iOS 9 will finally bring transit directions to Maps app

iOS 8 Maps mockup

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.

Even though Apple has been improving the point of interest data overtime, one of the major features missing currently in Apple’s Maps app is public transit directions. 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 was expected to add the public transit directions to the Maps app in iOS 8, but it did not make it to the feature list. Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac reports that according to his sources Apple will definitely be adding support for public transit direction to the Maps app in iOS 9.

Apple now hopes to launch its Transit service with iOS 9, according to sources. Apple currently plans to debut bus, subway, and train route navigation as the central upgrade to the Maps app in iOS 9 at WWDC [..]

[..] Sources said last year that the transit functionality for Maps includes larger icons for users to more quickly spot airports, subway stations, and train stations within the Maps app. In addition to the main functionality, there is also a trip planning feature for transit, and a new Transit view alongside the existing Standard, Hybrid, and Satellite/Flyover views.

The report notes that Apple decided to remove the public transit functionality from the Maps app from iOS 8 very late into development because of “personnel issues, data inconsistencies, and coverage for only a small subset of Apple’s major markets”.

Apple is also working on indoor maps, which will help users navigate major buildings, offices, and landmarks. However, the feature may not be released this year. Apple is apparently using autonomous robots as big as iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaners, and fitted with iBeacon sensors, to collect data for its indoor mapping project.

Apple is widely expected to unveil iOS 9 at next month’s developer conference. According to rumors, Apple plans to focus on optimizations and refinements with iOS 9. It will also include a new ‘Home app’ that can be used to manage HomeKit accessories. Siri will also reportedly be getting a makeover for iOS 9, to better match it with the Siri experience on the Apple Watch. Apple may also use the ‘San Francisco’ Apple Watch font in iOS 9.

What do you think about the public transit feature in the Maps app? I am also hoping that Apple will also add Google Street-view like feature in iOS 9, especially after mystery camera-fitted Apple vans have been spotted in the U.S.