Apple’s biggest failure in the history of iOS, Maps, is finally getting some much-needed attention. According to sources familiar with the matter, the iPad maker is on track to add transit directions with the launch of iOS 8. Additionally, Apple has been snatching up map service startups in order to bolster its reliability across the globe. Maybe this time, Maps will get it right.
According to 9to5Mac, unnamed sources claim that Apple is working on improvements to Maps for the next major iOS update. The company is putting a lot of effort into making the native mapping application something that will eventually live up to the “incredibly high standards of Apple’s customers.”
In 2012, Apple launched iOS 6, and with it Apple’s Maps app (replacing the familiar Google Maps). With all of the sleek graphics and smooth interface, Apple forgot to actually make a reliable mapping service. Unaware drivers were literally lost in the desert thanks to Apple Maps.
Because of the terrible taste that the launch left in our mouths, many users have never gone back to Apple Maps. Once Google launched its third-party app, Maps became a source of bitter resentment.
Today, it would take a lot of impressive changes to get me to go back to Maps. I go out of my way to use Google Maps to get directions and find locations. If Apple wants to win me, and others like me, back, Maps is going to need more than just a fresh coat of paint and more gas stations in the database.
According to 9to5Mac, one of those big changes coming later this year is the addition of transit directions. Currently, Google offers directions based on public transportation, but Apple is still behind the times for that service.
Supposedly, transit directions in Maps will allow the user to get routes for public transportation, including trains, subways, busses, and more. The feature will first be available in major cities, but will expand across the U.S., and later the world, as time goes by.
Transit directions will show up next to the directions options next to the Drive and Walk options. When viewing a map, users will be able to choose transit routes as one of the optional map overlays.
“When a user chooses to receive transit directions in the iOS 8 Maps app, a translucent panel slides up from the bottom of the Maps app with a list of different routes, according to the sources briefed on the application. Each route uses icons to notate the method of transportation (for example, a bus or train). The left side of the route choice panels share the departure and arrival times, and the right side notes the travel time. The transit view is said to split the screen between the routes list and the map so that users can also visually see the provided routes.”
Even more important, Apple has plans to improve data for Maps, which is the real problem with the mapping service. The company has recently acquisitioned several mapping service companies, like BroadMap, Embark, and HopStop. The idea is that Apple will use these companies’ help to upgrade and enhance data in Maps to make it more reliable.
Maps will also have more points of interest, new labels to make airports, parks, trans stations, bus stops, and highways easier to find. The apps’ cartography design will be altered slightly to make the maps cleaner and make streets more visible.
Apple still hasn’t given me a reason to switch to Maps and drop Google. Maybe iOS 8 will offer the revamp that Maps needs to impress me.