As rumoured, Apple just announced at WWDC that it’s launching its own in-house mapping platform. Apple is doing all of the cartography itself instead of Using Google Maps or pulling from an open source format such as OpenStreetMap.
One big addition is turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6, which has been a big feature that Apple fans have been wanting for years. It’ll be narrated by Siri, of course. It will also be fully integrated with Yelp and offer traffic updates, suggesting new routes if traffic is bad where you’re heading. If you’ve got to make two turns back to back, it will show you both of the signs so you know what to do.
It’ll also have a 3D feature called Flyover — a “3D photographic model of cities all over the world”. It’s probably based on C3 Technologies tech, which is also used in Nokia Maps.
All of the maps are in vector graphics (very nice!), and there’s an in-line card with reviews and ratings. It’s in the iOS style, but it’s probably based on Placebase, which Apple acquired in 2009.
Apple-run maps have been widely talked about for a while now. Word originally broke a month or so ago that Apple would be moving away from Google Maps as its primary source of information for its apps. That came just a few weeks after the first visible cracks in Apple’s strained marriage with Google Maps — news that the in-app maps for Apple’s new iOS iPhoto app pulled its information from OpenStreetMap rather than from Google Maps.
You can see the skeleton of a lot of today’s features in what Cupertino’s done in the past. Apple has been buying up mapping companies for years now — Placebase in 2009, Google Earth-like Poly9 in 2010, and C3 Technologies‘ 3D mapping in 2011 — and slowly building out its ability to provide a similar feature set once it launches.
Google announced a bunch of new mapping features last week — probably in anticipation of Apple’s announcement — that includes offline maps, which Apple users might not see now.
The biggest missing feature from the new Apple maps will probably be Google’s Street View. That’s a killer. The other thing is that transit directions will be MIA until devs build apps for them. Apple is offering integration for those apps, but it sounds like a cop-out. No directions for metro systems, biking and walking is a big miss. It’s unclear exactly what else is missing from a Google-less future of Maps, but if Apple is taking this live, it probably thinks it can make a close enough approximation to make the experience similar.
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