With iOS 6, Apple took a bold step to build its own mapping service, replacing Google Maps. The launch was marred with widespread criticism from the media and consumers due to the lacklustre points-of-interest (POI) data, and the removal of public transit directions.
Apple intends on fixing these issues in iOS 8 with a revamped Maps app that will include improved data, public transit directions and augmented reality.
The widespread criticism after the launch of Apple Maps forced Tim Cook to pubilcly apologise for falling short of the high-standards Apple customers expect. Former iOS chief Scott Forstall was reportedly pushed out because he refused to sign on the Maps apology.
While Apple made some cosmetic changes to the Maps app in iOS 7, the changes in iOS 8 will be much more substantial.
Apple acquired a number of mapping related companies over the past few years, and it will use these acquisitions to improve its mapping database with new points of interest and better labelling of airports, parks, train stations, bus stops, highways, and freeways to make it easier to find. The cartography design will also include slight tweaks to make the maps cleaner and streets more visible.
When Apple introduced Maps, it said that transit directions weren’t a part of the app because third-party developers would do a better job at providing regional transit directions. Apple seems to have gone back on this strategy, as the Maps app in iOS 8 will include Transit directions powered by acquisitions HopStop and Embark.
Transit directions allow a person to use an iPhone to travel from one destination to another via public transportation. iOS 8 Maps will be able to tap into train, subway, and bus data and provide enhanced directions to major airports.
When a user chooses to receive transit directions in the iOS 8 Maps app, a translucent panel slides up from the bottom of the Maps app with a list of different routes, according to the sources briefed on the application. Each route uses icons to notate the method of transportation (for example, a bus or train). The left side of the route choice panels share the departure and arrival times, and the right side notes the travel time. The transit view is said to split the screen between the routes list and the map so that users can also visually see the provided routes.
For regular users of public transport, the iOS 8 Maps app will have an option to set transit as the default transport mode over walking or driving. Transit will initially be available in major cities like San Fransisco, New York, Los Angeles, and will expand to other regions and other countries around the public launch of iOS 8.
Augmented Reality has been a buzz word ever since smartphones gained GPS, Camera and motion sensors like the gyroscope and compass. The feature lets users see nearby restaurents, monuments etc., overlaid on the camera view.
After applying for several augmented reality patents, Apple will reportedly include the functionality in iOS 8. The company will also add indoor mapping, and improve Maps integration with cars.
Apart from Maps, iOS 8 is also said to include an all new app called Healthbook that’ll help users keep track of their fitness information.