing:

"In any event, his report on the things Apple did right had the perverse effect of triggering a fresh flood of complaints about what's still wrong."

Business Insider focused on the functionality, but couldn't help itself from investing its own personal value judgement in the headline and at the end of its report. 

"What Apple really needs to fix is the core functionality, which means getting directions right, and being 10X better at search than it currently is. It should know that searching for "Medina" in Manhattan means Medina Cafe, not Medina in the Middle East.

"It's nice, we suppose, that things are a little better with maps, but this only highlights how far behind Google Apple is with its maps."

Digital Trends managed to find a constructive criticism:

"To instill confidence in iDevice owners still wary of Apple Maps and to persuade them to give it another go, Apple would do well to have a special page on its site giving some details on how its work on improving the software is progressing. It could let users know which areas have been updated with what information, and outline its upcoming plans for the app."

Some might form the opinion that both Business Insider and CNN are jumping to please Apple's critics in their reports.

Pack animals

This appears to be a trend:

Long time Apple-focused reporter, Andy Ihnatko (a "tech luminary" according to Macworld, though my primary knowledge of the man involves the night we both felt like he'd tried to chat up my then girlfriend) recently created a huge surge of traffic on his announcement that he'd dumped his iPhone for Android.

Last night I learned the long-running MacBreak weekly podcast has suddenly switched to covering Android.

Last year I began to reflect on the growing divide between Apple and the once supportive media. More recently I reflected on Apple's bad 2012, calling the company "beleaguered". That report attracted some criticism at the time.

However, I think the coverage of Apple's most recent Maps improvements reinforces the points I was making then.

The Apple versus Google war has not been kind to Cupertino, forcing partisan platform politics to sour what should be calm and vaguely rational tech news and opinion reporting.  

This trend even seems to be reflected in the automated curation of news items on Google News, where you'll often find a negative Apple slant at the top of the list. Though some might question if this reflects the world's opinion, or guides it.

I imagine the question for Apple's PR teams then might be: "How do we make the media like us again?" The answer most likely should be: "Don't worry about it. Let the products do the talking. Just don't say too much about Maps."

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