Apple’s Maps service is hugely important. Location and knowledge about different locations is a secret sauce that binds so many future IoT product development plans together, from news app to ride sharing and tomorrow’s road transport. In a recent interview with TechCrunch, Apple’s vice presidnet of services, Eddy Cue, promised the following improvements to Maps beginning in iOS 12.
Apple Maps in iOS 12: What to expect
“The best map app in the world”
Apple hopes to make Maps the “best” mapping app in the world, Cue promised.
Root and branch
Apple plans to eventually rebuild its service using its own data rather than relying on information from external providers. This should mean updates and changes to road layouts will be made much more quickly than at present. The data has been gathered over the last few years by the company's international fleet of Apple Cars.
Same old Maps
Apple is retaining the existing Maps user interface for now.
Maps improvements will show up in San Francisco first. Expect to see more detailed maps around California’s Bay Area in the next iOS 12 beta, with these new Maps scheduled to go U.S.-wide over the next year.
These improvements won’t be U.S. only. Cue didn’t promise anything, but he said “thousands” of people are working on these improvements all over the world. That certainly hints at international plans.
Better at roads
Apple Maps will be better at identifying changes to roads and spotting new construction, and it will provide useful tools such as correctly guiding travellers to the front door of new places.
Parking areas are also on the map.
Better for walkers
Walkers can expect better information about pedestrian pathways, foliage, pools, and so on.
Better for sports and recreation
Sports areas, building shapes, and places of interest should be better represented.
Where’s the door?
Maps will take you to the front entrance of anywhere you wish to be guided to.
Expect more information about local and regional landmarks.
Apple’s system removes confidential information such as images of people or car number plates from any images it gathers, but it is capable of showing you what road signs look like.
Apple has licensed the typefaces used on subway signs, and the information you see on Maps will look identical to the signs you see in the station.
Things like swimming pools and other bodies of water will show on the map.
Where does the data come from?
Apple Maps data will come from anonymized iPhone data, Apple Car-collected information, and satellite images. (To build its data stack, Apple is enabling anonymised maps data collection from iPhones.)
What kind of data do Apple Cars collect?
Apple’s fleet of Maps vehicles are gathering all kinds of information, including location, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data.
TechCrunch says the data is of good enough quality to begin training autonomous vehicles, which Apple will inevitably do once it unlocks the many complex challenges to such a task. It observes the mapping rig atop the vehicles is more sophisticated than those used on other mapping vehicles.
Apple’s system will provide a much-improved version of Flyover, including human-edited accurate 3D renderings of places.
Apple Street view?
Maps will also include high-res panoramic images and details such as landmarks and road signs, but Apple hasn’t promised a street view competitor yet.
How many floors?
Apple’s measuring tools can even figure out how many floors a building has.
Apple’s decision to base Maps on its own data also means the service can be updated in near-real time in response to new information.
Siri will be able to warn you when it is time to leave based on how long it thinks the journey will take.
Private by design
You’ll be able to use Apple Maps to go from A to B without subsequently being subjected to localized advertising based on that journey. Your data is not for sale. Even a Siri reminder of a journey you must take is handled privately on your device.
Apple began this particular strand of the Maps project four years ago.
Apple has even thought about cultural relevance in the sense of what local audiences expect to find in maps: U.S. users expect less visible detail than Japanese users, for example.
Apple will roll out these new features with iOS 12 across much of the U.S. The company also said these improved maps will be made available across all supported versions of its OS.
Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and get involved with the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?
Got a story? Please drop me a line via Twitter and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know about new articles I publish and reports I find.