Slowly, but steadily, Apple is working to make its Maps app as useful as Google Maps.
With the upcoming iOS 8 update, Apple is gearing up to make its biggest changes yet to Maps with the addition of transit directions and a slew of new data from a variety of sources, sources tell 9to5Mac.
Currently, Apple’s Maps app points you to third-party apps for transit directions, which is a major headache for city travel. It sounds like Apple is looking to integrate the transit details right alongside the walking and driving directions — similar to the way Google Maps handles transit.
Apple snapped up Embark and Hopstop last year, so it’s not a huge surprise to hear that transit directions are going to be a big focus for iOS 8. Those apps will also be integrated into Apple’s Maps application to offer more reliable data, 9to5Mac’s sources say. (I’m just looking forward to finally having visible subway stations in the Maps app.)
If true, the updates would solve plenty of headaches for iPhone and iPad owners. Apple famously dumped Google’s mapping data back in 2012 and launched its own Maps app with iOS 6. But while it offered some slick 3D visuals, Apple’s Maps app failed where it mattered most: having accurate data. It often had trouble finding specific key locations, and it wasn’t very reliable when it came to navigating traffic.
Mostly, the errors stemmed from Apple’s complete inexperience in the mapping arena. Google had years of mapping experience after launching Google Maps in 2005 — Apple, on the other hand, only got started with maps with the acquisition of Placebase in 2009. Many expected Apple to take years to fully resolve its mapping issues (Apple’s Maps still isn’t reliable enough for me to use in NYC).
Apple’s biggest reason for improving Maps? Google ended up capitalizing on all of Apple’s mapping woes with the launch of its standalone Google Maps iOS app, which managed to reach 10 million downloads in just two days.
9to5Mac notes that Apple is also exploring things like augmented reality and improved indoor navigation for future versions of its Maps app.