Looking at the New Apple Maps: Is it Finally Good Enough for Australia?

Whether you are in the app creation and development field or you are just a consumer with an iPhone who wanted a decent map app, you probably know how much of a fiasco the 2012 version of Apple Maps was. We would like to give you a recap of what was wrong with the 2012 version, what may or may not be right with the new version and what it means to you as a mobile app developer.

Apple Maps Circa 2012

On 9 December 2012, the police in Victoria issued a warning to consumers telling Apple Phone users not to use Apple Maps. Why did they issue this warning? Because they had to rescue several Apple Maps users who were stranded in the wilderness, some for longer than 24 hours without enough food or water.

Six motorists who got directions to Mildura, an inland city, from Apple Maps ended up in Murray Sunset National Park, more than 70 km away from their original destination. The police called this “life-threatening” because the park has no water supply and temperatures can reach highs of 46 degrees.

The resulting kerfuffle was so bad that Apple fired “Software Chief” Scott Forstall and Richard Williamson, who were the persons in charge of the maps for Apple Maps. Ultimately, a lot of users went back to Google Maps or alternative apps.

Apple Maps: the New, Bright, Shiny iOS 9 Version

With Apple’s yearly system overhaul, iOS 9, coming in time for Christmas shopping, they are advertising Apple Maps in Australia as “a Whole New Turn.” Apple Maps will be included in iOS 9 and Apple wants you to stay within their system as much as possible. Apple promises “interactive 3D views,” the “stunning flyover feature” and “turn by turn spoken directions.”

Apple also promises to help users better access public transport and to “help you explore your surroundings.” Let’s look a bit further into what they promise.

Transit

Information from trains, buses, ferries and trams is customised by city and the signs on the screen are made to look “exactly like the signs on the street.” It also promises schedules and step by step directions with Siri as a backup plan.

Step by Step Directions

Apple Maps promises what is a standard navigation app, with directions spoken turn by turn and a “3D perspective of the road ahead.” Like any good navigation app, Apple Maps re-routes for you if you miss a turn.

Real Time Traffic Info

Apple Maps promises real time traffic information including how long it is going to take to get from point A to point B. It promises to let you know why traffic is stalled and how long it is projected to be stalled. It also promises to offer alternate routes to get you around traffic jams.

Flyover

Flyover is offered in “select major metro areas.” We assume this means the Capital Cities, but we don’t know yet. It allows you to pan, tilt and zoom from an overhead view of the city.

Siri

Apple Maps also promises that Siri has your back. Wherever you need to go, just ask Siri and Siri will take you there.

What it Means to You

If you are a mobile app developer who is looking for ideas, take a look at Apple Maps and see if you can create an app that helps user experience when used with Apple Maps. Can you do something Apple Maps does, but better? Can you provide extended service within a small niche, such as “Best Asian Restaurants” or “Easy Golf Courses that Don’t Strain the Pocketbook?”

Apple’s handling of the 2012 fiasco is an education in itself. They distanced themselves from the people responsible for the failure and went about the business of improving their app. The new version is being advertised as “a whole new turn” but without mentioning 2012.

What About Your App?

We hope you were inspired by this post. Maybe you came up with a new idea. If you would like to turn that idea into reality, contact SmarterApps today.

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