While iOS 8 has seen tons of improvements — from FaceTime call waiting to the ability to purchase iTunes content using Siri — there’s one area that hasn’t seen a major overhaul: Apple Maps.
Although the new version of Maps does now offer vector maps and other improvements in China, as well as a feature designed to give owners the ability to add more indoor positioning data, this was reportedly nowhere near what Apple originally had planned for the next version of its mobile OS.
Over the past year we’ve reported on various map-related patents which seemed like they would land on iOS before long, related to innovations such as user customizable maps. There’s also been plenty of talk regarding major under-the-hood changes to improve map accuracy; adding more points of interest; overhauling labels to make locations like airports, highways and parks easier to find; changing the overall map interface to make it cleaner; and adding public transit directions.
So why didn’t anything like this happen? According to sources the problems may have been the result of internal politics and generally chaotic project management.
“Many developers left the company, no map improvements planned for iOS 8 release were finished in time,” one source told TechCrunch. “Mostly it was failure of project managers and engineering project managers, tasks were very badly planned, developers had to switch multiple times from project to project.”
Another source offered the view that, “I would say that planning, project management and internal politics issues were a much more significant contributor to the failure to complete projects than developers leaving the group.”
While Apple Maps is nowhere near the mess that it was in its earlier incarnations, and actually works fine in many situations, there is no doubt that this is an area Apple wants to focus on: particularly since the rival Google Maps app continues to get better and better all the time.
Hopefully we’ll see a big leap in quality going forwards, particularly off the back of recent developments like Apple’s acquisition of Spotsetter, which promises to make Maps more social.