Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Apple's Default App Problem
I had a conversation with a friend tonight that went more or less like this:
Friend: "So, my phone finally got updated to iOS6, which sucks because I didn't want Apple Maps. So, I downloaded Google Maps, but when I click on a contact's address, it still takes me into Apple Maps."
Me: "Yeah, I know."
Friend: "Well, why does it do that?"
Me: "Because Apple."
Friend: "Well, how do I make it open in Google Maps?"
Me: "You can't."
Me: "Because Apple."
The thing is, this friend of mine is not someone I would describe as tech savvy - I'd describe her as a pretty standard smartphone user. She isn't the kind of person who would usually care about nerdy things like "default apps" and "app intents" - and until recently, she had no reason to care. But now that she wants to use Google Maps just like she used to before iOS6...she can't. And it's annoying her. And honestly, she isn't the first friend of mine I've had some form of this conversation with, and I imagine she won't be the last.
Apple tries very hard to keep you in the experience they've created - which was fine. Their default apps and services worked, and people were happy to keep using them, oblivious to alternatives that might be slightly preferable. Convenience is almost always king, and even if I find a web browser I like more...if all of the web links I click on are going to open in Safari, then hey, I may as well just use Safari. Well played, Apple.
That worked for years...until they crippled one of they key parts of that experience - mobile maps. Suddenly, alternatives weren't just slightly preferable...they were borderline necessary, to the point where Apple took the unprecedented step of promoting competitor's products in their own app store. People have learned, through years of using iOS, to trust Google's maps. Google's maps are the ones they want, and they can get them, but the app isn't integrated into the OS anymore. And people - people who would never have noticed before - are starting to care. You can download all the maps you want, but if you ask Siri for directions...she's still going to bring up Apple Maps.
I can't help but wonder if this might be what finally leads Apple to allow for users to change their default apps for certain activities. Maybe it won't - maybe the experiences my peers have had are edge-cases. I'm not going to claim that my experience is universal, and I know as well as anyone that personal anecdotes aren't useful data. Still, logically, these experiences don't come as a surprise. It's one thing to not let users change their default e-mail app to Sparrow, or the default browser to Chrome - but millions of users use mobile maps on a near-daily basis. This is the sort of thing that even gets casual users' attention.
I'm curious to hear if you guys have had similar (or different) experiences!