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Apple Finishes Rolling Out Redesigned Maps in the US

When it made its efforts public in mid-2018, Apple had already spent four years overhauling its Maps data in the United States (see “Apple Is Overhauling Maps,” 29 June 2018). Now Apple says it has finished, and the improved US maps are available for all Maps users. Next on Apple’s radar is a set of improved maps for Europe. If you haven’t used Maps in a while, give it a try, since it has added substantially more detail with this update, as you can see in Apple’s animation.

An animation showing the new maps vs the old mapsApple also noted that it has expanded support for Look Around, Apple’s answer to Google Street View. Look Around now supports New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, and Oahu, with more cities on the way.

Look Around on an iPad

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Comments About Apple Finishes Rolling Out Redesigned Maps in the US

Notable Replies

  1. Maybe they’ll finish the first round by 2030, when Asia gets fully Look Arounded!

    Sure, it must be a hard job, but Google Maps’ full feature set is still miles ahead of Apple Maps, unfortunately.

    IMO, Apple need to throw more resources into the project, both to complete the international perspective properly, but also the features and their implementation needs looking at too (a hate for me is getting thrown out of Maps to Yelp app for quick review reading; bad user experience).

  2. The Lookaround system is perhaps more widespread than expected. I saw a car a couple of months go in a suburb of Newcastle, Australia, with a camera tower on top, and a label on the door saying it was Apple. Sadly, I did not have my phone with me at the time to take a picture. :frowning:

  3. Apple Maps doesn’t produce revenue directly; it exists to help sell its mobile devices. Here’s how Google makes money:

    Apple never originally intended to develop a mapping application. Google Maps was initially introduced to run on iPhones, and it was part of a deal that included Google being the default Safari search engine. Then one day Steve Jobs was blindsided with the news that Google Maps would be releasing turn by turn spoken directions for the recently released Android OS, and that they would never do so for iOS. And they clearly implied that they were planning to phase out development for Maps for iOS and Maps. This was a HUGE competitive blow for Apple, and Jobs was forced to rush out and buy/cobble together its own mapping app ASAP. It was one of the first major challenges Tim Cook was faced with when he first joined Apple:

    And it also the time that Apple began aggressively emphasizing privacy and security as selling points for their devices and services.

    But neither Jobs or Cook were ever about wimping out out on a dare. The unceremoniously dumped Google as the default Mac and iOS search engine, and even though they knew Bing sucked in comparison, sold the rights to Microsoft for about what Google was paying. This dealt a huge, unanticipated blow to Google’s bottom line. For a few years there was a significant amount of griping in the press and online about Bing (including on TidBITS Talk), but Google lost so much revenue it was forced to relent in the end. In 2019, Google paid $9.4 billion to Apple for rights to be the default search for Safari in 1998, and it’s estimated Google paid at least $12 billion in 1999.

    The new numbers should be out shortly.

  4. Yes, I knew all that. But it’s good to remind others of the history here, so thanks.

    But when we’re talking about the actual quality (and quantity in this case; it needs to do more functionally and cover international areas much better too) of the Apple Maps product, it effectively reiterates just how unimportant in the grander scheme of things Apple really currently consider Apple Maps to be, given Google have relented and succeed on the iOS platform.

    It’s a long game of course, as these map platforms will be here in decades in various forms. But the lack of spending enough resources (even billions is nothing, if you’re still miles behind the competition in terms of real usable everyday decent features, and their actual implementation), means AM is likely never going to get even close to GM anytime soon/ever.

    That’s not to say AM is unusable or has nothing going for it. Far from it, I really like Look Around as I suspect many others do (just need more of it!), and I’m sure the Apple Maps staff are really hard working putting the massively time-consuming thing together, the best they can. But the overall larger feature set is still massively lacking, and that’s the point I’m making in Apple not doing enough or really wanting to do more very quickly, by throwing enough resources at it, in the face of Google’s maps position on the iOS platform.

    It seems obvious that Apple keep the AM product ticking along at a slow-medium development pace, as a sort-of incentive to Google to not do Android-only features or otherwise offer diminished iOS GM features that would undermine the iOS platform as a whole.

  5. During the past year Google has come under increasing pressure from the EU about Google Maps and advertising:

    “After the Android ruling last year, Google for the first time began charging handset makers to pre-install Gmail, Google Maps and other popular applications for Android devices in the European Union.”

    To top it off, there’s this recent development from Huawai:

    "But now the Chinese company appears to have found a replacement for at least one of the search giant’s key services, confirming that it’s secured a Google Maps alternative by entering a partnership that will see navigation specialists TomTom provide maps, live traffic information and software for Huawei smartphones, as reported by Reuters.

    “As TomTom is based in the Netherlands, Huawei is able to skirt the US government’s trade ban, which prevents the Chinese phone maker from dealing with American companies.”

    A few years ago there was a lot of noise about Samsung developing its own app, which never really got off the ground. But Samsung continues to make it a PITA to set up Google Maps or Waze apps, and they historically don’t play nice with Bixby. So I think this one is a wait and see.

    Google should fasten its seat belts, Maps is in for a bumpy ride.

  6. Interesting. Most techie Android users would root the device and put GM straight on it, so Huawai can do what they want, but how far they’ll get is questionable, certainly in mature (non-Chinese) markets.

    But when it comes down to it, with regards to Apple device users, it’s essentially a two horse race in general mapping usage: AM vs. GM (with their Waze as a driving directions only extra).

    And in that regard, for the reasons I said, GM still has way more to offer at this time, and Apple are slow on their overall upgrading of AM.

  7. If you use an Apple Watch, the haptic feedback on your wrist for directions makes Apple Maps the choice in most circumstances.

  8. I don’t know why or how this didn’t get much coverage. I think that Google is in for some major turbulence:

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