Why Apple Maps Malaysia is so far behind

There are a couple of things which Apple is good for and there are many things which they are great in. But when it comes to their Maps application, whether it is for iOS of mac OS, it certainly sucks. Of course, I mean this in the context that in Malaysia, it pretty much sucks.

So why does it suck?

Apple Maps is NOT updated frequently enough

Until only recently, the data in Maps got slightly better. But compared to the likes of Google Maps, it pales in comparison. Its like literally comparing a 9-year old kid’s knowledge with a university graduate. Data is key and what Apple lacks is accurate data here in Malaysia.

Yes, you can submit your changes in the iOS Maps application but I wonder how often that gets updated as well. Well, some credit does go to Apple as they have drastically improved the Maps from its initial release. If you search deeper within Apple’s Maps, you would notice that businesses that are registered there are data pulled mostly from FourSquare.

Google Local Guide

Recently, Google also launched Local Guide which encourages people to submit reviews, photos and correct errors on Google Maps and the businesses listed on Google. This is a brilliant move to encourage more user-generated content and the reward? 2TB of Google Drive space!

Apple Maps doesn’t allow businesses to update it

Until now, Apple hasn’t allowed businesses in Malaysia to update their listing on Maps.

A screenshot of "https://mapsconnect.apple.com" where Malaysia is missing from the list of countries
A screenshot of “https://mapsconnect.apple.com” where Malaysia is missing from the list of countries

Compared to Google where you can freely list your business after going through a verification process, this is where Google continues to play such a great role for SME’s in Malaysia hence enriching the content of their maps as well as business sites.

A workaround would be to get yourself listed on FourSquare so that the data is pulled from there to Apple Maps.

Lack of community support for Apple Maps

Did you know that after you have gained a certain number of points on Waze, it gives you access to their map editor (https://www.waze.com/editor/). You can log in with your Waze account, make a new listing, or submit changes using their online tool. Once that is done, send it in (via the Facebook Group) to the moderators for it to be approved. The moderators are mostly on a volunteer basis but at least the community continues to help grow the content on Waze. This is why Waze is so popular here in Malaysia and Apple’s Maps will continue to falter behind the incumbents.

So what should Apple do with Apple Maps in Malaysia?

In truth, perhaps Malaysia is not Apple’s focus as we are a rather small market. They might think that the best way is just to sell hardware (iPads, iPhones, Macs) here. I believe that is their problem. Their hardware rely on software to make them great. This is broken down to the operating system and the varierty of services applications which comes with iOS. They need to localise certain aspects of their services in order to also gain market share here. Take Spotify for example, they have managed to tie up with the telcos here to offer great deals to Malaysian customers. On top of that, they offer a subscription service priced in Ringgit Malaysia compared to Apple’s Music Service which may seem cheap in the US but is pricier compared to Spotify here in Malaysia.

They need to localise certain aspects of their services in order to also gain market share here. Take Spotify for example, they have managed to tie up with the telcos here to offer great deals to Malaysian customers. On top of that, they offer a subscription service priced in Ringgit Malaysia compared to Apple’s Music Service which may seem cheap in the US but is pricier compared to Spotify here in Malaysia.

In terms of their Maps application, if they intend to really want to catch up with the likes of Google and Waze, they have some serious catching up to do.

  1. Get all of the business listings included to the Maps data. Whether it may be viaself-registrationn or via SSM Malaysia.
  2. Focus on key landmarks as well as places in Malaysia first especially all the tourist areas and world heritage sites.
  3. Provide incentives for businesses to register on Apple Maps
  4. Reach out to the local transport ministries and get transit data as well as help them build the data and let it flow to Maps. Most of the times when dealing with the local authorities, they may have legacy systems and antiquated processes and data. Offer to build it up for them and then connect to it via an API.
  5. Hire local map companies to provide the data and updates required for Maps within Malaysia including East Malaysia
  6. Build a community of map editors and data submitters and give them some incentives.

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At the end of the day, this is just me complaining about the use of Maps. To me, I use Google Maps and Waze so frequently that the Maps app is buried deep but as Siri is integrated with iOS Maps, it bugs me that I can’t utilise the power of Siri. With the recent announcement during WWDC, I hope Google and Waze works on the Siri integration.

I also do hope somewhere out there, someone at Apple is reading this. Otherwise, I might just have to highlight it to the good folks at Apple Malaysia.