Report: Next iOS release to spruce up Maps


— 6:00 AM on March 12, 2014

iOS 7.1 introduced some much-needed user-interface polish earlier this week, but Apple's Maps app continues to feel... well, a little flimsy. Public transit directions are only available through third-party apps, there's no street view mode, and the name of a large park in my city is misspelled (despite multiple bug reports). I, and most iOS users I know, just use Google Maps, instead.

Apple is hard at work on improvements to its own Maps app, though—and we may be treated to a more meaningful update soon. According to 9to5mac, the iOS 8 version of the Maps app will feature "under-the-hood changes" stemming from both in-house work and recent acquisitions. Here's the skinny, according to "sources briefed on the plans:"

Thanks to extensive engineering work and acquisitions of several companies such BroadMap, Embark, and HopStop, Apple’s database for iOS Maps will be upgraded with enhanced data so it is more reliable, according to sources. The new application will also be injected with new points of interests and new labels to make places such as airports, parks, train stations, bus stops, highways, and freeways easier to find, the sources added. Sources also say that the mapping application’s cartography design has been tweaked to be slightly cleaner and to make streets more visible.

On top of that, 9to5mac says the iOS 8 Maps app will finally feature public transit directions. Train, subway, and bus directions will all be supported, and routes will be depicted in a new mapping mode. (That mode will supplement the existing standard, hybrid, and satellite views.)

None of this is official, of course, and iOS 8 is still months away. If Apple keeps to its usual release cadence, I expect we'll see the software update released alongside new iPhones in September. Only one thing is certain right now: Apple has its work cut out if it wants to catch up to Google.

   
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