x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Apple's iOS 6 update leaves UAE iPhone, iPad and iPod users fuming

Take our poll: Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users in the UAE who downloaded iOS 6 as soon as it became available last night had little to celebrate as most of the exciting new features do not work in the Emirates, and the new Maps app misses out landmarks such as the Dubai Mall.

The new Maps app shows a largely unmarked Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan.
The new Maps app shows a largely unmarked Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan.

DUBAI // One would think Dubai Mall, which sprawls across 1,124,000 square metres and has 1,200 stores, is big enough not to be missed.

But somehow the world’s largest shopping centre, along with many of the UAE’s other landmarks, has escaped the notice of the creators of Apple’s new Maps application.

The app comes with iOS 6, the new operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, which was launched on Wednesday.

The app was developed by Apple in partnership with satnav specialists Tom Tom and replaces Google Maps, which was built in to earlier versions of iOS.

The new maps app has been slated by critics around the world, with many concluding it is vastly inferior to the app it replaces.

And the situation is particularly bad in the UAE, where very little basic data is included on the maps.

The Burj Khalifa is marked – not even Apple’s mapping team could miss the world’s tallest tower – but nothing else is.

The lake from which the Dubai Fountain erupts, the hotels, the apartment blocks, the Souq Al Bahar – none of them appear on the new map. But the Google map that Apple ditched provides a highly detailed view.

It is a similar story with Abu Dhabi. Call up maps of the island using the new and old apps and you’ll find only a few street names and the Al Bateen private jet airport marked on the Apple map. The Google map gives you a wealth of information at the same scale.

Adding insult to injury, none of the new map features that Apple has used to promote iOS 6 – such as turn-by-turn navigation, 3D buildings in navigation, traffic reports, local search and business reviews and photos – work in the UAE. And users can no longer obtain driving directions, which were available before.

Apple users turned to Twitter to voice their disappointment.

Dan Clarke tweeted: “Heads up on iOS 6. The new Maps app doesn’t provide any directions for the UAE. It’s actually worse than the previous maps app. #Unbelievable.”

It is, however, still possible to use Google Maps on iOS devices by accessing it through web browsers.

But maps were not the only things UAE Apple fans were displeased with. Many of the most significant of the “200-plus new features” promised with iOS 6 do not work here.

The Siri voice control system, for example, has several new elements in other countries, including restaurant information plus a table-reservation service and movie showtimes, but the system cannot supply information about the UAE.

The sports results feature only provides details of American sports.

Other features – some new, some revised – that cannot be used here include the Passbook electronic wallet, FaceTime and the iTunes Store.

James Mattison tweeted: “Just checked which of the amazing iOS 6 features will work in the UAE. That’ll be exactly none of them. Great.”

Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky’s Electronics, said: “This is nothing new, really, because a lot of what you have typically on Apple products have not been available here for a long time,” Mr Panjabi said. “Their first priority is of course their home market, the US.

“Can they do everything perfectly in every country on day one? It’s a tall ask. You need to give it a little bit of time.”

csimpson@thenational.ae