When it was launched last fall, Apple’s iOS Maps quickly became the butt of many Internet jokes. Full of bugs, glitches, and an uncanny handling of geography, the app failed in spectacular fashion, most memorably, by instructing users to take a left turn into the ocean or in pinpointing their destination to the middle of an airport runway.
While many web denizens furiously worked to post all the algorithm fails they could find, few would do so with the curator’s eye of Peder Norrby. His iOS Maps Glitches artfully collects the melting bridges, jagged buildings, and discombobulated landscapes that plague Apple’s app.
Norrby, who’s the founder of the computer graphics company Trapcode, has been cataloging his finds for several months. His Flickr page devoted to the series depicts the vast array of glitches he’s managed to capture: Wide expanses of fractured highway that fold into vertiginous 90-degree cliffs; trees lining avenues become surrealist amorphous blobs of green; and a sole roller coaster is reduced to what looks like a prop from the classic Playstation game Twisted Metal.
The visual hiccups aren’t “glitches” per se, but rather the result of iOS’s underperforming rendering engine, which seems to have an extraordinarily tough time with textural mapping, i.e., draping a 2-D image over a 3-D topographical model. As Norrby tells Co.Design: “The glitches are essentially the computer misunderstanding the underlying geometry. It tries its best and sometimes it leads to comical, interesting, and lovely images.”
Since Norrby began collecting the photos, Apple has been quietly correcting some of the very flaws that are the subject of his colorful screen grabs. "I’ve seen some glitches disappear," he says, referring to "Tricky roundabout," an elevated highway loop that hovered above a series of drooping roads before they were later smoothed out. The corrections, he explains, "add" to his project.
Regarding similar efforts to document Apple’s failed attempt to challenge Google Maps, Norrby says his aims are different. "I’m not trying to ridicule Apple Maps. I’m doing this because I like the images."