The release of iOS 6 Maps caused hoopla for Apple and since then, the company has been trying to improve its maps app as quickly as possible. Today, TechCrunch reports that Apple may be interested in acquiring Waze, the popular social turn-by-turn navigation company. The application is available on iOS for free and is marketed by the company as a “fun, community-based traffic & navigation app.” It claims that more than 30 million people are using the service.
Because Waze maps are built on the location of moving cars, it’s far more accurate than check-in apps. Outside of Google’s project to map cities with Streetview cars – something which has taken years to complete – and the real-world mapping undertaken by volunteers on the Open Streetmaps open source project, there has been little to match Waze’s approach. Waze turned mapping into not only a game, but also a way for drivers to be social, reporting road obstacles, traffic and police traps. It is properly useful.
It would also cost Apple northwards of $500M+ to buy Foursquare (which has raised $71 million is known to be raising another round), and gain, what? The location of restaurants, bars and airports? Given Waze has raised $67 million, Apple could acquire far better mapping data and a real driving app.
Waze also allows users to share real-time information on traffic congestion, gas prices, accidents, speed traps and checkpoints, and more. Some data is automatically reported by simply having the iPhone application open while driving.
Both companies declined to comment on the rumor. I believe, if Apple acquires Waze, it will be significant gain for the company because of the mapping data Waze has to offer.
Today, Google has released a standalone Maps app for iOS [App Store]. It is available via the App Store for free. The new app offers a significant number of features that weren’t offered in the built-in Maps app on iOS 5 and earlier. Turn-by-turn directions are offered along with the famous Street View.
Here’s the full list of features the Google Maps app offers:
- Find addresses, places and businesses around the world with Google local search.
- Discover places to eat, drink, shop and play, with ratings and local reviews.
- Sign in to sync your searches, directions, and favorite places between your computer and your phone.
- Get voice guided, turn-by-turn driving directions.
- Find your way by train, bus, subway or walking directions.
- Access live traffic information in cities across the world.
Street View and imagery
- View 360-degree panoramas of places around the globe with Street View.
- See inside more than 100,000 businesses worldwide.
- View high resolution satellite imagery of locations around the world.
Simple and easy to use
- An entirely new Google Maps experience on your iPhone.
- Newly designed and streamlined interface for even easier navigation of your world.
- Use gestures to explore the map and browse results.
The app is not optimized for the iPad yet, but can be used as an iPhone app.
Since the time iOS 6 was officially released to the public, Apple has been criticized for replacing the original Maps.app powered by Google Maps with its own in-house solution. Now, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has published an open letter to customers on the company’s website addressing the criticism over the new Apple-powered Maps app in iOS 6. In the letter, Cook apologizes to customers for not meeting expectations and mentions a number of alternative mapping solutions customers may wish to use while Apple continues to makes Maps much better. Well done, Mr. Cook. Apple is specifically promoting a page for map application alternatives in the App Store.
To our customers,
At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.
We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.
There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.
While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.
Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.
I think what people fail to understand is that it took Google and many other mapping companies at least 5-7 years to create a great maps products. Apple’s only been in this business for a couple of years, but as time goes by, the Maps.app will undoubtedly improve.