Apple is adding more detail and accuracy to its Maps application in an attempt to lure you away from using Google Maps or Waze. The latest iOS and Maps update introduced detailed city experiences to a handful of major cities, along with better 3D views and reportedly better navigation on routes that travel along complex highway interchanges. I’m looking at you, Dallas.
Still, I don’t know how helpful these additions will be at stealing away users from the ubiquitous Google Maps, or the community-driven Waze. The product and design leads for Apple Maps shared some of the more notable changes that they think will make the Apple’s native app competitive, as CNN reported:
So what’s new with this 3D approach on top of an accurate map? Well, it’s really about the details. When navigating somewhere on an iPhone, you’ll notice that you’ll see clearer details about lanes in a road. Lanes are depicted accurately — with road markings — and intersections show crosswalks. It not only helps with accessibility since you’ll know those elements are there, but also extends to knowing what lane you need and how to get there properly. Even neater, you’ll see proper elevation when navigating complex highways that have ground-level roads with overpasses that intersect.
This is good news for those who drive in places where even modern navigation apps can be frustrating due to the complexity of some highways. Houston and Dallas come to mind for me, and even when I’m using my phone’s nav I’m still constantly in fear of missing an exit or lane change when I drive through those cities.
Apple CarPlay will benefit from the new features and 3D views which will finally debut on the in-car interface with this slew of updates, per CNN. A lot of the usability upgrades described by CNN have to do with features that I believe no one ever uses — like FlyOver and Guides — so it’s good that CarPlay is also getting some attention, because that’s where we can actually notice the difference.
Waze is still probably the best app in terms of working around traffic jams and gridlock. And Google Maps is ubiquitous; I’d even guess it’s the default navigation app for most people regardless of platform.
Maps is one of those outlier services where Apple didn’t just bide its time before dropping a popular piece of software, or bought someone out to deliver a full-baked service. It’s the rare case where the company has been playing catch-up.
Apple needs to hurry up and make its navigation software better, because between Google’s shitty track record with user privacy and Apple’s laughably bad nav app it’s hard to make up my mind which service to use. For now, at least Apple’s maps will look better.