Apple store employees may be key to fixing Maps

Apple Maps
Maps may get help from Apple store employees

Apple caught plenty of flack from its fans when it replaced Google Maps with its own, less robust navigation app.

However, the iPhone purveyor just might find its way out of the woods if a rumored new initiative succeeds.

MacRumors and ifoAppleStore (via a tweet) both reported the company started a new pilot program to use its resource of Apple retail store employees to hammer out the dents in its beleaguered Maps app.

Can you spare some time?

Complete details on the project haven't yet come to light, but according to the rumors, participating stores will dedicate about 40 hours per week of staff time, split among its employees.

Among employee participants, each will review Maps data and manually submit corrections, though specifics of how employees will review the data are still unclear.

They may simply compare Apple Maps to Google Maps to make adjustments, or could verify Maps' accuracy in person.

In fact, one rumor indicates a team of 10 employees will work at one store, but there's no telling if that will be the normal team size. Also, some employees will become "subject matter experts" and receive special training to help them lead the effort.

The changes will reportedly be handled through a dedicated internal portal on Apple's system.

'We fell short'

Apple switched to its own Map client when it released iOS 6, since becoming the target of harsh criticism, mean-spirited memes, and dedicated Tumblrs.

Criticism has especially centered on moments of disastrous inaccuracy and a lack of public transportation information.

In a few humorous examples, Apple Maps turned East Portland into a nature park, displaced an entire town, and moved Heathrow Airport next to Hyde Park.

Last Friday, Apple's CEO Tim Cook published a letter on the company's site apologizing for the Maps misstep.

"At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers," Cook wrote.

"With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."

The letter even recommend customers use rival map services such as Bing, MapQuest, and even rivals Google or Nokia's map websites until Apple Maps got up to snuff.

What would Steve do?

In the wake of the fiasco, some have wondered whether this map switch would've happened if Steve Jobs were still alive to guide Apple.

However, a report from Bloomberg reported the change to Apple Maps was actually initiated by the late Apple co-founder.

The former CEO, according to the report, loathed Google.

He felt the rival company copied elements of the iPhone and withheld Google Maps features that allow smartphones to give turn-by-turn directions out loud.

Jobs would've also reportedly liked to cut Google search from iPhones and Mobile Safari completely, however the idea was nixed because Apple thought it would upset customers too much.

Better in the long run

Though Apple Maps is unpopular at the moment, an analyst told Bloomberg that Apple is better off taking control of its own navigation app because it's an important source of customer data and potential future revenue:

"I don't think Apple had any choice but to make a major break and say: We are going to just start from the beginning," Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, said. "The best thing Apple could do was take the hit now."

Apple has yet to respond to TechRadar's request for confirmation of the employee-correction program at the time of publication, but we will update the story if and when we receive more information.

Via Bloomberg, MacRumors