Google Looks Like Super Grinch by Omitting December from People App

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-11-26 Print this article Print

Most of the time they were minor and didn’t affect the safety of navigation, but there are plenty of reports of people following their GPS units into oblivion. As navigation software gets more complex and offers more features, the errors also increase. Apple’s problem was that the errors were egregious and obvious.

Google’s errors on its People app were even more egregious and even more obvious. But they are related to Apple’s errors in one significant way. Both companies clearly rushed their respective apps to market with insufficient testing. Even fairly minimal testing would have revealed the lack of December in the People app. Finding the mapping errors in Apple Maps would have taken more testing, but not so much as to be unreasonable. After all the errors were noticed by users on the first day the app was released to the public.

The cause for this rush to market and this lack of testing, especially in the mobile software arena should be fairly clear. These apps are given away for free. Testing adds cost to something that will realize no direct offsetting revenue. Even the apps that carry a purchase price are very inexpensive for the most part. The cost of detailed testing is a powerful disincentive to high-level quality control. Because of the relationship between costs and revenue, app distributors have little incentive to focus on quality. They just check to make sure they run, but don’t take the time to make sure they run correctly in all cases.

Unfortunately for both Apple and Google, the lack of quality in these apps does reflect on the companies behind the apps. Nobody is likely to trust either company without question. We now know that ultimately, mobile device companies that give away apps may have feet of clay. We should probably adopt Ronald Reagan’s admonition to “Trust, but verify.”

On a broader scale, we also know that we shouldn’t adopt these apps as being part of our business without thorough testing. Yes, it’s nice to get great apps for free, but we need to make sure that they’re great apps.

Suppose your company had to depend on Apple Maps to work properly, only to find that the app would send you to the center of the main runway at Dulles International Airport instead of to the terminal. Yes, you can figure out how to get to the airport without the navigation software because there are signs, but in that case, why buy the device—especially if it’s also going to steal Christmas?


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