Car Games and Apps

Apple Maps getting a thorough redesign with more detailed information

Apple's vans are driving around cities worldwide to provide higher-quality mapping data.

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The current version of Apple Maps.

Apple

Apple Maps was plagued with problems and widely criticized when it was first introduced in 2012. While the navigation and mapping app has been significantly improved since that time, Apple isn't resting on its laurels. TechCrunch reports that Apple is currently working on a "ground up" redesign of Maps that should offer better, more detailed maps and improved navigation details.

For starters, TechCrunch reports that Apple decided to establish its own in-house mapping data; Maps had previously used data from TomTom and Open Street Maps. The tech company first established the so-called "base maps" that form the building blocks of a navigation app, and then will supplement that data with high-resolution satellite data.

"We have been working on trying to create what we hope is going to be the best map app in the world, taking it to the next step. That is building all of our own map data from the ground up," Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue told TechCrunch.

To collect all that data, Apple has also been using mapping vans since 2015 that collect high-quality 3D data on streets, as well as panoramic photography -- like Google's StreetView. Apple's website details where the vans are currently collecting data around the world. Apple told TechCrunch that any photos are carefully edited for privacy, with details like faces and car license plates blurred out of the imagery.

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Other data collection techniques will reportedly help improve live road and traffic information, as well as details on pedestrian routes. The new Maps app will apparently use a vector system -- recording a user's direction and speed -- and will not store the entire route that someone takes. The idea: only collect anonymous data on certain sections of a journey, rather than the entire trip.

"We collect data -- when we do it -- in an anonymous fashion, in subsections of the whole, so we couldn't even say that there is a person that went from point A to point B," Cue told TechCrunch.

TechCrunch also reports that Apple is using a big collection of human editors to double-check and improve the new mapping data. For instance, they can manually move the location of an address on the map to match up to a building's real entrance or driveway. The goal is to improve "the last 50 feet" of your navigation journey."

"We're going to make sure that we're taking you to exactly the right place, not a place that might be really close by," Cue told TechCrunch.

All this new data will be presented in a much prettier layout. Apple Maps has never been praised for its graphical richness, so the new version will reportedly have more detailed imagery of things like vegetation, waterways, swimming pools and buildings. The typeface and signage for transit directions will even more closely match the real-life signs; for instance, a Helvetica typeface and color-coded logos for New York City subway information.

TechCrunch says that the new version of Apple Maps will roll out in early July as part of the iOS 12 Beta, but that initially the updated information will only cover the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of Northern California. Until the new mapping experience rolls out more widely, iPhone users who dislike Maps will finally have some other options in the car, as with iOS 12, Apple CarPlay will finally support third-party navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze.