Is Apple Maps still the laughing stock of maps apps? [Friday Night Fights]

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Is Apple Maps your first choice?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The release of Apple Maps with iOS 6 was so disastrous it led to the firing of Scott Forstall, former SVP of iOS, and to a rare public apology from CEO Tim Cook.

Friday Night Fights bug Almost four years on, Maps is in a very different place. Apple has worked hard to iron out the kinks and add new features that help the service compete with rivals like Google Maps. But is Apple Maps still the laughing stock of maps apps?

Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fights as we battle it out over the state of Apple Maps.

Mystery vans likely making 3-D road maps for Apple’s self-driving car

Mysterious unmarked vans roaming the Bay Area have been linked to Apple, and are likely generating detailed 3D maps for robot cars.
Mysterious unmarked vans roaming the Bay Area have been linked to Apple, and are likely generating detailed 3D maps for robot cars.
Photo: Business Insider/Stephen Smith

Some new data-gathering vehicles are roaming the streets of San Francisco. They’re unmarked, but are suspected to be Apple’s. They are laden with sensors, but what kind of data are they gathering, and what for?

Experts contacted by Cult of Mac say the mystery vans are next-generation mapping vehicles capable of capturing VR-style, 360-degree street photos. Plus, the vans use Lidar to create extraordinarily precise “point clouds,” a prerequisite for self-driving cars. Mesh those two databases together and you’ve laid the groundwork for an autonomous vehicle’s navigation system.

Apple hires satnav expert to improve Maps app

apple-maps-nearby-businesses
Apple's latest hire will make Maps better.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s often-ridiculed Maps app is getting some much-needed assistance, thanks to a recent new hire who helped invent the satellite navigation systems used by a bevy of automakers. 

Sinisa Durekovic, a software engineer who was the principle architect and engineer for Harman International Industries’ navigation systems, has reportedly joined Apple, and the company won’t say what he is working on.

No data, no problem: How to use Google Maps offline

Get your Google Maps to work everywhere.
Get your Google Maps to work everywhere.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac (original image: Jordan McQueen/Unsplash CC)

When you’re out in the sticks somewhere, you might get to a place where there’s no signal. How will you ever find your way home (or to the next party) without your trusty Google Maps app?

Well, with a little foresight, you can make sure Google Maps continues to be useful, even when you’re not within range of cellular data. Here’s how to use Google Maps offline to make sure you never get lost again when your smartphone goes offline.

Note: This tip will work with Android and iOS versions of Google Maps.