If you see someone walking around today with an extra spring in their step, it might well be an Android user.
On a day when the world was hurling insult after accusation after put-down at Apple for its iOS 6 Maps fiasco, a lot of people getting from point A to point B using Google Maps on Android devices are probably feeling pretty good about themselves and their technology. And maybe even a little superior.
"I saw the new iOS Maps app," wrote @ArdaXi on Twitter. "Really, I appreciate all the effort Apple is expending to drive users away to Android."
And why not feel superior as some Apple fanboys (and girls) hide their faces in shame after upgrading to iOS 6 and realizing that, for the time being at least, they're suddenly stuck using a mapping product that's twisting bridges, duplicating islands, misidentifying cities, and mucking up all kinds of other things?
Across the Internet today, there's no shortage of articles, blog posts, tweets, and other comments reporting on the debacle. From the tone of the commentary -- including at CNET -- one might think that the world was ending, rather than that a brand-new feature was having problems.
And rest assured, Apple will surely address these issues, and fast. While there's no way it can populate its maps overnight with the kind of user-generated information about countless points of interest that helps make Google Maps so rich, it's hard to imagine the brain trust in Cupertino, Calif. -- home to Apple HQ -- not pushing out fixes to the worst of the problems in a matter of days, or even sooner.
For its part, Google appears to be taking the high road -- in public, at least. Resisting what must be an incredible urge to gloat, the company is simply using the Apple Maps situation as an opportunity to calmly tout the virtues of its own mobile mapping tool. "We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world," a Google spokesperson wrote CNET in an e-mail. "Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system."
A statement like that, of course, would seem to indicate that Google intends to release a downloadable iOS version of Google Maps. And why wouldn't it? As my colleague Casey Newton pointed out, the biggest reason to so -- aside from helping out millions of desperate iOS users -- is that it depends on massive numbers of mobile device owners constantly using Google Maps in order to populate the service with things like traffic flow.
Newton quoted a blog post from Scott Rafer, CEO of mapping application company Lumatic: "More than half of Google's mobile map usage is going away in the next month or two. Usage makes maps better a lot faster than software does.'"
For its part, Apple is banking on massive usage to make its own maps service as good as can be. "Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service. We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover and Siri integration, and free turn by turn navigation," Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told CNET. "We launched this new map service knowing that it is a major initiative and we are just getting started with it. We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get. We're also working with developers to integrate some of the amazing transit apps in the App Store into iOS Maps. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better."
Some people, of course, are approaching the whole imbroglio with precisely the right perspective. Rather than being a sign of the apocalypse, or that Apple is on the verge of becoming, well, Apple circa 1996, this is simply a case of a feature gone (temporarily) wrong and a whole lot of people getting unnecessarily worked up about it. "The maps situation is way overblown," Twitter user Paul Sheppard argued to CNET. "Suddenly, it's become the most important feature people want to use and I have seen comments from people claiming that they no longer will buy an iPhone...Android users are loving this and making the most out of it because in their eyes, it reinforces that they own the better product -- conveniently ignoring any flaws their own phone has."
Still, there's no doubt today has been a PR nightmare for Apple, and a rare opportunity for Android users to stand alone as owners of a clearly superior product. And they're not being shy about saying so.
"I love Google Maps and I use it all the time," Android user Gianmaria Clerici wrote CNET in an e-mail. "Having Google Maps fully integrated with my phone is definitely a plus and makes happy that I have an Android... And I do have to admit that reading the disappointing reaction from all the iPhone users who upgraded to iOS 6 feels a little bit like a small revenge. From an Android user point of view, Apple arrogance [is] a little bit annoying."