This has been Apple’s Achilles heel – a pre-installed feature on iPhones some users refuse to use. A major update could change that.
Apple has relaunched one of its biggest iPhone features, which should – ultimately – make it more competitive with arch nemesis Google.
Starting today, Australia is being granted access to the highly revamped Apple Maps app. The company describes it as “the best way to navigate the world.”
Several new features – including more details, public transportation information and traffic jam dates, and a Street View counterpart – mean Apple The app is now the equivalent of Google Maps Goliath.
Apple claims to be ahead of its rivals, including Flyover, which allows users to become like Superman and swoon over multiple Australian cities and locations created by stitching together thousands of photos.
Apple Maps is now the equivalent of Google Maps
Despite its leading position in phones in Australia, which data analysts Statista have placed at 56 percent, Apple’s Maps app has struggled to gain as many users as rival Google Maps.
While it’s difficult to pin down usage data for various apps, the analytics firm’s results based on research comscore suggests that in the US – where Apple has the same handset share as Australia – iPhone users were twice as likely to have Google Maps over Apple’s Maps. Despite this, Apple Maps is already being installed on the new handset.
The reason for that lackluster response to previous iterations of Maps may have been a poor user experience compared to Google.
But the firm says that everything is about to change in the new version.
“Apple Maps is the best way to explore and navigate the world, while protecting your privacy,” said Eddie Q, Apple’s head of Australian services.
“Maps is built from the ground up, with better navigation, richer details, more accurate information for locations, and remarkable features that only Apple can deliver.”
Instead of relying on existing maps, Apple has mapped the whole of Australia for the new app from the start.
Apple’s answer to Street View
For its look around feature – it also takes pictures of almost every street in Australia – with cameras attached to cars or backpacks.
It is similar to Google’s Street View. Apple Maps automatically shows the entire picture as a single pane that users can expand across the page. Like Street View, Look Around can be viewed in full 360 degrees.
All favorite locations are – major CBDs, suburbs and regional cities. But Apple has gone even further with the outback town of Cooper Pedy, which is available for viewing around the look as well as along the entire Nullabar Highway.
The flyover is touted as a unique feature that provides “photo realistic immersive 3D views of select metro centres”.
“Users can move their device through space to experience a city from above, or explore in high resolution as they zoom, pan, tilt and move around the city and its landmarks.”
Like Google, Apple now provides real-time traffic congestion data on its maps as well as public transportation information.
The audio travel directions feature, which guides people to destinations, has also been updated with “more natural sounding directions”.
So, for example, instead of Siri asking drivers to “turn left in 200 meters,” the automated voice may now say: “At the next traffic light, turn left.”
Apple has built a lot of privacy features on the remodeled app.
“Privacy is central to the Maps experience,” the company has said. No sign in is required to use the app and Apple employs a process it calls “fuzzing” to obscure the user from mapping data received from their device.
Apple will be hoping that the features on the app will be enough to persuade those who happily use Apple Maps as their mapping tool to also use Apple Maps as their phone.