If you have an iPhone, I invite you to check out the Brooklyn Bridge in Apple Maps. In the 3D view, you can see how it stretches across the East River, hovering over the highway at the edge of Manhattan and over its namesake park at the tip of Brooklyn. Flip over on Apple’s flyover tour, and the camera will slowly hover around the bridge in a satellite view on a bright, sunny day, allowing you to look into the surrounding pavilion, over the trees on Liberty Island, and across the East River.
Sure, the bridge might seem a little blocky from some angles, but it’s clearly the Brooklyn Bridge—a far cry from when Apple Maps first launched and the bridge appeared to melt into the ground.
The liquefied Brooklyn Bridge was one of many irregularities — to put it mildly — from the launch of Apple Maps, a product that celebrates its 10th anniversary later this month. The app had the roughest debut of any Apple product in recent memory, but the company has invested enough to make it a great mapping app and a capable competitor to Google Maps. The changes represent one of the biggest product turnarounds of the last decade.
Apple Maps emerged from a rift between Apple and Google. It may be hard to remember now, but in the early years of the iPhone the two companies were pretty accommodating. When the iPhone was first launched, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, was Apple’s Board of DirectorsAnd Google Maps and YouTube were two of the few apps that came pre-installed on every iPhone.
However, as Google began creating an iOS competitor of its own in Android, Apple and Google evolved into bigger rivals. Maps, in particular, was in a bad spot: Google withdrew important features from the iOS version of Maps, except for iPhone users. without turn-by-turn directions, Suddenly, Apple had good reason to remove its reliance on Google, and building its own mapping app was one of its biggest breaks.
On 19 September 2012, Apple replaced the Google Maps app with its own Apple Maps app. Right from the jump, it was an absolute disaster. the statue of Liberty Mostly it was just a shadow. in Ireland, Apple mislabeled a park as an airport, passed over one of the roads Golden Gate Bridge Suspension Towers, Even though Apple Maps was one of iOS 6’s banner features, the app clearly wasn’t ready for prime time.
Apple rushed to fix the most obvious errors immediately afterwards. But the situation was so bad that just 11 days after Apple Maps was launched, CEO Tim Cook (who had only been in the role for a little over a year at the time) opened a remarkable apologizing for the half-hearted launch. published the letter. ,
“At Apple, we strive to create world-class products that provide our customers with the best possible experience,” Cook wrote, “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short of this commitment. We are deeply sorry for the disappointment this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.” one month later, iOS software chief Scott Forstall firedallegedly for refusing to sign that letter, Apple also reportedly fired a senior manager in the Maps team Soon after Forstall left,
Stumbling off the starting line, Apple began a long and winding road to improving Maps. At first there were little things, like fixing them The originally distorted Brooklyn Bridge and the missing Statue of Liberty, But the app was still far behind in terms of basic features and mapping quality, so Apple began scooping up companies to help fix major holes. was a crowd location data company, offered a couple Transit Apps, One was a GPS startup,
This helped Apple move away from key features. iOS 7 added a hint to help users improve the service by sharing their frequently visited places, Public transport directions finally added iOS 9. with In 2015, three years after the introduction of Apple Maps. The app has received a major redesign a year later It made navigation a lot better in iOS 10. Apple adds indoor navigation in iOS 11, (it changed app icon To also show the company’s spacecraft complex that year.)
But the company could only go so far. Apple Maps still wasn’t even close to Google, and that was partly because it relied on third party data For what is shown in Maps. So, starting in 2018 with iOS 12 — six years after Maps first launched — Apple began Rebuild maps with your own data, Contains a deep investment In Anywhere Mapping Apple wanted to improve its coverage. The company began shipping its mapping vans loaded with lidar arrays, cameras and an iPad connected to a dashboard. also posted “Pedestrian Survey,” Or people on foot, to collect data. some are equipped With backpacks full of sensors,
Rollout of new maps was slow — started with bay area of california – But the updated maps looked much better. They made nature more visible, green patches highlighted parks and forest areas more thoroughly, and also made it easier to differentiate between roads, thanks to the different sizes and additional labels. you can see some examples In this blog from Justin O’Bernewho largely tracked the progress of better maps.
Took it to Apple January 2020 To say it covered America with completely new, redesigned maps (a little later than it anticipated) end of 2019) but Apple hasn’t refreshed the way Maps looks. In recent releases, it has also begun to add a lot more functionality. Apple introduces a Google Street View-like mode called Look Around so you can see places at street level in iOS 13 in 2019, It also added real-time transit directions and the ability to share your ETA with friends in the same release.
With iOS 14, Apple introduced cycling directionSome Google Maps have it too for a very long timeand EV routing, which can be useful if The long-standing Apple Car sometimes results. In iOS 15Apple added beautiful 3D details in a handful of cities, augmented reality walking directions (in some cities as well), and improved driving directions. And there’s a bigger Maps feature set to come with iOS 16. multi-stop routingSo that you can find directions for trips with more than one stop.
All of this is to say that Apple is speeding up how fast it offers features in Apple Maps, and I think the product is a lot better for it: For me, in Portland, Oregon, Apple Maps Became my go-to Maps app a few years back. Yes, I agree that the experience is much better as my primary devices of choice are the iPhone and MacBook Air, but for what I need, Apple Maps almost always leads me in the right direction.
You’ll see I said approx. While Apple has caught up to Google Maps on several fronts, it is still deprived of the ability to download maps for offline access. Until Apple adds it, I’ll be downloading Google Maps for long trips away from home so I can save a map of where I live.
I’m also fortunate enough to have access to Apple Maps while living in a major metropolitan area in the US. A colleague of mine in Europe is not happy that Apple still doesn’t provide cycle directions in Amsterdam, cycling capital of the world, And Apple’s redesigned Maps is only available in a handful of countries outside the US, including UK, Canada, AustraliaAnd New ZealandEven though Apple first started talking about the new maps in 2018.
Even though it still has room to grow (Apple, please leave the Yelp integration for the reviews!), nearly 10 years after Maps was released, the company has changed it from a complete joke to a very useful one for many. . If you had told me that this would have been the case on the day Maps launched, I can’t believe I would have believed you. But here we are, and Apple Maps follows xkcd Recently wrote, good now,
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