Apple Maps has never been the app it should be, prompting many users to use apps like Google Maps or Waze. In iOS12, however, a redesigned version of the Maps app will make its debut.
Maps was released with iOS6, but was met with frustration from users. This prompted Tim Cook, Apple’s current CEO, to issue an apology about a week after its release.
Apple is working to create a more complete version of maps that more closely resembles the world that users are living in. This starts with more colorful, detailed maps, and more accurate building sizes. Other features include real-time road and construction updates, better pedestrian and bike directions and more precise address locations.
One of the most important pieces Apple will focus on is “the last 50 feet of your trip.” Locations are more accurate, and things like entrances and parking lots are on the map. The app won’t just take you to wherever you’re going, it will help you actually get there. At least, that’s the idea.
Some of the issues with the Maps app comes from the use of third-party data. Now, Apple is moving toward using only first-party data, collected in a few ways:
- Mac computers and cameras mounted on Apple cars that have been roaming the country for the last four years.
- Millions of user iPhones as they use Apple Maps
- Satellite data to combine with ground data
This raises questions about privacy – if Apple is collecting data from your iPhones, are they tracking where you are going? The answer here is no. Apple is being very transparent about privacy, as we heard at WWDC this summer. They are not identifying user data or tying it back to users in any way. Additionally, the data gathering software breaks your trip up into sections and deletes both the first and last section (your start and destination). The remaining sections are randomly selected to be used for data gathering.
In simpler terms: Apple does not know where you come from or where you go, and they won’t even know that it’s you.
The new version of Maps will launch in the San Francisco area as part of the next iOS12 beta, and will cover Northern California soon after. Eventually, the coverage will expand to the entire country so that everyone can reap the benefits of the new service. Apple Maps has the potential to be a world-class service, but Apple has not put enough effort into it yet. Fortunately, after years of waiting, Apple has decided that it is time to give the app the attention it deserves.
That’s not to say that there have been no improvements to the Maps app over the years. With transit directions, traffic indicators and more accurate travel times, the app is far better than it was. Overall, there is still a lot of ground between Apple Maps and other navigation apps.