Apple Maps

Yesterday, June 10, 2013, Apple announced major updates at WWDC 2013 conference, both software and hardware-wise. And while everyone is talking mostly about the new iOS 7 and its flat design, I can’t help but look at Apple’s new standalone Apple Maps application that will be made available with OS X Mavericks.

While Apple did offer a new Apple maps client on its current iOS 6, the user experience had still a lot to desire from. Having this in my head’s back, I was surprised to see a desktop client made available in OS X Mavericks. This surprise was a good one for many reasons, mainly because it made me think about the end game behind Apple’s heads.

Since the relationship between Apple and Google deteriorated some time ago, it seems that the crevasse now is getting bigger and bigger. One would say that the break-off is actually completed with the introduction of a desktop client for Maps. I will not venture on the reasons behind this cold war between the two companies, but the steps they both make with their new product releases show an interesting long-term strategy.

The ability to research addresses, routes and neighbourhoods and send them to you iPhone is eye-catching and probably will sell a Mac or two, but this is not IT. Google has its Google Places. It also has traffic information and many other add-ons that go with its apps. On top of it, virtually every Internet user has used it at least once or is using it often.  To not have Bing Maps faith (which has taken a backstage place), Apple has to offer a similar experience to the user and match Google’s offering.

Apple seems to have big plans for its Maps. These plans will make the firing of VPs, the investment of the huge amount of man-hours on its development and the serious commitment probably worth it… So, here is what I think will come up:

  1. Multiple add-ons to maps through acquisitions or in-house development: Apple will be looking into a tighter implementation of compiled location marks with Yelp and third-party providers. Why not even buying Foursquare. The entries offering needs a boost worldwide and not only in the USA. Content in social localisation is everything. Or at least, almost everything. On the other hand, we are still waiting for a firmer software answer to the question “How to get there”- a deeper integration of public transport and traffic information where the game of big and open data is already on.
  2. Across the platform synergy: We already see Apple Maps integration with Calendar, Siri and other Apple products. Cross-platform/app availability of content enriches the information flow. It also adds to the user’s experience in general.
  3. The walled garden: Apple loves completing cycles. Navigation is a core element of the mobile experience. As such, they certainly wouldn’t like to leave that experience to other companies. Especially the ones that do not share ad revenue with them.
  4. Wearable tech: As Tim Cook mentioned in his interview at All Things D 2013, this is an interesting playground for Apple. They will probably not come up with a direct competitor for Google Glass. Well, at least not as glasses, but my bet is that they are working on something. Maybe a piece of tech can put on the wrist. Maps will sure be part of it.
  5. iMaps: Imagine a map where you will be able to publish your business offers and discounts and be able to bid better visibility, or in the case of implementation with Siri  – a voice announcement. Imagine also Reminders on steroids that let you know immediately when you are in the vicinity of a supermarket so you can get that carton of milk and a dozen eggs. Now think like an advertiser with a marketing dollar to spend.

The times ahead of Maps look interesting. There is an abundance of opportunities to create, implement and synergize on both the app and cross-platform level.

I am sure you probably have other ideas about Apple’s Maps. Care to share them with my readers in the comment section below and me?

Image source: borrowed from Gizmodo’s post on the new Apple Maps. Check it out!

Copyright © 2013 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.