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12:48 PM

Apple Maps Slowly Improving

Apple updates its maligned Maps app for the iPhone, includes 3-D flyovers for a handful of new cities.

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Apple is working hard to improve its Apple Maps application, which arrived with iOS 6 on the iPhone and iPad last fall. The application has recently received some on-the-sly improvements that help accuracy, functionality and the fun factor.

According to The Loop's Jim Dalrymple, Apple Maps' 3-D flyover feature has seen a significant expansion in recent months. Sixteen cities have access to the feature now, which lets map users soar over buildings, down alleys and through cityscapes. Some of the new markets include Baltimore, Cleveland, Green Bay, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Portland, Buffalo and the Hoover Dam.

Apple also expanded the scale of the 3-D flyover feature in more than a dozen existing cities, including Boston, Houston, London (U.K.), Toronto and many others.

[ For most users, there's no contest. Read 5 Ways Google Maps Beats Apple Maps. ]

Beyond expanding this one feature, Apple has updated the accuracy of the maps. When the app was first released, users in countries outside the U.S. reported gross inaccuracies. The recent updates have resolved some of those issues, particularly in China and Japan.

Some Australian towns continue to suggest that mobile device owners use alternate mapping services. Late last year, some motorists were stranded in remote desert regions after following inaccurate Apple Maps to the middle of nowhere.

Apple Maps has been perhaps the biggest black eye for iOS 6. Apple removed Google Maps, which was baked into iOS since the iPhone's debut in 2007, in favor of its own maps. Apple decided to drop Google Maps because Google wouldn't provide free, step-by-step, voice-guided navigation services to the iPhone. It was a costly mistake.

Apple's product was immediately derided as inferior thanks to mislabeled roads, omitted points of interest and even missing towns. The company was forced to apologize and eventually began to promote mapping products and services made by third-party developers.

Apple eventually relented and allowed Google Maps back on the iPhone. Google Maps was an instant hit with iPhone users and downloaded more than one million times shortly after its release.

The recent updates to Apple Maps are welcome, but it would be nice to hear directly from Apple on the steps it is taking to further improve what has become a table-stakes service for modern smartphones.

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/25/2013 | 2:00:08 PM
re: Apple Maps Slowly Improving
Am I the only one that does not care regardless of how many changes Apple makes to their map application I will never use it. Due the their past performance of unreliability, they have killed any loyalty to the application at all. Good luck Apple!

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor

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