Funny. Just yesterday I nudged us Apple Maps when I talked about the redesign of Google Maps, stating that the Mountain View giant's platform didn't even have to strive to be the best map service in the world. Well, look at the gigantic news that arrives today: Apple confirmed that it is working on a complete reconstruction of its platform, in a global work that has already been carried out for four years and will have its first fruits seen in the launch of iOS 12.
The details of the contract are told in this report by TechCrunch with a little girl from Eddy Cue, senior vice president of software and services at Apple, the man who is leading the renewal of Apple Maps.
The case is that Apple, which is not silly or anything, is not satisfied with the current state of its maps as well as most of its users. And this is not today: shortly after the (disastrous) launch of the platform, back in 2012 (in an initiative half hastily shutting down the last vital dependency that iOS had on Google), Ma realized that she could only go until a certain point using third-party planet mapping data. This is evident: depending on other satellite / tracking companies, Apple is on a short rope, unable to offer quick fixes or add features that it deems necessary as quickly as it needs.
Now everything is going to change and, soon, the company will throw away all this third-party data to feed the Maps only with its information, captured by primarily two types of devices. The first are the company's gigantic vans that have been traveling the United States and the world and that now have their real function revealed. The vehicles capture 3D and photographic information of roads, buildings, vegetation, commercial establishments and everything else that passes around them, generating a three-dimensional map of the environment that can be translated into much more complete information when the user opens the application.
The other type of device that will be used to complement the information captured by the vans is one that is in the hands of millions of users worldwide: the iPhone. Apple, of course, is concerned to say beforehand that user privacy will remain its priority and that the data captured for the better the map service falls into its differential privacy logic, that is, all anonymized information before it is sent to Apple. and cannot be traced back to the user.
In addition, all the proactive features of Maps will continue, as well as Siri, being carried out exclusively locally, on your iPhone's processor nothing about you goes to Ma's servers.
But what will all this reconstruction improve in practice? Well, the first visible change will be a much more refined visual richness in the company's new maps. Soon, they will be much more colorful, with marking of vegetation fields, rivers, sidewalks, courts, swimming pools and parks; streets will have their real width scaled and the system will know the main routes to indicate their names. Apple will be able to correct changes to roads and establishments almost instantly, with a team of editors who constantly monitor what's new in each city covered by the service.
In addition, using proprietary maps will allow Apple to add even greater detail to its platform. An example: the company starts to indicate all the navigation steps to a certain building or establishment, from the point where you are to your entrance, so if your destination has more than one parking entrance, for example, Maps will know exactly where each one is and indicate the most convenient.
Another example: for maximum reliability in the real world, Apple has captured millions of copies of signposts from various cities around the world, to display exactly what the user sees on a road (for example, a maximum speed sign) on the smartphone screen . The company also licensed hundreds of sources to display metro information exactly as it is displayed in each city for example, in New York you can see metro indications in Helvetica; in London, they will be in Johnston.
Although profound, the changes in Maps will occur almost imperceptibly and progressively for the user. In the next beta version of iOS 12, San Francisco and its surrounding cities (the so-called Bay Area) will already receive the new data from Apple; the whole of northern California will be covered over the autumn of the northern hemisphere and, from there, the rest of the US and the world over the next year. The old data will live in harmony with the new data, in the same application, until the transition is complete.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether this renewal extends to areas traditionally despised by Apple in its Maps service (that is, basically the whole world excluding the US). If Ma really wants to compete on equal terms with Google, having to offer these news and its benefits to the whole world (look at Brazil here, Apple!), And more quickly than it does today. Eddy Cue stated that the team behind the global endeavor, so we hope the changes will be too. We'll see!