Tag Archives: apple maps

Apple is Finally Taking Full Ownership of its Maps.

On Friday, Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch posted a great article about Apple’s new ambitions for its Maps platform. This article isn’t short, but it is well worth the read, especially if you are familiar with Apple’s early struggles with Maps after its release.

I definitely remember the iOS 6 Beta and release very well, which was honestly a disappointment all the way around. iOS 5 was the first Developer Beta that I ran on my devices, so I was very excited when it came time to load iOS 6. Unfortunately, it was really nothing more than iOS 5.5, and a big reason for that was the amount of time Apple put into releasing what turned out to be a poor Maps app. All of the above left a bad taste in a lot of mouths at the time, even among hardcore Apple fans like me. In fact, the last time I seriously considered moving to another mobile OS was after the announcement of iOS 6.

Apple has certainly come a long way since then, and to be honest, so has Maps. The app was revamped with a much better interface a couple of years ago, and there has been a slow but steady stream of improvements over the last five. We have better traffic information, lane guidance, transit information, and more comprehensive business and place locations now. Maps still isn’t a true rival to Google Maps, but it is a good app and service in its own right at this point. Apple turned it from a joke into a solid and relatable app.

What makes me happy about this article is that Apple seems to recognize that good just isn’t good enough. For years many of us, including myself, have wondered about how Apple’s employees and executives views some of its products. They speak in nothing but superlatives during their events, even when they were talking about the original version of Maps, and they still do this in regards to Siri. That has always made me wonder if they actually understand how their users and fans view their products. Do they really believe the marketing hype they spout during the presentations?

According to Mr Panzarino, this initiative to rebuild Maps has been going on for four years now. Apple hasn’t said a word about it until now, but there have been clues out there for us to find. Their Apple Maps vans have been spotted on the road back to 2015. I guess we all just assumed that they work working on place data or just making corrections. In reality, they have been rebuilding their entire mapping database from the ground up, which is obviously a huge undertaking.

This new Maps initiative is a very important step for Apple. It shows that they are willing to put their enormous pile of cash were their mouth is. When they need to build something and own it, they are going to do it themselves. The best part is that they have been willing to play the long game here. We haven’t even seen any of the fruit of all of this work they are putting into this new map database yet. It will all roll out over the next year, and I am definitely excited to see it.

Another detail from the article worth noting is that Apple’s focus on privacy remains at the heart of the work they are doing on Maps. The data is encrypted when collected, and the people doing the work never seen any private information from individuals, cars, houses, etc that make their way into the data set. All of this information either is removed or obscured before anyone ever sees it. Even if we opt in to allow out data to be used to improve Maps or help with traffic information, it is always anonymous. It is good to see Apple proving that their strict user privacy policies aren’t holding them back from delivering the good in mapping.

While I am happy that Maps should take a much bigger step forward than any of us expected coming into this year. I am even more interested in the thought process behind these changes. If Apple is willing to put four years into improving Maps for a rollout we haven’t even seen yet, then it gives me hope that they are doing the exact same thing with Siri right now. As important as Maps is, Siri, AI, and machine learning are even more vital to the future of Apple and their products. Even though we haven’t seen the evidence, maybe they are taking the same kind of “all the way” replacement approach to Siri, as well. I’ve been wondering when the positive results all of the acquisitions and hires would show up. Maybe our patience will be rewarded sooner than later. This also gives me a good feeling that Apple’s coming video service and content will be done right from the beginning.

As much money and resources as Apple has at their disposal, it has been strange to see them struggle so much in certain areas. Whether it was culture, lack of leadership, hubris, impatience, or other reasons, they have never been the best at any service offering beyond the original rollout of iTunes many years ago. As critical as services will be to the future of the company, it is good to see that Tim Cook and Apple’s leadership do see the problems and are working on them. We may not see the results as fast as we want them, but if the solutions are as comprehensive as what Mr Panzarino describes, then we will likely be happy with the results.

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Maps is Back Up, But Yesterday’s Outage Shows That Apple Still Has Work To Do

There has been a lot of talk about Apple’s growing suite of Services over the last year, and the fact that they, rather than hardware, may be the future profit center of the company. However, yesterday’s Apple Maps search and directions outage was a wake-up call that the company’s cloud offerings aren’t quite there yet.

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Apple Hiring Google’s Former AI Chief Is REALLY Big News, But Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Photo Source: CNBC

So Apple made a bit of a splash out of nowhere this week. Google originally released a statement that John Giannandrea, their former Chief of Search and AI, would be taking a step back, but still working on some projects for them. However, it wasn’t long after when Apple turned the tables and announced that they had actually hired Mr Giannandrea to head up their machine learning and AI efforts. It’s a high profile and MUCH needed win for a company that has faced continuous challenges in this space.

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Apple Slices- The Calm Before the Storm

Apple news has been fast and furious the last two weeks, but this week things seem to have gone into neutral. There is no shortage of WWDC Keynote predictions, and there are the obligatory “Apple is Doomed!!!!” articles, as usual this time of year. I will have none of that here, so I will keep it brief this week and stick to actual news.

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Apple Maps Favorites Improved in iOS 10

Apple Maps iOS 10 3

I’ve wanted to use Apple Maps before, but it took a few years before it was really a practical option in the city of Toronto. The first few years, Apple’s 3D view made the city look post-apocalyptic because it hadn’t fully rendered all of the buildings yet. The gas station near my parents’ place looked like it was two blocks away from its actual location. However, I’ve always thought the biggest flaw of Apple Map was the way it handled Favorites (I’m spelling the word the American way because that’s also how Apple Maps does it…even in Canada).

I mark Favorites for two reasons: so I can easily identify awesome restaurants and useful businesses on the map, and for mapping out exciting places in a city I’m going to travel to. I’ve based this behaviour on years of Google Maps usage, where you can “Save” a location and have it show up as a yellow star on the map. These saved locations are always visible, and this makes a lot of sense to me. It makes the digital map a lot more personal — the cartographic equivalent of scribbling in the margins.

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