The rest of it is speculation about what might exist.
A picture (tile) is worth at 1,000 words indeed.
I've often used the satellite/hybrid view to help orient myself in unfamiliar cities or areas by finding reference points (coloured buildings, obvious statues or landmarks etc)...
If you just want to know that a given address is on street X between avenues 4 and 5, then sure, but that's not the only use for a Maps app..
They're great for geocaching though.
It looks a lot like Google Earth. Google can just integrate Google Earth into the mobile maps to compete. They've already done it on the web version.
That said, having some competition in the market is a good thing. I do wish more of it was concentrated on free products like OpenStreetMap though.
This doesn't mean I don't think a new maps app is coming, I just don't think 9to5mac's sources would know about it if it was.
I highly doubt that Apple or the mapping companies it has acquired have quite the same coverage.
But more importantly, Street View is not as useful as having good and up to date maps. GMaps added the maps for my town much later, but now the maps have good coverage and are up to date. No other service is as good as GMaps for Europe, although Yahoo Maps was better for Europe a while back.
Another thing is turn by turn navigation. Google does have turn by turn navigation for my country, which is freaking awesome. Not only that but for my town they announced they are working on adding info on public transport routes.
And btw, when I'm saying "my town", I mean Bucharest, Romania, Eastern Europe. And I don't know how people cope with the above in other countries, but in Bucharest the data for turn by turn navigation and for the public transport routes has to be refreshed very often, so I'm sure it's a PITA doing this for so many countries.
They should direct their efforts to Open Maps instead...
I also do not think that the maps data in GMaps is created by "public, unpaid volunteers". This statement badly needs a reference.
I once tried submitting the details of a business in GMaps and the process was so awful that I gave up. But while I do agree that volunteers would better spend their time with OpenStreetMap or similar, it is really none of your business how people choose to spend their time.
Do a search on Google Map Maker if you need a reference.
People volunteer their time wherever they want, but OpenStreetMaps data stays open, while Google's becomes proprietary, for profit, the moment you put it in.
If nothing else, their database of businesses is hugely valuable and useful in its own app (it's what I use the Maps app for most and I don't think Apple will be able to fully replace it, at least not with the first iteration).
I thought Apple does not allow apps competing with the "core" apps.
* Opera vs Safari.app
* Sparrow vs Mail.app
* Vimeo vs YouTube app
* Agenda vs Calendar.app
* Kik vs Messages.app
* Simplenote vs Notes.app
There are no rules for approval on the appstore. Just guidelines.
If Apple feels like it is in their best interest, it will allow the Google Maps app in the Appstore. Otherwise it reject the app.
"We're gonna be driving around all these places anyway. Let's stick a camera on top of the cars when we do it."
Sure there is the physical drive around stuff. But if you look at the C3 stuff (the company Apple bought that turns satellite images into 3D views) you can see where they might go with it. Also they do have a ton of cash and it would be seriously less than half a billion dollars to take a picture of the world. You might even get Toyota to make the 'steet view' edition version of the Prius in quantity.
The key thought for me here is that if this report is true, then Apple has decided mapping is strategic and taken it in house. And like Google (who did this in part so they could offer turn by turn directions ) they could exploit data they own for a wide variety of purposes.
 The original sources of Google's map information did not include a license to use it for turn by turn as that was exclusively given to another company by the vendor. Google had to acquire their own data without those restrictions in order to do navigation.
I myself can't think of any strategic reasons beyond competition with Google.
It isn't well known but all of these databases of aerial imagery, maps, street directions, speed limits, addresses are all sometimes licensable by third parties, sometimes not, and sometimes at extortionate rates.
How much of your mobile experience hinges on your use of location data? From turn by turn directions, general maps, businesses nearby, mass transit schedules, to friend locations and check-ins. Bottom line, Geographic information systems (GIS) data is a must-have feature for a smartphone.
Google has started raising the price on access to their data, this started a while ago and its been in fits and starts, but Apple can't just 'dump' all map info. Microsoft, same deal $$ for map datasets. So Apple is in the position of its two largest competitors having a way to suck arbitrary amounts of money out of them because they are suppliers of the 'must' have data on a smartphone.
New independent companies that can create GIS datasets can't compete with 'free' from Google and Microsoft for users, and even if they succeeded in creating a decent database and Apple used it, they would be subject to being purchased by Google or Microsoft. Finally there are patents (of course) around the use of map data and constructing maps etc from imagery, which a small company could not defend against but Apple can.
Therefore Apple has to own a GIS database that is at least as good as Google's version so that it can continue to provide a critical feature on their phone cost effectively.
"but it is described as a much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience"
I'm sorry, but what a lot of bullshit.
I'm sure Apple could improve those things and I may well notice and appreciate the improvements. But I'd much rather see turn by turn navigation and useful traffic data. 
 By useful, I just mean something proactive and actionable. Allowing me to manually scan my route to look for yellow and red highlights doesn't really help. And by the time I know I'm in a jam, it's not a huge help to know how far the jam is. It's nice, but I'm already in the jam.
It would be awesome if we could get something that takes a programmed commute and sends notifications about backups not yet encountered and offers alternate routes -- taking into account the full traffic situation. So that if the 'obvious' detour is already also backed up, it doesn't send me that way either.
In case you aren't aware, the Android version doesn't download the image tiles, rather it downloads the raw data and renders the streets and everything client side. This makes it much faster to get the data and makes a smoother zoom experience.
The turn by turn, though, would be much more welcome. Though now that I think about it, turn by turn would increase my use dramatically and probably expose more poor network situations where the client-side rendering would make a difference.
Imagine my surprise when not only did it not have turn by turn navigation, but it didn't recalculate the route when we made a wrong turn and were clearly driving off of the calculated path. I couldn't believe that such a feature was missing on the iPhone version of Google Maps.
Is there some reason that this is the case? I don't know enough about mapping and phones to know if this is due to some technical limitation or not.
The app is made by Apple, not Google, though it is using Google's API. So it isn't really "Google" Maps.
That is exactly the reason why Apple has to do it on their own. It might be worse than Google Maps (at least in the beginning or forever), but at least it will allow for progress.
Google doesn’t allow third party developers (and that includes Apple, obviously) to offer turn-by-turn navigation. Here are the terms (10.2 c): https://developers.google.com/maps/terms
Letting Google build the maps app is obviously out of the question. That’s a pretty ridiculous idea. Would Google let Apple build a critical piece of Android? Obviously not.
(Also, where has Google made that clear? That’s a serious question. I’m not aware of any such statements from Google, so it would be awesome if you could point me in their direction.)
When my GPS broke down, I didn't start using my phone, I just bought another GPS for 99 euro.
(And funny thing is the old one has just some loose wires and could be fixed a few months later by an electrician.)
Which is that iOS users have been denied the luxury of excellent and free turn-by-turn navigation available on Android, and this maps update does nothing to address that.
Of course, they'd undercut all the paid turn-by-turn apps, but they haven't been shy about that sort of thing in the past.
The 99 euro GPS I was talking about was the cheapest in store and it even had Traffic Message Channel (TMC), something the older one didn't.
Also, the GPS would get super hot in the windshield -- I would have never used my phone instead!
Anyhow, all that out of the way, I guess you are right that turn by turn would be nice on iOS.
But since a mobile app depends on a mobile data plan I could never use it when I need the GPS the most: when I'm abroad.
Within the US I guess it would make sense to start using you phone and your data plan as a GPS, but within EU it would get really expensive really fast. That's why a dedicated GPS unit seemed to me like a better idea.
Microsoft was blasted because you had no choice in the matter, even if you wanted to use a different browser than IE, there was no way to make anything but IE behave well with the rest of the OS.
Every other GPS system, including the expensive Navigon package I bought for my iPhone ask you State? City? Street? Number? Oh how I'd love for someone to be able to text me their address while I'm driving and be able to click the link and be automatically routed.
Google's upper hand is in integration. If I had a Tom Tom or a Garmin that could read my email or texts and then start navigating, I'd buy it.
But normal people doesn't.
Editing something is usually fast, having it percolate to all users of the data is much longer (for GMaps, but I expect it's similar for OSM).
I understand the Google version uses vectors rather than images, so it should work better, but never did for me.
This is just another rumor speculating about things that were speculated on last month, and the month before that, etc. I guess I don't understand what makes this one so much more interesting or credible/worthy of much discussion.
Edit: Also, the link/headline is totally misleading. I'm sure others have said this too.
Hn is run on a software stack that allows a registered user to submit a link/URL to an item they determine to be of potential interest to the community.
After that link is submitted it appears on the listing of recently submitted articles at the /newest URL. Other users (with sufficient karma) that also find the link of value either upvote it, flag it, and/or comment on it.
As an item receives upvotes and/or comments an algorithm ranks it accordingly amongst other submitted stories, making it potentially visible on the "front page" of the site.
An items ranking is an overall generic indication that a sufficient number of users have found it noteworthy (or not).
It's all really pretty basic and uses a concept that has been around for about 7 or 8 years now. However this "how did this item get to the front page..." question seems to come up with enough frequency that an answer should be more easy to find, or maybe even be emailed to all new accounts so that people will not need to ask these sorts of questions amongst discussions of the article itself.
Because the HN community as a whole is actually interested in different topics/items than what he personally suspects it is interested in?
Because HN has changed/declined/gone to shit/been overrun with trolls from reddit/fosters a secret voting cabal/etc.?
Really, how many times are this "How did this get on the front page" kinds of questions going to be asked? I'm somewhat shocked those questions/comments don't get downvoted to hell, but then again I guess the HN community as a whole doesn't always feel the same way I do :) I just read what interests me...
It's common knowledge that Apple has been buying maps companies to build their own app, but AFAIK this is the first time we've gotten a solid release date.
It's not as if Apple doesn't permit them, they just choose not to include it for free.
Would you say Google is obligated to add free text messages to Android just because Apple has it (iMessage) and it saves money for people?
But know your route and Waze can be helpful and even a little fun.
What's clever is that they also generate automated suggested corrections. Like a local intersection has a little cut-through side road to turn right. It isn't on any maps, but people obviously take it, so Waze noticed a lot of people driving off road there instead of the suggested route, and flagged it as a possible correction.
Waze just seems to me like so much smarter a solution to GPS than the traditional providers. They actually use the two-way features of the phone in a way that a traditional GPS system will not.
Also, in a strange town traveling down a road for the first time in a rental car at 40 mph I'd like to have another 2 or prompts about which direction I'm going to be heading so I can get in the correct lane.
http://maps.nokia.com/37.7976001,-122.3979938,17.42,195.29,7... (requires Plugin)
WebGL Version: http://maps.nokia.com/webgl/#|37.7976|-122.3979938|0|900|70|...
In fact, that might even be better for Google. They've griped in the past about how Apple was slow to implement new features.
In particular, I know they hated the YouTube app (which Apple made). That's why the mobile site no longer redirects to the app - they wanted to be able to control the experience and iterate faster.
(I suspect the only reason Google hasn't terminated their agreement on the preinstalled apps already is because having YouTube and Google Maps on every single iOS device is worth more than fast integration of new features.)
I hope they choose to release it only for the iPad or iPod touch to gauge reaction before releasing it to iPhone users. I think the average usage of those products would allow a pretty Maps app that still needs fleshing out, whereas I need my phone maps app to be reliable over all else.
Seeing that smartphones are increasingly replacing standalone consumer GPS solutions, I think its fair to say that Apple dropped the ball on this one. Maybe I'm jaded but who cares about 3D pictures when what I really want is a solution to get from A to B?
It is impressive but not really hard (theoretically).
Check out eg http://maps3d.svc.nokia.com/webgl/index.html
Linkbait-conspiracy-tech-blog-post in 3...2...1
"We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make. We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution." – Tim Cook on Apple's philosophy.
(full text here: http://destraynor.com/cook/)
That said, Google's been doing this for years and this is kind of the thing that they would be very good at (making sense out of a large corpus of data quickly). I'd be very surprised if Apple's new maps were as good out the door (let alone better).