updated 03:30 am EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
Claims he may become Australian citizen due to broadband network
Fusion-io Chief Scientist and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak commented on Apple's Maps debacle during a company event in Sydney, Australia, saying that he was slightly disappointed with the new application, but that it was primarily because he more luck with the "better database" used by Google maps on his Android phones in his own testing. Woz, who owns numerous phones and took advantage of being in the country to be among the first to get the iPhone 5, added that he felt the severity of the flaws in Apple's Maps app have been exaggerated, Australian media reports say.
While mentioning that he was "loving" the iPhone 5, Woz said he had been reading about the problems and complaints with the free service, which include inaccurate or less-complete data in some areas outside North America, satellite image issues, and the loss of some Google functionality such as Street View and transit directions (though it also added free turn-by-turn voice navigation and other new features). The main complaint users have is that the new Maps removed the older Google Maps app rather than simply becoming the new default, and there is no easy way for users to switch back or add Google Maps to iOS 6 devices currently -- as they can with the loss of the original dedicated YouTube app.
"I don't know if [the reported issues] are that severe," he told reporters, perhaps meaning that in context of the new app being a first release the program will expand its capabilities over time, or that media reports are making out the issues to be larger than they really are. Some websites have pointed out that Google Maps (and Bing Maps, which are based on Nokia's map system) also have errors of accuracy and incomplete listings. In fact, Apple Maps actually has 25 percent more business listings than Google Maps, though a number of companies have complained that the app doesn't locate them correctly.
The problems have even affected Apple Stores, with the flagship one in Sydney shown to be across the street from its actual location. Apple, stung by the media criticism over the one perceived flaw in the otherwise well-received iOS 6, is said to be working diligently on the largest issues in order to issue an update as quickly as possible.
Issues with the Maps app hasn't slowed demand for the product, which completely sold out worldwide with over five million sold at retail during its first weekend, and millions more pre-ordered or expected to be bought this week as new shipments arrive. The official count may well be revised upwards once full tallies are included, and even the five million figure represents a growth rate of 25 percent over the same period during the iPhone 4S launch.
Wozniak said that he had tried to use the navigation by voice feature of Maps while in Australia, but couldn't get to where he wanted to by voice, saying he "loved" the navigation by voice feature on his Android-based phones. After saying he didn't think the issues around Maps were "that severe," he used the example of the so-called "antenna-gate scandal" as an example. Apple never changed the design of the exterior antennas on the iPhone 4, but even once an issue with touching the antennas was proven, most users failed to notice the problem in real-world use, particularly when the use of cases become more widespread on the then-new model. The 4S slightly altered the design but kept the same exterior antennas concept intact.
"Sometimes there are a lot of complaints about one little thing people spot, but it's not that hard to deal with in life," he was quoted by ZDNet as saying. "I don't know yet about Maps -- I'm a little worried about the navigation -- but I've still got it covered with a bunch of other navigation apps." Users who want the Google Maps can still use them in much the same way as before by making a "web app" out of the website, or by relying on alternative apps. Hackers have even published various methods of putting the iOS 5 version of Google Maps back on iOS 6.
Wozniak also made headlines in Australia by announcing that he intended to become a dual citizen there, retaining his US citizenship but studying to become an Australian because of his affection for the nationalized broadband network, which has been rolled out by the Australian government and is planned to eventually provide fibre Internet access to every citizen. Wozniak famously does not have broadband in his California home because he feels his options amount to a monopoly.
He told a radio interviewer in Brisbane that he had explained his issue with cable dynasties to FCC commissioners but that the US lacked the political will to mandate affordable Internet access to all US citizens. While saying he intends to try for Australian citizenship, he appears to be interested in continuing to live near Silicon Valley, saying the area was becoming a tech hotbed again and that he enjoyed both inspiring and helping young start-ups whenever possible.
Woz also mentioned his concern that the rash of IP lawsuits currently flying between the bigger tech companies may hinder future entrepreneurs, saying he cares "about the young person that has some technical knowledge and wants to start their own business," just as he did (albeit somewhat reluctantly) along with former CEO Steve Jobs when they founded Apple, which is now the most valuable single company in the world. [via ZDNet]