Anthony Drendel, writing on his personal blog:
Google Maps was always pretty terrible here. In the big cities and tourist centers, it was passable. Once you left China’s large metropolises, however, you were pretty much on your own. You could usually see expressways, highways, and even a lot of smaller roads, but there were very, very few shops, restaurants, banks, ATMs, etc. listed. That has changed with iOS 6. Apple has chosen AutoNavi to provide map services within China. That was a smart move, because AutoNavi is a local Chinese company that provides very detailed maps of China. Google was never going to be able to map China as well as it has other parts of the globe because the Chinese government doesn’t trust the motives of foreign companies—and it especially doesn’t trust Google. (see update below)
This article provides an excellent balance to the US-centric tech reporting that has slammed Apple’s mapping solution. While it is a fact that Google is better in a lot of the world, there are certainly places that Google isn’t as accurate – including China, which just happens to be one of Apple’s highest priority markets.
Specifically, Apple’s iOS 6 mapping solution is superior to what Google was providing in iOS 5 and below. It seems that Google does indeed have the data for China, but that it isn’t as reliably shown for political reasons (if you don’t remember, China and Google have never gotten along for various reasons). Regardless, it’s a great read, and shows a side of Apple’s maps that isn’t always obvious to those of us in the US.