Earlier this summer, Apple announced a large number of changes to its Maps app as part of the upcoming iOS 13 update. Now that the new operating system has finally arrived, the technology giant is gradually rolling out those changes in the US. It started with California and Texas, and from this week it now covers the northeastern US.
Some new features are similar to what Google Maps offers, while others are still lagging behind. For example, Apple Maps now offers detailed transportation routes in just 10 cities, which, while incredibly useful, pales in comparison to Google, which has transportation routes in thousands of cities and towns around the world. There is a new feature called "Look Around" that lets you – you guessed it! – look around a real location. It is actually just like Google & # 39; s Street View, but again, less extensive.
Another new feature allows you to share your real-time ETA with friends. And it is now easier to group favorite places and frequently visited locations. The emphasis is also on privacy: Apple used machine learning to blur faces of passers-by and license plates and even their reflections.
However, let's set aside the obvious comparisons and talk about aesthetics. The new Apple Maps simply looks much better. The first thing you notice is the green. The rather dull beige appearance has been replaced by a map that is more topographically and ecologically more accurate. Buildings have more depth and detail and the images in the Look Around function are clear, have a high resolution and look much more lifelike.
Apple released its Maps app for the first time in September 2012 as a replacement for the Google-supplied maps that are standard on the iPhone since it came on the market in 2007. But problems arose almost immediately, with many users quickly discovering that Apple Maps lacked much of the details of Google Maps. The feed directions were incomplete, landmarks were incorrectly labeled, and the & # 39; Flyover & # 39; function of the app displayed images that were very distorted. In the midst of the failed rollout, at least one manager was fired.
The major redesign began slowly in 2018, with Apple rolling out an updated, data-rich portion of its maps with iOS 12. Maps look significantly better, but they covered only 3.1 percent of the US, focusing on Northern California. (Vegetation was also touted as a highlight last year.)
With iOS 13, Apple continues to pay for the mistakes of the past and does so again by investing in the infrastructure needed to create an exceptional map service. Apple used hundreds of cars and aircraft with cameras and LIDAR sensors to collect data, drive 4 million miles and add hundreds more every day.
Aerial photos in particular were useful in rebuilding the earlier "Bugover" feature of the app that offers an AR-style bird's eye view of major cities. Apple ultimately hopes to bring Flyover to 350 cities around the world.
Real-time public transport information is a nice addition, including live departure times, cancellations and cancellations for public transport systems such as MTA, Amtrak, ferries and more in New York City. But Apple needs to increase its transit integration if it wants to remain competitive – not only with Google but also with Uber and Lyft, who have taken great steps in recent months to add transit details to their respective apps.
Apple Maps now gives more natural sounding directions, thanks to Siri. Instead of saying, "Turn left at 300 feet," Siri says, "turn left at the next traffic light." These new natural language directions are available in New York City from September 30. Floor plans for 500 airports and shopping centers are also available.
It is still in the early days for Apple Maps, but the product certainly looks much better. Of course, if Apple wants to convince users to switch from Google or Waze, it just has to increase the pace and map the rest of the world. Then we have a real card battle.