Last week, Apple announced that its rebuilt its Maps application and has rolled it out in general availability across the US. It will soon be coming to Europe. This new version of Apple Maps has a range of improved features and content:
- Look Around: 360-degree street-level photography, like Google Street View
- Collections: personalized places lists that can be shared
- Favorite locations: which allow for “one-tap” navigation
- Real-time transit schedules
- Sharable arrival time estimates
- More life-like Siri voice guided directions that are more intuitive
- Flight status information
- Indoor maps of airports and malls
- Flyover: 3D imagery for “more than 350 cities”
This is a result of a global effort made by Apple, which is worth “billions,” according to Apple’s 2019 Congressional testimony. The user experience of this product has been improved, although all the listed improvements (as seen above) are potentially perceived as “me too” features when you compare them to Google Maps.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in 2015 that Apple Maps was used 3.5x more than “the next leading mapping app” (read: Google Maps) on the iPhone. But despite this, consumer survey data (Fluent, Brandify) appear to contradict that claim — or perhaps it was once true but no longer is.
Apple wanted their map product to be different from Google Maps, so they had to have a “breakout feature” that gives users either great convenience and utility or good surprises. For a subset of users, privacy could e a winning argument, not including Google’s recent introduction of Incognito Mode for Google Maps.
According to Apple’s press release, it “has built privacy into the core of Maps. With Maps, no sign-in is required and it is not connected to an Apple ID in any way. . . Any data collected by Maps while using the app, like search terms, navigation routing and traffic information, is associated with random identifiers that continually reset to ensure the best possible experience and to improve Maps.”