Eddie Cue gave an interview to Matthew Panzarino on TechCrunch where he detailed Apple’s project to rebuild Apple Maps using their data, instead of relying on partners, as they’ve done. Also, it’s launching with the next beta of iOS 12, so that was surprising.
Since I just started driving a new car with CarPlay, I’ve been using Apple Maps for driving directions almost daily. And it’s been fine. In fact, in the places I’ve lived (Portland, San Francisco, Seattle), it’s pretty much always been fine. For other people who don’t live in major cities on the West Coast, it seems like it’s been less fine, but has improved a lot for everyone since it launched in 20121.
The thing I don’t think it’s ever been and doesn’t have any indication of becoming with the previous strategy was remotely competitive with the quality of Google Maps.
When the decision was made to move away from Google, and create their service, my feeling is that it was on a less-than-ideal timeline and they needed to come up with a solution that would get it out the door. Partnering with a bunch of companies to launch who have all the data you need makes a lot of sense when you have no experience or infrastructure to do this, and it’s beginning to look a little embarrassing that the iPhone can’t do turn by turn directions.
That strategy was the only way Maps could’ve happened in 2012, and after a rough launch, they’ve managed to incrementally get up to the level of “good enough” over the last six years. For it to be great though the incremental improvements and relying on third parties weren’t going to get them where they wanted to be. I don’t know if the new way will fix all of Maps problems at once, but something had to change, and this seems like the way it had to go.
- If they’ve been working on this project since 2014 like the article says, that means Apple Maps has been in the process of being rebuilt for two-thirds of the time it’s existed. ↩