Apple Maps crashed and burned coming off the runway in iOS 6, but new additions in iOS 8 beta 3 show Apple’s had a change of heart, and is even making it easier for Apple Maps users to jump to Google Maps and other services thanks to some new UI tweaks.
Starting in iOS 8, users will be able to run a search for locations in Apple Maps and use either Apple’s own driving and walking directions, or switch directly to another app already installed on your device via a simplified menu.
Two years after Apple replaced Google with its own Maps app in iOS 6, the last remnant of Google Maps in Apple’s ecosystem is getting the boot. Apple has begun switching to its own mapping service for the Find My iPhone web app on iCloud.com.
The change isn’t visible for everyone yet, but it can be seen from the beta version of iCloud.com where Apple tests upcoming features.
USA! USA! On this festive 4th-of-July CultCast: Apple prepares to kill-off Aperture and iPhoto; Siri might soon understand us all better; Apple maps stops getting you lost; and did you know Steve Jobs always ate lunch alone like a sad Keanu? We’ll tell you the story. Plus, we reveal our favorite 4th activities, and a weird breakthrough app has us texting Hodor to all our friends! Gods be good.
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Since it was first released as part of iOS 6, Apple Maps has gotten a partially deserved bad rap. Although nowhere near as bad as it was at release, Apple Maps has a reputation for being unreliable compared to options like Google Maps.
One thing that was particularly frustrating about Apple Maps at release was the fact that while the app invited users to report incorrect locations and results, nothing ever seemed to happen with those reports. So if Apple gave you incorrect directions, it might take months for the error to be fixed.
But a thread on Reddit offers what appears to be conclusive proof that Apple has gotten its act together about Maps. According to the thread, Apple is now pushing through error corrections in Apple Maps on a daily basis.
Apple didn’t tell anyone during WWDC, but it wants iOS 8 to be the ultimate city tour guide.
Cupertino is adding a new Flyover City Tours feature to its Maps app. And even though the code has been hidden, developer Pierre Blazquez managed to unearth it from the latest iOS 8 beta release to give us a preview of the new feature that’s still in development.
Flyover tours are currently only available for Rome, Stockholm, Barcelona, New York, Paris and a few other cities, but in a video posted by Mac4Ever, we’ve been given our first glimpse of the tours in action.
Apple Maps may not shed any light on how Stonehenge was constructed (my personal favorite theory is that it was a particularly rubbish-sounding ancient team-building event), but it can now give you a beautiful 3D view of the ancient stone circle.
In early 2012, Apple acquired Chomp, largely to fix the broken search, recommendation and discovery features of the iOS App Store.
Two years later, app discovery on the iOS App Store remains pretty much as broken as ever. Maybe that’s why Cathy Edwards, Chomp’s co-founder who went on, post-acquisition, to become Director of Evaluation and Quality on Apple Maps, is leaving Apple come April 11.
Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California (image taken by Benjamin Feenstra)
It was widely reported in January that Apple was in talks to buy Waze, an Israeli startup with a hugely popular maps app. Waze was rumored to be asking Apple for $750 million. The same outlet that broke the acquisition rumor quickly backpedaled and said no such deal was taking place. Google ended up buying Waze in June for $1 billion.
And so goes the buyout game in Silicon Valley, a power play where tech giants like Apple and Google court hot startups with the hopes of adding them to their war chests.
Apple had its biggest year ever for acquisitions in 2013, with a record 15 smaller companies joining the fold. A dozen of them have now been publicly disclosed.
For an entity as secretive as Apple, examining the companies it buys is one of the only ways to peek into its future plans. When AuthenTec, a company that specialized in fingerprint readers and identification software, was purchased in July 2012, speculation immediately followed. What did Apple want with fingerprint sensors? The answer ended up being obvious, and the technology debuted in Touch ID in September 2013.
Often the outcome of an Apple acquisition isn’t so immediately apparent.
Historically, Apple acquires far fewer companies than its competitors. But the line is starting to blur. Google publicly bought three times as many companies as Apple in 2012 and not even twice as many in 2013. Apple bought more companies than Microsoft in 2013.
So what does all of this say about Apple’s future?
It’s come a long way from its disastrous early days (although there is still the occasional tendency to direct someone the wrong way up an airport taxiway), but Apple Maps may finally be taking the lead over its competitors — if you’re inclined to believe Apple’s latest patent.
The patent — recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office — was filed May 31 this year, and applies to an “Interactive Map” application, which would display multiple layers of information regarding local landmarks.