As expected, Apple just announced its own in-house mapping platform at WWDC. Apple is doing all of the cartography itself, instead of Using Google Maps, or pulling from an open source format like OpenStreetMap.
One big addition is turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6, which has been a big feature that Apple fans have been begging for for years. It will also be fully integrated with Yelp, and offer traffic updates, suggesting new routes if traffic is bad where you’re heading. Another cool thing to do is that if you’ve got to take two turns back to back, it will show you both of the signs, so you know what to do.
It’ll also have a 3D feature called Flyover — a “3D photographic model of cities all over the world.” It’s probably based on C3 Technologies tech, which is present in Nokia Maps, but Apple’s version looks pretty great.
All of the maps are in vector graphics (very nice!), and there’s an in-line card with reviews and ratings. It’s in the iOS style, but probably based on Placebase, which Apple acquired in 2009.
Apple-run maps have been an inevitability for a while now. Word originally broke a month or so ago that Apple would be moving away from Google Maps as its primary source of information for its apps. That came just a few weeks after the first visible cracks in Apple’s strained marriage with Google Maps — news that the in-app maps for Apple’s new iOS iPhoto app didn’t pull its information from Google Maps, but OpenStreetMap.
Apple has been buying up mapping companies for years now — Placebase, which overlays information on maps, in 2009, Google Earth-like Poly9 in 2010, and C3 Technologies’ 3D mapping in 2011 — and slowly building out its ability to provide a similar feature set once it launches.
Probably in response to Apple’s announcement, Google announced a ton of new mapping features last week, including offline maps, which Apple users might not see now.
The biggest missing feature from the new Apple maps will probably be Google’s StreetView. That’s a killer. The other thing is that transit directions will be MIA until devs build apps for them. Apple is offering integration for those apps, but it sounds like a cop out. No directions for metro systems, biking, walking, and hiking is a big miss. It’s unclear exactly what else is missing from a Googleless future of Maps, but if Apple is taking this live, it probably thinks it can make a close enough approximation to make the experience similar — or at least it had better.
Catch up on all of Apple’s WWDC announcements here