Apple's Maps is getting an update in the company's upcoming iOS 9.
The mapping app, which tallies 5 billion user requests per week, has added a new feature the company is calling Transit. The feature provides key information to users on buses, trains, subways and ferries, including where they can enter and exit a station, and how to quickly get from one place to the next. Transit will be supported in a handful of cities initially, including New York, Baltimore and San Francisco. It will also be supported in 300 cities across China.
The move is part of a broader push for Apple to expand the usability of its mapping application for those who don't always drive from one point to another. Indeed, Apple said during its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday that Transit recognizes that people aren't always driving, but need some helping from a mapping application.
In September 2012, Apple released its own homegrown mapping program along with its iOS 6 operating system. It previously had preloaded Google Maps on its devices, but tensions between the companies led Apple to create its own software. The trouble was -- it didn't really work.
iOS users immediately noticed problems with everything from navigation to simply searching for an address. Complaints included a lack of details, distorted images and erroneous directions. Grand Cayman, for instance, was a sandy island devoid of roads, while New York City's Manhattan Bridge resembled a roller coaster, and things elsewhere were.
The fiasco causedand led to the departure of iOS chief Scott Forstall, one of former CEO Steve Jobs' top lieutenants. Cook at the time said Apple "fell short on this commitment," and he recommended alternative mapping programs until the company could fix the issues with Apple Maps.
Apple has come a long way with Maps, but reviewers still say Google Maps is better.
More than 5,000 app makers are in San Francisco this week for Apple's Worldwide Developers Conferencee, including Monday's two-hour keynote speech and more than 100 technical sessions on the software powering Apple's various devices.
While Apple is probably best-known for its hardware -- slickly designed products such as the iPhone and iPad -- just as important are the experiences on those devices. It's critical that Apple make a strong impression at WWDC with the next version of its operating systems. The company's ability to control every aspect of its products -- something that began when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976 -- has been a key ingredient for creating the tech juggernaut.
It's vital for Apple to get developers excited about its newest software and devices because its continued success relies on the creation of new apps for its iPhone and iPad. Likewise for the Apple Watch -- people aren't shelling out $349 to $17,000 just for a watch. Rather, they want a device that does things like call an Uber car from your wrist, unlock your hotel room by holding the smartwatch near the door or pay for groceries at Whole Foods.