Regarding iOS 6 Maps and Apple handing off transit directions to apps
Before Apple unveiled the new iOS 6 Maps app at WWDC 2012, I wrote a post trying to help offset the hype and hopefully better set expectations. It seemed unlikely Apple could simply swap out Google maps data, add new features, and still keep all the original ones intact.
That's proven to be true. TomTom has replaced Google as Apple's primary map provider, but that means Google's Street View is gone. They've added free turn-by-turn navigation and put it in Street View's place, perhaps to distract people who might otherwise be frustrated by the omission.
But what about directions? That's been the source of some initial confusion, and a lot of debate. Driving and walking directions are still there, if less obviously placed behind a 90 degree turn button. Tap either tabs and you get exactly what you'd expect. Hit the public transit tab, however, and you get a list of apps that can supply that information.
No, I didn't type that incorrectly. In the iOS 6 beta there's no built-in transit directions.
Apple's view, elaborated on by SVP of iOS, Scott Forstall during the Keynote, is that developers have done such a tremendous job with public transit directions that Apple would rather hand off to them and not reinvent the data wheel.
That's great for developers but the opposite of great for users.
It's great for developers because Maps-compatible apps can be sold right from within the Apple Maps app (similar to how games can be sold right from within Game Center. That means more timely exposure for the developers -- users see the app when they need it and are more likely to buy it.
It's not so great for users because, instead of being presented with the timely data they need, they're presented with choices to make and steps to follow to eventually get to the data they need.
In an ideal iOS 6 Maps implementation, Apple would do what they usually do -- provide baseline functionality and let developers handle more advanced, more detailed, more niche requirements. iOS 6 Maps would include the same basic transit information as iOS 5 Maps did, and then offer additional content via the in-Maps App Store.
Apple usually places the needs of users ahead of the needs of developers, so this may simply be a case of Apple not being able to provide good enough transit data for numerous enough locations, forcing the absolute hand-off to apps. They could also still be working on it and have it ready for a future beta or in the Gold Master.
Otherwise the abdication of responsibility in an app as important as Maps is tough to understand, and is something Apple should consider re-visiting during the beta cycle, or in a future point revision like iOS 6.1.
Otherwise, if Google does indeed release a proper, Android-style Google Maps app in the App Store, it could prove to be a powerful alternative for those who want and need transit (and Street View) built-in.
Update: We received some screenshots highlighting the difference.
Get the best of iMore in your inbox, every day!
Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
Anyway, does anybody offers an offline map solution? That for me is more important than 3D or street view.
I just wish Apple Apple or Google would come up with a solution like that. I use Sygic, which has its own maps, but it's a bit clunky and unwieldy.
Regardless, I don't see the big deal about native turn by turn GPS apps (Apple OR Google); that's so 2009. There's tons of 3rd party apps that not only do the same thing but also preload the maps on your iPhone (in some cases): TomTom, Magellan, Sygic, Telenav (streams the data live but still a great app) and even Navigon, to name just a few. My point is, the iPhone has had this functionality for years now.
Haven't installed iOS 6 on any other devices solely because of this issue. While were testing devices around the city we rely on Google's transit capability to get us back to where we need to be. This is the first time I can actually say I've begun entertaining the future use of an Android device.
IMO Google Maps is way too overhyped. Even Nokia is better at maps than Google.
It may be different for US users but for the UK I'm really happy with this.
For my trip to work it suggests catching the 81 bus from bus stop A, riding it stop B, walking .8 of a mile to stop C catching the 44 to stop D.
Travel time 45 minutes.
I ignore it and catch the 44 at stop A (google doesn't seem to know or care that the same bus it has me catch later stops here) and get off at stop C.
Travel time 17 minutes.
What Rene is talking about is that it is that it is a hassle because it is not setup out of the box and the odds are most users won't pull up the Maps App until they need it and if they need that feature they will have to go through the hassle of picking a 3rd party app, trust the reviews of the App and maybe have to pay for it before they get the information they want. That is a huge one time hassle, but once it is done you now have the service from the third party app being provided directly in the Map App via third party integration.
Hell, if Google wanted to I am sure they could plug this hole very easily by using the APIs themselves and becoming an option. It would be free and be that trust the Google brand would hop on it before any other app offered.
The Map App will feature third party integration. The Maps App will not force you into a third party App, but the service provided by the third party app, as long as it uses the APIs provided will be integrated into the Maps App Directly.
Rene is describing the one time setup as a hassle for users because it is not there out of the box and ready for users like it has been for every iPhone to date. It has always been an out of the box experience to get going with the Native Apps and this marks the first transition from that ever.
It also creates a hassle for new users because most users aren't going to go Maps App after starting the device for the first time, let alone those upgrading.
Most users will only go to the Map App when a real world situation calls for it and that is when they will be first hit with this hassle of needing to pick a third party app that provides the service, which they have no way of testing and may even have to pay for. Once that is done, the hassle is over, but it is a lot of hassle to go through when you need real world information in a timely manor.
It is a good change for the end user because it will over users a choice, so if one service is great in NYC, but crap in San Francisco, no one is forced to use one solution. They can try and find one that fits their needs.
Google could also come in and make an app for their transit information, or use the APIs in a Google's Maps App that integrates that part of the service directly into the Maps App. People that trust the Google Brand, the experience and love the FREE price tag with Google will choose 9 times out of 10. It would be a great place for Google to on iOS.
However, Apple could totally circumvent the hassle before it becomes a Hassle by
A. Requiring users to setup the Maps App during on device setup of iOS 6
B. After setup issue a pop-up letting users know that Maps needs to be configured for all features to work 100%… People will normally do something when prompted to do it.
C. If a user has an App from the purchased history that use the APIs, Apple could integrate that service from the App on behalf of the user, but also remind the user in-App that they can change it. If there is more than one App in the purchased history, Apple could prompt the users to use one of those or find a new one.
When Apple forces an extra choice on the user, it suddenly becomes a great thing?
I hardly ever comment here and you going to come at me like I ever knocked Android for offering choice and competition.
I have owned every Nexus device and every iPhone to date but the original from 2007. Android 4.0 is the best version of Android to date and I do enjoy the polish there is still somethings that I feel are lacking. Again that is how I feel about Android, I don't expect you, nor the world to feel the same way.
So please step off me with the non-sense because you are no better then a damn troll.
Apple simply decided their corporate priorities were more important than the needs of their users needs -- that, in this case, sticking it to Google was worth sticking it to their own customers.
Top developers are not going to be clamoring to make public transit apps because developers and users both know this is a sub-optimal solution, and it is only a matter of time before Apple brings it back into the Maps app.
Of course, iOS 6 is still in beta. A lot can happen in 3 months. It's entirely possible that Apple simply didn't have their transit mapping solution together enough to demo and therefore removed it from the current beta.
-As a side note, for preparation and practice, I'm now using the Mobile Version of Google Maps in my iPhone's safari browser. It's not as easy to use as the dedicated app, but at least you've got all the Google transportation data (public, bike, pedestrian, etc). right there at your fingertips.
Likewise, if Apple iOS offers a feature natively then Apple is a restricted, "walled garden" and Google Android "has offered that for years."
Apple iOS Maps is a development platform. The capabilities of iOS Maps is limited only by a developers imagination and resources.
Some of the comments are ridiculous.
And so is yours!
No? Then it ain't a platform, it's a service. And one that Apple decided to make worse for its users to spite Google.
EXACTLY. Honestly Apple Maps, it's not really apps. And it's not really Apple's.
Huh, what's in a name?
"Huge oversight on Apples part. I have no interest in having to go out...(of the app to download more apps)"
EXACTLY. Honestly Apple Maps, it's not really maps. And it's not really Apple's.
Huh, what's in a name?
It's like buying a car with no wheels. Or engine. Or car doors.
Apple Maps is a LEMON!
The main problem for Apple is that the new Maps app can't simply good enough, it has to be considerably better then the current app; otherwise, consumers will be very upset, and we will have to endure countless articles about "Mapgate 2012".
Now if an English speaker were to go to Japan, there would be NO OPTION, at all in English. Because the same reason TomTom doesn't have maps of Japan... the Japanese mapmakers blocked them. And then they provided their own solutions only in Japanese.
google was the only company with an option. And there are tons of other countries where this is ALSO the case.
Apple! THE WORLD DOES NOT STOP AT THE US BORDER
Holy crap Apple has lost touch with it's user base. It all really started with the stupidity of the misstep with Antennagate and showed that Apple has lost touch. It's almost like they've become the Big Government of the phone industry. Too big to actually give the people what they want so they just assume that what they give us is what we need.
This is the most un-Apple like thing I've seen the company do since Steve Jobs. It's funny that in the All Things D conference video from 2010 that Mossberg asks Jobs about replacing Google Maps as a way to compete with Android and Steve dismisses the idea and goes on to say that Apple is about focusing on making better products and not necessarily what their competition is doing (which Steve then jokes is why they lost the battle with Microsoft). It's really hard to think that Apple has done this move to compete with Android when it clearly inconveniences the user and weakens the user experience on iOS. If there's one thing that keeps people buying Apple's mobile products it is the iOS user experience.
I would LOVE to see the maps app integrate transit data from multiple 3rd party apps simultaneously and present that information to me in a route list. The route would take into consideration the data from each 3rd party app, mesh it together, and optimize the route. If I have an app that gives detailed info on the subway or busses, such as current to-the-minute arrival times, I want Apple to mesh that information with the walking directions as well as say the cable cars (if I'm in SF) and optimize the route for me automagically, just like they do with the traffic information and turn-by-turn directions. That truly would be a better, more precise product than what Apple is currently offering us through the Google Maps app. This is the kind of enhancement I would expect from Apple, not a solution that makes it hard for the end users just so Apple/devs can sell more apps and ding Google.
Is Tim Cook really preserving Apple's core principles??? ....I wonder after seeing Maps in iOS6