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Apple’s New Map, Expansion #7: Final Parts of the Continental U.S. (justinobeirne.com)
119 points by Amorymeltzer on Feb 2, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments

There was off ramp that changed 4 years ago near where I live. Google maps was correct, but Apple always would have you take the wrong exit and you had to loop back. With the most recent update this is finally fixed. However most people still saying that Apple Maps in unreliable. Having big issues like that for years can really damage people’s perception of your product long after it has been changed.

And yet it's still wrong often enough to be useless. I'm in near-Boston suburbs (Arlington), and every so often I give Apple Maps a try, and literally every single time I do it's just awful. I just asked it for directions from my work to my house, for example, and it routed me on a limited-access, no motor vehicle bicycle path.

I work in downtown Boston and my building's address isn't in Apple Maps. It "corrects" it to some place in JP, which is a residential address. There are several restaurants and and companies in this building, all marked as being in JP. I have submitted a lot of map corrections but all that does is move the location of the business on the map even though it still has the wrong address listed, and navigating to it still brings you to the wrong place.

Is that true now with the new data?

True as of just now, so yes.

That’s not good!

I’d highly encourage you to report this issue. Can’t promise it’ll be looked at anytime soon, but it’s good to put into the queue:


I posted this on another comment but I curious if you have any advice.

I work in downtown Boston and my building's address isn't in Apple Maps. It "corrects" it to some place in JP, which is a residential address. There are several restaurants and and companies in this building, all marked as being in JP. I have submitted a lot of map corrections but all that does is move the location of the business on the map to the right place even though it still has the wrong address listed. That means if you actually try to navigate to them, it brings you to the wrong place. It also means no location based triggers work for things like Homekit and/or reminders. There are hundreds of people in this building, right in downtown. How do I get it to understand this address?

Yup. I live in Arlingon. I put in 123 mystreet street, arlington, ma ... and it navigates to 123 mystreet ROAD, belmont, ma.

My street has existed for 150 years.

Email my hn username, minus the number, at Apple and I’ll try to pass on the info. Note I don’t work on maps, but I’ll try to put the issue into the machine :)

Yeah, the thing is - this is not my responsibility. I just tried, for the hell of it, FIVE other common routes around Boston. One was bad (35 minute weird route, when the 'correct' one is under 10 - Google gets it right), two got the destination completely wrong, two were fine.

It's not "some things are bad, so let's clean it up and fix the problems". It's so bad as to be unusable.

Yeah, you're only going to get users to help out cleaning up your data if it's almost good enough. If it's bad enough that they simply can't use it, they'll help clean up your competitor's imperfect data instead.

I'd be happy to report maps issues for Apple, Google or any other corporation with a market cap of over $100 billion, at my consulting rate of $800/hour.

Of course, I contribute to OpenStreetMaps pro bono.

I wish Apple were to use and contribute to OSM, then folks could just fix issues they come across.

Yeah, perceptions like that are really hard to shake, because those people are likely all using Google Maps. I found Apple Maps used to be less reliable than Google Maps, but would still use it. For places that I wasn't sure of, I'd often double check on Google Maps just to be sure. Lately I've been finding more and more instances where - when they differ - the Apple Maps result is the correct one.

It'll be interesting to see how Apple communicate this to iOS users, and if they'll go out of their way to get back users they've lost to Google Maps.

I'm based in the UK, YMMV

In my area (Santa Rosa, CA) Apple Maps is still worse than Google Maps. The routing is often very strange and it sometimes still can't find stores like OfficeDepot close by.

POIs are a whole different story.

I can't speak for US but in Australia and UK it is so far behind Google. It feels like 1/3 of them are simply missing and a 1/3 of them are inaccurate in some way e.g. opening hours.

I don't know how Foursquare and Yelp who supply Apple are surviving right now with such inadequate data.

Does Apple let users update POIs? We went to a restaurant recently and it was closed, I snapped a photo of the hours and tagged the restaurant with it in Google Maps and it was updated to reflect the correct hours the same day.

1. Press the circle-i icon on the top left of Maps. 2. Select Report an Issue 3. Select Map Labels 4. Fill out the form, and add pictures. 5. Wait a few weeks.

I've added my workplace this way.

Years ago Apple maps got me really good. It told me to drive down a road, and then exit on what turned out to be an overpass. Which forced me into a very long round trip that went through a toll gate twice.

I've recently switched to using apple maps exclusively as much as possible, and TBH its gotten quite comparable to Google maps. There are still remote places (e.g an address in a small town) which apple maps struggles to find, but for the most part within cities I find myself reaching more often for apple maps.

I'm also one of those people who struggles to translate navigation instructions on a map to real world turns. So features such as highlighting and Stop signs & Traffic signals go a long way in helping me navigate safely.

Apple Maps displaying stop signs and traffic lights is a killer feature for me. Made me switch from Gmaps.

How does he get those cutout comparison tiles exactly identical in perspective, position, and zoom level? Does he have some call that allows doing that?

Not sure if this works.

But Apple Maps exists as an OSX app so you could possibly use Apple Script to open the app, navigate to a point and take a photo.

Was wondering that myself. Presumably when you update your maps app or when the server updated, you have no more access to the old maps. Unless he took a whole lot of screenshots in preparation?

The URL to an Apple Maps tile includes a version number and numerous style options. It's possible the author knows about historical tile versions and updates the URL to fetch older versions, or has been archiving Apple's tiles periodically.

Grabbed the tile from Apple's page here: https://developer.apple.com/maps/web/

The author also has their email address listed on their site if we'd like a definite answer.

- - -

Edit: Looks like MapKit provides an easy way to take snapshots: https://developer.apple.com/documentation/snapshots

I completely forgot about Mapkit JS! I wonder how feature complete it is compared to Leaflet.

He could have done the whole “in preparation screenshot” thing using the js api. Or maybe there is a way to call and receive the old maps.

Perhaps soon we'll get cycling directions.

There is still too much use of green. At least for me, I think green = park. I live near the end of a bypass and on apple maps it looks like a big park. I don't think I would want to go have a picnic on the slope of an off-ramp.

Can someone tell me where did Apple get all this new data from? Was it taken from OSM, bought from Here Maps or some other provider or just built on their own from sattelites and on the ground surveys?

Previously they licensed TomTom's data and tried to fill in gaps with data from OpenStreetMap and others.

Now they have decided to build their own data set from scratch.

>So a new effort was created to begin generating its own base maps, the very lowest building block of any really good mapping system. After that, Apple would begin layering on living location data, high-resolution satellite imagery and brand new intensely high-resolution image data gathered from its ground cars until it had what it felt was a “best in class” mapping product.


That TechCrunch article has a good overview of their old and new mapping systems.

I don't have any insight into how they are choosing, but they are investing in improving OpenStreetMap in many places:


Here, Bing, and Apple have all pitched in to help OpenStreetMaps improve their processes and their dataset.

What's Here done?

Microsoft has long made Bing imagery available for tracing, it's only recently that they have done much with data.

None of the companies have really touched "processes", because OpenStreetMap doesn't really have any formal processes.

Due to ODbL licence they can't mix OSM data directly with other data.

Apple does use OSM data, but only in some countries (Belarus for example IIRC), as allowed by https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Licence/Community_Guidel...

Due to ODbL licence they can't mix OSM data directly with other data.

The ODbL has no restrictions on mixing, unlike the creative commons “no derivies” clause. The ODbL just says that you need to share those changes, and that new database, with everyone else. If we give you OSM data, you should give us back the data you combine with it.

If the other dataset doesn't allow that, then the restriction is from that dataset's licence, not from OSM's ODbL.

It appears to be most-of-the-above:


I appreciate the work this author does to compile these posts, but man, every time I visit his site, I get frustrated that there’s no way to stop the map animations to inspect in detail what has actually changed. Invariably, I get frustrated by the constant flashing back and forth and just close the tab without getting the information I’d actually like to get.

Always a wonderful work by Justin.

Apple Maps is no where near google maps. It took me to someone’s driveway as “an entrance to” an elementary school, when in reality the school was behind their backyard with no direct access. They haven’t fixed one thing I painstakingly reported over the years. I wanted Apple Maps to succeed but from what I gather they are too disorganized to compete with Google Maps.

How are they generating the 3D models of various landmark buildings? It's hard to believe that they were generated from photos, since the lines look so clean. But there are too many of them to do by hand, no?

The author of this post made other posts, including one discussing the building generation:


It appears to be a combination of algorithmic work from satellites with manual generation mixed in.

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