Apple Maps is What We Thought it Was

There wasn’t much surprising about the Apple Navigation app:

Just last week Google unveiled new features including offline maps for Android and 3D mapping, at an event dedicated to mapping, which some people took as a clear sign that the company was feeling the weight of the impeding move by Apple to its own technology. From what we can tell, Apple’s 3D features look a little better than what Google showed off last week but we’ll have to see them both in action to be sure.

On one of the slides from the WWDC I saw a reference to “Map Kit”. I guess we’ll learn much more this week. Navigation appears to be TomTom or Navteq but it is all rumors right now.

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Update It looks like yes, TomTom is providing navigation data. We now have Apple/TomTom, Microsoft/NAVTEQ, Google and eventually OSM as the four main navigation ecosystems.

Will Apple Maps Impact Web Mapping?

Forbes talks about how Apple dumping Google Maps might hit Google’s revenue, but most of us don’t really worry about how much billions Apple and Google make. Maybe Google is a little unsure, but what about us?

First off, I suspect this mapping API from Apple will be free to developers on iOS devices. So while that might be a large segment of the mobile market, most of us don’t develop exclusively on iOS. Thus in the short term, it becomes one more API we must learn if we are deploying to Apple devices. Maybe Apple will extended it to OS X (possibly eventually the web), but for now I suspect this this will iOS only as Apple is really only concerned if you use their hardware. So you might decide to migrate your Google or Mapbox tiles to Apple on iOS, but you’ll still need to use Google or Mapbox on other platforms.

Second, it might not be useful for GIS applications. Putting any pushpin on a map is easy, but overlaying lines and polygons on top of what might be a beautiful map but noisy, means that users might not be able to see what you are showing them. I’ve always like whitelabel maps that basically give you just enough to navigate, but don’t show you features that aren’t relevant to your product. Apple may get there one day, but I’m going to guess their map they show this week will be beautiful and difficult for us to work with.

Third, if you are already using Google or Mapbox, do you really need to switch? No if things are working well for you. Change for the sake of change is never good. There is no shortage of map tiling options for developers on mobile devices and the Apple one might not be good for us. I guess we’ll know soon.

Chin Music

A little chin music now and then keeps us all honest

It Is On!

So says the Wall Street Journal.

Later this year, Apple is planning to oust Google Maps as the preloaded, default maps app from the iPhone and iPad and release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology, according to current and former Apple employees. Apple could preview the new software, which will be part of its next mobile-operating system, as soon as next week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco, one person familiar with the plans says. Apple plans to encourage app developers to embed its maps inside their applications like social-networking and search services.

Spatial isn’t special, but maps are critical to mobile devices.

High Five

How about a little geo-high-five for ourselves for not getting that degree in English Literature?

The Incumbent Fights off the Disrupter – Or Google Maps Throws an Event before Apple’s WWDC

So there could be some very interesting mobile mapping news the beginning of this month. First off Apple is expected to release information about iOS 6 which at this point is assume to have their branded version of the Maps.app and possibly 3D navigation (I have no idea how that is supposed to work). But Google isn’t going to let them have all that glory themselves:

At this invitation-only press gathering, Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps and Google Earth, will give you a behind-the-scenes look at Google Maps and share our vision. We’ll also demo some of the newest technology and provide a sneak peek at upcoming features that will help people get where they want to go – both physically and virtually. We hope to see you there.

Interesting that they still mention Google Earth as everything I’ve seen from them is abandonment of that platform. I guess it still has a purpose. So as I pointed out earlier this week, I consider Google the web mapping incumbent and Apple the disrupter. Clearly as consumers, we’ll be having great choices for our mapping apps. Makes you wonder though if there is room for third parties on these mobile platforms. Time will tell if Waze (my current navigation choice) will continue to grow.

Celebration

Could be a fun time this summer using mobile mapping apps looking for a place to party