Apple Maps leads explain how the company salvaged the app despite rocky initial launch

Apple Maps has seen a lot of upgrades over the last few years and specifically this fall with iOS 15 and another update just landing at the tail end of 2021. Now CNN has interviewed two Apple Maps leaders to learn more about the service including how it turned around the app and why Apple thinks it should be your go-to choice.

The big Apple Maps overhaul was first announced back in 2018 with the main portion of that being complete in the US in January 2020. Since then we’ve seen Apple expand on that new foundation around the globe and in the US in 2021.

CNN sat down with David Dorn, product lead, and Meg Frost, design lead for Apple Maps to get some behind-the-scenes details on the upgrades the service has seen this year. Notably, the changes have helped turn around the service from following competitors like Google Maps to leading in some areas.

From 3D view for the world globe now available to 3D landmarks in more cities, here’s what Frost had to say:

Before the new map, we had a two-dimensional product and we really had a flat representation of the world. So we took the opportunity to create a realistic globe that accurately represents the sizes of countries in 3D.

Another change has been improved navigation for car, walking, biking, and transit. Frost says the new details should aid with “split-second decision” making:

“At a glance, drivers can understand a complex intersection more quickly than ever before,” said Frost. “And that detail helps with that split-second decision of which turn they’re going to make. So we want it to be both safer and visually satisfying to navigate.”

For the new 3D Landmarks showing up in select cities on Apple Maps, Frost said that the team handcrafts a 3D mesh of the actual building and then applies it to the base map. That means the 3D Landmarks are super accurate.

And this is an area where Apple is now ahead of Waze and Google Maps.

Radio City Music Hall in New York City is complete with proper-colored lighting. The Arch, trees and pond in Washington Square Park look pristine. And the Philadelphia Museum of Art is complete with a statue of Rocky at the bottom. In DC, Apple’s recreation of the national monuments and memorials can be used on a Mac or iPad in class for educational purposes.

As for why people should pick Apple Maps over other options, Dorn shared three reasons, Apple’s dedication to improvement, privacy, and design/ecosystem:

Dorn described the advantages as a three-pronged approach for why Apple Maps should at least be considered as your map of choice. Firstly, Apple is making a large investment into Maps to continue making it better. Privacy is central to it, in that you don’t need to make a separate account and they aren’t tracking your location for data purposes. Third is the design and ecosystem that Maps plays into. The integration with other Apple devices and services is a key aspect of this service.

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