Apple Maps is still terrible, but Apple is doing something about it

Apple Maps doesn’t exactly have a sparkling history, and even Apple has admitted that it was embarrassed by its launch back in 2012. Thankfully,  the company is completely rebuilding Apple Maps from the ground up.

Starting in the iOS 12 beta and starting with Cupertino, this reinvention of Apple Maps isn’t just going to be from Apple updating the existing app with new city records and third-party map data – Apple has invested in its own mapping tech to rival Google Maps, according to TechCrunch.

Apple’s fleet of advanced mapping vans, similar to Google Street View cars that gather data and photos at a street level, is finally going to put its data to use this year. The new Apple vans are strapped with LiDAR arrays and eight overlapping cameras along with the standard measuring tools. 

The most interesting map-curation tool at Apple’s disposal, however, is your iPhone. Apple already gathers location data from iPhones, but it will be doing this even more from here on out in an effort to change the map real-time. 

It doesn’t end at the iPhone and street level, either. Apple has deployed satellites to gather even more data and satellite imagery. It will then be cross-referenced with the street level data so that the maps are as accurate as possible.

Mapping out the future 

For the longest time, Google has reigned supreme when it came to Google Maps, but now Apple wants a shot at giving it some serious competition.  Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddie Cue even goes as far as to say he hopes Apple will have “the best map app in the world”.

This means you can expect more consistent Apple Maps updates outside of year-to-year iOS refreshes. Apple says it will use location data to “change the map real-time and often”, which means you should be notified to sudden changes to your route. 

If Apple is able to build an infrastructure that uses this its own van and iPhone data to create a constantly updated map, the third-party Google Maps might not be everyone’s default app choice anymore when they’re looking for directions.

For anyone worried about their data anonymity, Apple says you don’t need to worry – the company promises it will collect data from its users in a privacy-first manner in order to update map data on the fly with new street and heavy traffic changes. It will only collect data in bits and pieces and never know a person traveled from point A to point B. 

The new Apple Maps will launch in San Francisco and the Bay Area in a future iOS 12 beta update and should cover Northern California around the time we expect an iPhone XI and iPhone 9.  

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.