Apple Is Rebuilding Maps From the Ground-Up

Posted on June 29, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple with 22 Comments

Apple is finally fixing Maps. The company has been working on rebuilding Maps for the last 4 years, revealing the details about the upcoming changes for the first time to TechCrunch.

Maps has been powered by a bunch of data from third-party partners for years, and Apple claims that’s the reason behind Maps being so bad at almost everything — from navigation to providing up-to-date data. With the new Maps, Apple will collect its own data — and that’s literally Apple’s main approach towards fixing Maps. The company has deployed a ton of Apple Maps vans in the United States that will collect data for Maps, which will be used to deliver better search results, improve navigation, and just the overall view of the area around you in Maps.

For the first time ever, though, Apple will make use of the millions of iPhones to gather data for Maps. The company will track your journeys when the Maps app is open, and send that data back to its clouds, without destroying your privacy. Apple’s Eddy Cue says iPhones will only share relevant location data about parts of your journeys–and not the entire journey–so your privacy remains intact, and you can still contribute to keeping Maps updated with new data when necessary. All of this combined will not only allow Apple to collect more up-to-date data, but it will also be able to correct the data in near real-time which is apparently not possible with the current Maps as it relies on third-party data.

The new Maps will not include a visual redesign, though. You will see richer Maps data, improved navigation, and an improved Search feature that displays increased relevant data, but Apple isn’t working on a visual redesign only to prevent confusion. That could possibly come after the firm is done collecting Maps data, however.

Apple will first launch the new Maps in San Francisco and the Bay Area with the next iOS 12 beta, and cover North California by Fall. For the rest of the country, Apple will continue to gather data over the next year and update Maps as it progresses. And for the rest of the world? Who knows. Gathering maps data for every country in the world, or even only the largest countries, will be one long process that could take years for Apple to complete.

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Apple Is Rebuilding Maps From the Ground-Up”

  1. robinbrown

    I’ve see the new Apple maps vans in the U.K. this month. On holiday down in Cornwall they were waiting to get into the car park of the tourist attraction we were visiting. Plenty of gizmos on the roof the van.

  2. MacLiam

    The Apple Maps version of my neighborhood is so ludicrous that if they want me to go out and walk it with my iPhone gobbling satellite signals in my pocket, I'm willing to do that. Or they could just take the existing satphoto overlay and cut or bend their map lines to fit the actual location of the easily visible streets. Maybe they would then see that the big round spot on the next hill over is actually a cul-de-sac, and not just a wide spot in the road they drew that corresponds with nothing except (for part of its length) a drive aisle in the adjacent Primary School.

    Or they could just compare their map to the Google Map, and (after independent confirmation, of course) redraw their maps to correspond at least 99 percent with Google's street dimensioning and positioning.

  3. markbyrn

    Google must laugh at the fumbling, bumbling, and pie-in-the-sky promises from the supply chain genius CEO and minions like Eddy Cue. Mr. Cook has been content all these years with a mediocre map product but now wants to use his customers to provide the Apple Mothership with "relevant location data' to 'rebuild' and spend many more years to piece-meal fix it. By the time that's done, Google Maps will have leap-frogged them and Apple Maps will still be inferior.

  4. glenn8878

    They mainly need to add satellite view. The rest will follow.

  5. Stooks

    60% of iPhone users use Maps and nothing else I recently read. It is the power of the default app.

    I tried it when it first came out and did not like it and went back to Google. It never got me lost but it lacked features like lane arrows and such back then.

    When I got my iPhone X on launch day I did not restore anything, instead I did a fresh iPhone setup. I did not install Google maps right away trying Apple maps once again. Well lots had changed in the 3 years or more? Enough that I never put Google maps back. Lots of little updates that make it perfectly good for me.

    The big advantage is that Google is not tracking my usage either.

    • Andi

      In reply to Stooks:

      I don't know about the numbers but you're right about one thing. The majority of iphone users use Apple's defaults(which you cannot change).

      What you missed though, is another category of Apple users. The kind that are willing to use Apple's inferior solution just to see Apple win. Those are Apple fanboys.

      BTW as of the new app Apple is also tracking you just like Google even though Apple's PR says otherwise.

      • Jeffsters

        In reply to Andi:

        If you had an IPhone, which I suspect you do not, go ahead and Google a company and click on the address to map it or get directions. If you have Google Maps installed it will open in Google Maps. No setting to change or option to tap, which actually pisses me off, as I don’t want to use Google Maps.

        What you missed was the poster was making a comment based on their use of both maps and a resulting preferences. You however took it as an opportunity to make a silly generalization and insult.

        BTW, Apple’s data collection and use are well documented by Apple with a firm and unequivocal promise and commitment not to share or sell your data. Google who’s entire business is data only provides tools that give them data. Good example, as we just read yesterday, their sharing of Gmail accounts and content to other companies who allowed employees to read them. And before you share further ignorance I work in the consumer big data space and know first hand what Google sells.

        Use what ever you like!

        • Andi

          In reply to Jeffsters:

          Google does not sell your data. Tim Cook scroogled you as well. Google Maps is currently the best mapping solution on Earth. Apple users always pride with using the best, except when Apple is the one providing the inferior service(icloud, iphotos, maps). Every fanboy tries and justifies how they like the interface, how they don't like their data sold(false), all in service to Apple.

          Regarding GMail, the WSJ story you allude to has been rebuked by Google. No one is reading your Gmails.

  6. Martin Pelletier

    Then after that, a search engine?

  7. cchubbuck

    Honestly though...I think Apple Maps is like Vista...people heard so many bad things about it they say it sucks without even trying it. I've had more than one situation where it led me to the valid location and Google did not...sounds crazy, I was shocked myself, but I was in the middle of rural Mississippi and Google's data was WAY off base.

    It still keep Google Maps as well as Waze on my phone, but Apple is far from the useless piece of crap it gets called by the masses.

  8. rameshthanikodi

    I just love the fact that Apple started this out of spite for google and now they're stuck with a shitty product for years along with investing in an app that they clearly aren't very interested in making in the first place.


    "Apple will make use of the millions of iPhones to gather data for Maps. The company will track your journeys when the Maps app is open, and send that data back to its clouds, without destroying your privacy."

    Good luck trying to convince people.

    • Jeffsters

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      They didn’t “start it out of spite” they determined that some features, such as Maps, were key to a smartphone and couldn’t allow themselves to be at the mercy of a competitor. If you use the Google and look back, Google allowed the iOS version to fall far behind Android and stopped updating apps such as YouTube so Apple did what it needed to do. No spite...good business. The mistake was trying to go fast and using Tom Tom and NavQ data but then again it would have taken years otherwise so it made time to market sense.

      As for privacy...what ever makes you feel better!

    • Chris Payne

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      I don't think they'll have a problem because 1) Apple fans are rabid and 2) Waze already does this and people love it.

  9. Sykeward

    Apple Maps was a tragedy for a really long time, but the version in iOS 11 specifically is a vast improvement. I actually switched away from Google Maps for my daily commuting here in PDX because the traffic information/arrival time is almost always more accurate. I'm interested to see how this revamp pans out.

  10. abdulla77

    Now that Apple (finally!) enabled 3rd party app support, including map apps in the iOS12, I can't see the possibility of Apple Maps even surviving after that. Apple needs years to catch up even with their mountains of cash.. It's not an issue of just collecting data but the whole functionalities of the app, needs a complete overhaul. Can't they just call it a truce with Google and keep it as the system default?

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