Apple Maps bombed when it first launched and replaced Google Maps in iOS 6. It was so bad that screenshots of mangled streets, stories of failed directions and more began to populate the Internet within just hours of its release. Apple was embarrassed by the whole ordeal. Scott Forstall left his executive position in the company and CEO Tim Cook eventually issued an apology to customers. While Apple Maps has slowly improved, a big update is expected in iOS 8 later this year, 9to5Mac said Tuesday. A concept screen shot drafted by the site is posted above.
Apple is focusing on improving the data available inside Apple Maps so that users can expect a more robust and accurate experience. It will use its recent acquisition of HopStop to provide better public transit direction data, 9to5Mac said, and will also build-in technology that it acquired when it purchased Embark and BroadMap. That means that there should be more points of interest available for major transit locations, one area where Google does a particularly good job with Google Maps.
The first cities with beefed up public transit data will include Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, 9to5Mac explained. The news site also said a user interface with a panel that pops up from the bottom of the display will show a user the different available routes and transit times, though also noted that it will be possible to check route data for a specific time and date in the future. Augmented Reality (AR) will also play a role, though its current use case scenario sounds a bit more like Google Maps Street View combined with some of what we’ve already seen in Nokia HERE Maps. So far, augmented reality has felt half-baked at best, and it will apparently take Apple a couple of years to add this option.
Apple Maps certainly has stiff competition. Nokia HERE won’t sit still, nor will Google Maps, which adds new features regularly. At least we now know that Apple has big plans for the smaller companies it acquired recently. iOS 8 should launch at the same time as its next iPhone, which is expected in the fall.