Update: The new Google Maps app is now available on the App Store.
Google announced an update for its Google Maps for iOS app today that adds a fresh new Material Design layout focusing on bright colors and real world surfaces and shadows. The software’s refreshed interface is set to roll out over the next few days, with new features like dinner reservations from OpenTable (US only) and enhanced information cards with photos and reviews of popular attractions near your location.
Starting with iOS 5 in 2011, Apple has released a major new iOS version each fall and a notable follow-up update early in the following year. For example, iOS 6 launched in September 2012 and was updated to iOS 6.1 in January, and iOS 7, which was launched in September 2013, was updated to iOS 7.1 with CarPlay and interface improvements in March 2014. But starting with the recently released iOS 8, it appears that Apple has a different development schedule for 2015 and perhaps beyond. According to sources, Apple is already hard at work on three major follow-up versions to iOS 8: iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, and iOS 8.3.
We’ve confirmed that these major new versions are in development via two means. First, a developer of a major hardware-connected iOS application has shared with us their analytics, and this data indicates that all three versions are in testing by Apple employees in or around Cupertino, California. Second, and much closer to home, our own Google Analytics for 9to5Mac.com show that iOS users are visiting our website via iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, and iOS 8.3 devices. iOS 8.1 hits to 9to5Mac.com started appearing even months before iOS 8.0 launched, but 8.2 and 8.3 visits only started picking up following iOS 8′s release in mid-September.
While Apple works on several iOS features and enhancements over the course of several years, it typically only begins wholly testing major new releases close to the ship dates of the preceding release. Apple working on three significant follow-ups to iOS 8 is a shift from the usual development cycle, one which would normally indicate Apple to be working on just iOS 8.1 as well as iOS 9.0. It’s possible that iOS 9 is also in the works, and of course Apple is always working on nominal bug fix (x.x.1 or .2 or .3) updates, but the fact that 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 are all in simultaneous development raises some interesting possibilities:
Now that Apple is 8.0.2 rolled out and we’re all relatively stable with a Healthkit-enabled OS, Apple is giving us a new section of the App Store for health-related apps.
Experience an entirely new approach to wellness where your fitness app can talk to your calorie tracker, your doctor can be automatically notified of updates to your health data, and great apps work together for a healthier you. This handpicked collection highlights the best fitness, nutrition, and medical apps customized for iOS 8.
Apple has steadily been adding new cities and locations with support for its 3D Flyover feature to its Maps app this year. The latest Flyover addition to Apple Maps includes support for two new locations: Wellington, New Zealand and Yosemite National Park, California. The addition of Wellington marks the third location in New Zealand to support Flyover with Auckland and Christchurch both previously being supported. Newly added 3D Flyover support for Yosemite National Park in California is especially notable though as Apple prepares to ship its redesigned Mac operating system named after the national park… Read more
Apple has shown a renewed focus on Maps with iOS 8. Although headline features like transit did not show at WWDC, recent iOS 8 betas are bringing improvements to the ‘Report A Problem’ features. The frequency at which these updates are passed through has also improved dramatically in the past couple of months.
Apple has added a new explicit ‘follow-up by email’ option at the end of the Report A Problem form. This means Apple is now actively looking to get additional information about map queries from customers via email.
Apple has for a long time hired engineers around the globe to contribute to making its Maps experience better. While positions for its team outside Cupertino usually consist of Maps Quality Analysts and Ground Truth managers that submit region specific corrections for Maps, a new job listing on Apple’s website hints at a “data-collection project” planned for New York. Read more
Apple’s Maps app, introduced as part of iOS 6 in 2012, has had its fair share of technical issues and was the source of a PR crisis and the ejection of multiple long-time Apple executives. But two years later, if data from UK carrier EE is any indication, Apple Maps usage appears to be on an upward trend. Here’s the latest usage data for Apple Maps from the network:
When Apple launched its first-party mapping software alongside iOS 6, users immediately discovered that there were a significant number of issues with the map data. Apple eventually issued an apology and said that the release was not up to the company’s standards. A new Reddit post today seems it point to the fact that Apple is finally ready to start making serious changes to how it corrects Maps data.
Ever since the app debuted, it has had an option to report incorrect POI data to Apple. Until recently, however, it seemed that those reports were simply going to an unmonitored inbox to make users feel like they’d done something to help.
Just over a week ago, Reddit user “heyyoudvd” noticed that a number of incorrect data points in his area had been corrected—more than had ever been fixed in the previous two years, and many of which he had reported. Now “heyyoudvd” says he’s noticed an even bigger change…
A few days ago, 9to5Mac published some details about the elusive City Tours feature of iOS 8 found hidden in secret debug menus. It was thought that this was the only way to see the feature. However, reader Stefan Kuijt has now discovered that the feature is actually exposed publicly in the iOS 8 UI, albeit extremely hidden. This means anyone with the iOS 8 beta can try City Tours without any modification. The video above shows the current public user-interface in action, touring a selection of France’s famous landmarks.
Back in September we reported that Apple was developing a feature to help users find their parked cars for its in-house Maps app. While that feature wasn’t officially debuted during WWDC last week, new icons found inside the Maps application indicate that the feature was in development at some point and is likely still be worked on.
As we originally noted:
Sources say that Apple is testing a tool for its Maps app that, with the M7 chip, could analyze when your car is parked. When you park your car, the iPhone will register the car’s location. Now when you return to the parking lot, your iPhone will be able to help you assist with finding your car since it knows the vehicle’s location.
TechCrunch is out with a story today with details on why some of the mapping features originally scheduled for iOS 8 didn’t make the cut at Apple’s WWDC keynote last week. The report quotes a few sources close to the mapping teams that say most of the improvements originally planned for iOS 8 weren’t finished on time due to talent departures and internal politics:
Why didn’t they appear? One tipster says it was a personnel issue: “Many developers left the company, no map improvements planned for iOS 8 release were finished in time. Mostly it was failure of project managers and engineering project managers, tasks were very badly planned, developers had to switch multiple times from project to project.”… It’s a take that is both contested and corroborated by our other source. “I would say that planning, project management and internal politics issues were a much more significant contributor to the failure to complete projects than developers leaving the group,” the source said.
We reported leading up to WWDC that the transit directions in iOS 8 might be pushed back to instead focus on other priorities.
While the TechCrunch report doesn’t mention any names, we do know that the mapping team has lost a few key people recently. Back in March, reports popped up that Cathy Edwards, who happened to be in charge of Maps Quality after joining Apple through the company’s acquisition of Chomp, was leaving the company. The reason behind Cathy’s departure was unknown at the time, but we’ve learned from sources that disagreements with employees on the Maps team working under Edwards and an opposition to her management style lead to problems on the Maps team and ultimately her leaving in April. Apple also lost key Maps team member Jared Waldman from Placebase who worked as Head of Geo at Apple Maps until late last year. In addition, we’ve heard from former employees of the mapping team that recently left the company due to issues with Edwards and management of the Maps team. Read more