In the tech world, Apple Maps has largely been somewhat a joke. Former CEO Steve Jobs’s dream of creating a 3D map seemed commendable at first, but it got old real fast, and the imperfections rapidly unraveled.
It’s so abysmal, in fact, that it’s been used as a punchline in one of Silicon Valley‘s episodes. In that hilarious moment, the fictional CEO of a big-name company, Gavin Belson, is listening to highly negative responses for its new compression app, trying to compare it with some of the most notorious failures in the tech world to get a sense of how bad it is.
“How bad is this, be honest? Is this Windows Vista bad? It’s not iPhone 4 bad, is it? F***. Don’t tell me this is Zune bad,” he says.
“I’m sorry Gavin. It’s Apple Maps bad,” says one of his colleagues, dejectedly.
It even got to a point where Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook apologized for how bad Maps was and asked everyone to download Google Maps instead, presumably to avoid any further humiliation.
Apple Maps Overhaul
Apple is finally ready to move on. New reports now say the company is preparing to introduce a completely overhauled Maps app in the United States over the next year, featuring new data it acquired by itself.
The new Maps data will roll out to people enrolled in the iOS 12 Beta first, as TechCrunch notes. Ultimately, it’ll roll out for all users in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Then by fall, it’ll cover all of Northern California, and eventually, it’ll appear on all versions of iOS.
Apple got its data from sensor-equipped vans that’s been driving all over the country for several years and iPhones. The new Maps app will also incorporate traffic data when users open the app, but Apple will do it anonymously, so privacy shouldn’t be an issue.
With the overhaul, Apple is relying on its proprietary maps data instead of going to third-party maps services, such as Google or TomTom. This is a massive change because third parties have largely made up Maps since its launch in 2012.
Apple Maps Visual Changes
The update also includes some much-needed aesthetic changes, including more greener patches for parks and woods, more detailed waterways, and more meticulously plotted street paths — all to make it easier for users to read Maps. It’s not a complete redesign, however, as TechCrunch notes. Even still, it’ll look radically different once it gets more detailed data.
It’s not entirely certain if Apple intends to compete with Google Maps since doing so would obviously be a tall order. If it’s true that years and years have been spent trying to make Maps better, then it might just be attempting to overthrow Google’s reign in the maps department. Hopefully, it doesn’t turn into another Silicon Valley joke after all this.