iOS 6 Release Date Is Almost Here: Why Apple Maps May Lose To Google, Other Features To Look Out For

  @LisaEadicicco on September 18 2012 11:30 AM

Apple will begin its official rollout of iOS 6 on Wednesday, just a couple of short days before the release date of its recently-revealed iPhone 5. The next-generation operating system boasts a host of new features for iOS devices, but one crucial flaw may have some users considering a switch to Android.

Apple Maps, the new navigation app set to roll out with iOS 6 tomorrow, is lacking in its local search function due to the company's severed ties with Google.  A report by Rocky Mountain Mac Repair revealed that the search function in Apple Maps is very limited, and results will only be able to be found for the specific name of a business, an address, or through Yelp categories.

"I didn't consider the consequences that come without Google's data and backend for local businesses," said Josh Carr of the Apple repair website, who was tinkering with the Golden Master edition of iOS 6 to gain familiarity before the new OS launches.

For example, with Google Maps, a user could type the word "burrito" into the search bar and any local restaurants serving burritos would appear on the map. Now, with Apple Maps in iOS 6, only establishments with the word "burrito" in the business' title will be retrieved.

In addition to using these search terms, users may perform searches via Yelp categories. This allows iOS device owners to browse through various categories to find a location or business nearby. While this may sound relatively harmless, it could put establishments that offer various services at a disadvantage.

Such is the case with Rocky Mountain Mac Repair, as cited by the author of the article, who said that his company was listed under the "Web Design" category on Yelp. This means that only customers seeking Web design may be attracted to the business, rather than those looking for iPhone and iPad repairs. A feature such as this could exclude an entire audience for some businesses.

Siri, Apple's digital voice-activated assistant, does not do much to remedy scenarios such as these. Carr wrote than when searching for Rocky Mountain Mac Repair by saying the words "iPhone Repair" and "iPad Repair" to Siri, Apple store locations are retrieved. Additionally, establishments that share the word "apple" in their title appear as search results.

"I can only hope that Apple realizes the error of its ways and improves the local search capabilities of the Maps app," he said. "They dropped Google; it will never return. However, they have an extremely long way to go if they ever want to compete with Google in local search."

The electronics design firm announced that it had scrapped the formerly used Google Maps in favor of its own iteration of a navigation app earlier this summer. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has been partnering with Google for its Maps application since the original iPhone was launched in 2007, and the mapping software had come preinstalled in iOS products ever since.

This isn't the first negative review of the self-branded Apple Maps to roll out with iOS 6. Becoming familiar with the new navigation app may not come easily for those accustomed to Google Maps, as Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch acknowledges.

"It's not insignificant -- it changes fundamentally the process of getting directions, especially for those who use public transit, and not for the better," he writes. "Using Yelp for points of interest is good, but still doesn't feel quite up to the level of searching for places in Google Maps."

However, Apple Maps may not be the only flaw iPhone and iPad users should be on the lookout for when the iOS 6 release date arrives. Security company Intego has suggested that some new features in iOS 6, such as Passbook, could spark security and privacy concerns. Passbook allows iOS users to store gift cards, tickets, loyalty cards and coupons digitally within their device.

"What a wonderful boon for cybercrime!" writes Intego's Lisa Myers on the company blog. "Personally identifying information, information about when you'll be out of the house, and potentially-resalable credit information will all be there for the taking."

Apple iPad and iPhone owners should also be careful when installing apps, since iOS 6 does not require users to input a password before doing so. The introduction of Passbook also adds more incentive for hackers to create malware in order to gain access to one's device, creating a virtual environment that could be potentially dangerous. 

Messaging is another aspect of iOS 6 that has been targeted for privacy concerns. A security issue with the SMS messaging in iOS 6 was reported nearly a month ago, in which messages could be manipulated so that the sender could change the "Reply To" address to a phone number different than the original. Apple had responded to this concern one day after it was discovered.

"Apple takes security very seriously," representatives from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company told The Verge in August. "When using iMessage instead of SMS, addresses re verified which protects against these kinds of spoofing attacks."

The hacker who discovered this flaw, known as Pod2G, wrote in a blog post that this issue has existed since 2007 when the original iPhone debuted.

Although there have been reports of potential security problems with iOS 6, the introduction of Apple Maps may be the most troublesome for iOS users. Navigation accounts for a large amount of mobile device usage, as Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO and former Google VP of Location and Local Services, revealed last year. At 2011's South by Southwest festival, Mayer announced that Google Maps has reached 150 million mobile users, and 40 percent of all Google Maps usage came from mobile devices, according to BGR.

For those in the market for a new smartphone, Samsung's Galaxy S3 or Galaxy Note 2 may be looking quite appealing for avid users of Google Maps.

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