When Apple announced it was to transition from Google Maps to its own custom mapping tool back in 2012, consumers were excited.
Not only did it mean that Google would have a new rival, but it would allow Apple to introduce new features exclusive to the iOS ecosystem and create a more streamlined and integrated product.
What followed, however, fell short, and Apple was forced to apologize publicly for the rollout of its less-than-stellar map app. “We are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” Tim Cook wrote on the Apple website at the time, in one of the most humiliating moments for the Cupertino company.
The truth is that Apple Maps has taken some wrong turns over the years, and rivals have developed more fully-formed solutions that work around the world. However, that’s not to say Apple hasn’t tried or hasn’t made improvements. In 2019, the company revealed it had spent “billions of dollars” on Maps, and the results are there. Whilst Google Maps and Waze have larger user bases than Apple Maps, the software has come on leaps and bounds and is now a genuine competitor to the two. Add in the fact that Apple Maps is the default mapping app on iOS, and the service now reaches millions of users every single day, offering directions and other location information.
Waze, which was acquired by Google back in 2013 but has remained a separate entity, offers a different approach to mainstream mapping apps like Google Maps and Bing Maps, describing itself as a community-driven GPS navigation app. Unlike other mapping apps, it depends on user-submitted travel times and data on things such as accidents, speed checks, hazards, and more to offer information about a route in real-time. Naturally, the more people who use it, the more accurate it’ll become. Back in 2019, it was revealed that more than 130 million Americans use Waze as their default mapping app, and it has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to smart car integrations and a bunch of new features.
Keen to catch up to rivals like Waze, Apple is planning to introduce some of the app’s most popular features into its upcoming iOS 14.5 release. Now, when users type in a location into Apple Maps and set a route, Siri will now allow users to now report accidents or hazards that are seen along the way, creating a crowdsourced mapping experience.
When users swipe up on the Apple Maps interface, they will be able to press a new Report button to flag an accident, hazard, or speed check, and tapping the button will automatically flag a user’s location with no confirmation window, offering speed and convenience, though users might be cautious of using it if they’re worried about privacy. It will also be possible to flag accidents to Siri using your voice – just say “Hey Siri, there’s an accident” and Siri will send in a report to Apple Maps.
The idea is that, if enough users report the same accident, it’ll then appear on Apple Maps through its crowdsourcing tool. It’s likely that this new model will only be available in the United States on the launch, though Apple could introduce the feature in other key markets as the software develops further. As first reported on MacRumors, the new features also integrate with Apple CarPlay.
Are you excited about the new Apple Maps? Let us know and check back soon for more.