Apple's Maps app: You can't get there from here

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 25, 2012 - 8:35 AM

Many Twin Cities landmarks are misplaced. Apple says it will get better.

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A search for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis on Apple Maps sends people to the old Guthrie Theater near Walker Art Center and Loring Park, not to its location near the Mississippi River. The Guthrie moved in 2006. The current location of the Guthrie does show up, but searches send you to the previous location.

Eitel Hospital on the edge of Loring Park closed in 1985.

Not according to Apple's new iOS 6 Maps app.

The former Minneapolis hospital is still marked in pink with a medical cross on the maps. In reality, Eitel now houses apartments and the Loring Kitchen and Bar.

And that's just the beginning of the Twin Cities-area bloopers in the new Maps app, rolled out Wednesday to replace the Google Maps app that had been standard on iPhones and iPads until now. While Apple's Maps has been praised for some of its design, including 3-D flyover views of some major cities, critics almost immediately pounced on its inaccuracies.

By Thursday there was already a tumblr blog devoted to screen shots of Maps mistakes, and complaints had erupted across social media, including fake Twitter accounts mocking the new app.

The Washington Monument was in the wrong place, closer than usual to the Potomac River. Madison Square Garden was labeled as green space, as was the TD Garden arena in Boston.

In Minnesota, Maps says the Minnesota Twins still play at the Metrodome, the Guthrie Theater has a second location (at the site near the Walker Art Center it left six years ago) and Buck Hill Ski Area in Burnsville is on the same site as the defunct Orchard Gardens Golf Course. Edina High School is in the wrong place, and TCF Bank Stadium's marker pops up a couple of blocks away from its real location.

In response to complaints nationwide, an Apple spokeswoman has said the company is working to improve Maps and noted that the cloud-based app will get better as more people use it.

Apple buys map data from Tele Atlas, an established provider and subsidiary of TomTom, a well-known Dutch company that makes navigation devices.

Tim Cimbura, owner of Minneapolis-based tech company Cimbura.com, said there is truth to the idea that the maps should get better with more use.

Over time, Cimbura said, iPhone owners will report Maps flaws and contribute layers of information through other activities, "checking in" or reviewing businesses, for example, to refine the maps.

"It's a big world. There's a lot of information out there," he said. "It will get better."

Despite the beta bumps, Apple's motivation for creating its Maps app was likely Google's domination. Google has been building such a cache of information for years, and having access to that kind of data in the future couldn't be guaranteed, he said.

"Apple did what they needed to do in order to maintain being competitive and able to innovate in the future," Cimbura said.

But that doesn't mean the adjustment period is pain-free.

A.J. LaFromboise is bracing for calls from lost friends and pizza delivery guys who follow the Maps app to his Columbia Heights home. Many of his neighborhood streets are missing from the app, and the driving directions lead people to a fence at the dead end of a street that used to continue.

"Now, I'm going to be saying, 'Are you using an iPhone to get here? Because if so, it's going to be wrong,' " he said.

As for anyone searching for the Star Tribune office, the only daily newspaper the Maps app pinpoints in downtown Minneapolis is the San Antonio Express-News, apparently located at the Metrodome.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Katie Humphrey • 952-746-3286

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