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.