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Mystery of maps.apple.com revealed: it's for sharing between OS X Mavericks, iOS

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
The purpose of Apple's maps.apple.com domain is explained in OS X Mavericks as being a way to share maps with other users, whether they have access to Apple Maps or not, rather than pointing to a standalone web service.

OS X Mavericks iOS 7 Maps
Source: Apple


Last fall, AppleInsider reader Feynman noted that Apple had registered maps.apple.com as a URL that, in iOS 6, opened by default in Apple's new Maps app rather than Safari.

The URL domain was later noted to be in use in the new iOS 6 Maps app to share a location via email, iMessage Twitter or Facebook. Opened by an iOS 6 device, the URL resolves to open Maps, but when users on other platforms attempt to open a maps.apple.com URL, it is resolved by Apple to URL coordinates that point to Google Maps, allowing other users to see the map in their browser.

In OS X Mavericks, Apple has added its own native Mac Maps client, which uses the same sharing options as iOS 6 Maps while also adding new support for AirDrop.

OS X Mavericks Maps


When you share a location to email, for example, Maps creates a new message (depicted above) with an maps.apple.com URL, a standard .vcf that can be opened by Contacts (below) or any other standards-based contacts app, and an image of the location being viewed.

OS X Mavericks Contacts


With a native Mac app, it makes even more sense for Apple to use its own URL domain. Just as with iOS 6, OS X Mavericks opens a shared location in the form of a maps.apple.com URL in Maps, but when users outside the Apple ecosystem try to look up the URL, Apple redirects them to coordinates in Google Maps that work in any web browser.

Why Apple isn't in the browser maps business



Earlier speculation suggested that Apple might seek to open its own HTML-based Maps website, making its custom maps, search and directions available to any browser-connected user, just as both Google and Nokia do, among others.

However, in order to reach the majority of web users, Apple would need to simplify its Maps offerings the way Google and Nokia do in their basic maps. For their more advanced 3D offerings, the two companies must either use a web plugin (as Nokia does) or only support specific browsers (as Google does for its advanced WebGL maps project, which only works in Chrome or Firefox).


Google Maps 3D


Google Maps 3D still a work in progress


Instead, Apple had exclusively targeted only its own native iOS and OS X clients, with no web interface. That allows to to focus entirely upon providing a native experience, rather than adapting its maps to work on the web. Reaching the masses has been delegated to Google Maps.

OS X Mavericks iOS 7 Maps
Source: Apple


Compared to a web based offering, Apple's native Mac app allows for much faster performance, supports familiar multitouch gestures like pinch to zoom, directly integrates with Contacts, syncs location Bookmarks with iCloud and can share locations and directions using standard Share Sheets via email, iMessage, nearby users with AirDrop or to Twitter and Facebook.

In order to compete against Apple Maps on iOS and OS X, Google and Nokia are both using web-only tools for the Mac, and only Google offers a truly native iOS app. Nokia Now for iOS basically wraps a less sophisticated web view.

Apple's strategy also simplifies its third party development APIs for Maps, as it can focus entirely on Cocoa developers without also building a web-based API as Google and Nokia have. This focus has allowed Apple to catch up with the larger map players, both of which had native clients for their own Android and Windows Mobile platforms before Apple.

In just its first year, Apple has been able to rapidly deploy advanced, vector based maps and 3D satellite images on both its desktop and mobile platforms, and allow its iOS and OS X app developers to leverage its map service in their own apps.
post #2 of 22

I really think they should expand Maps to iCloud (the web interface) with an HTML 5 implementation (i.e., no plugins required, just a modern browser). That way Windows users with iCloud accounts have access to same mapping data they have on their iOS devices.

 

Though, they'll have to go "open web" at maps.apple.com, I think, if Google decides it would rather stick it to Apple and users than get the traffic Apple is directing their way.

post #3 of 22
Which means we still need a stand alone Maps on the Web.

Geez, they ported Pages to HTLM5, but not Maps?!
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

I really think they should expand Maps to iCloud (the web interface) with an HTML 5 implementation (i.e., no plugins required, just a modern browser). That way Windows users with iCloud accounts have access to same mapping data they have on their iOS devices.

 

Though, they'll have to go "open web" at maps.apple.com, I think, if Google decides it would rather stick it to Apple and users than get the traffic Apple is directing their way.

 

There's a reason why the new Google Maps requires a special browser to do 3D, and even then is quite limited. Also, the UI for web browsers has to be simpler. You can't capture various gestures. The web and native development aren't equal, or ChromeOS would be doing well. 

 

Apple has done rich app development in HTML5: the new iWorks for iCloud shows that. But there, Apple is spreading the legitimacy of iWork files and opening up more flexible doc editing options. There's not equivalent to reverting to Google Maps in that category. But for Maps? Why not use Google to service Windows users? It worked pretty well for expanding WebKit at the expense of IE. 

post #5 of 22

This is exactly the kind of integration between OS X and iOS that will lead to a lot more cool stuff in the future. Google and Microsoft are hardly friends so they will never have this level of integration between Windows and Android. Apple will have the iPhone, iPod, iPad, Apple TV and Macs all working beautifully together. Messages in mountain lion was just a small taste as is maps and airplay. There is still a lot more integration and synergy between Macs and iOS devices that can and will occur. All of the pieces of the puzzle are finally starting to fall into place. 

post #6 of 22
Really?!?! appleinsider@gmail.com!!!

Edit: I just want to be clear that just because I obviously don't use Google products doesn't mean that no one should, but for heavens sake you're an Apple website!?
Edited by dalutulak - 6/26/13 at 11:56am
post #7 of 22

Hopefully with this new maps website, error reports will now be addressed and corrected in a more timely manner.  It will certainly be easier to report on a computer with a keyboard.  I reported several errors in my city over a year ago but I still see the erroneous data listed in Apple maps. I think this is certainly one area where Google leads with their faster response to correcting errors. Those same errors I reported to Apple I also reported to Google since they had the same mistakes and they corrected them in only a few weeks. That was a year ago and the Apple maps still show the mistake. If Apple can speed up error reporting and encourage more reports from end users that would improve the accuracy tremendously. Of course I also understand the need for verification as there are a lot of malicious idiots out there that want to report false information as well so you have to guard against false reports and have some verification in place. 

post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalutulak View Post

Really?!?! appleinsider@gmail.com!!!

missed that until you pointed that out......

I love the integration and synergy between IOS and OSX...this is why we buy Apple products...they all work so well together  so well. I should be able to look up directions on my rMBP and have it available on my iPhone when I get to the car without having to look it up again?

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post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Instead, Apple had exclusively targeted only its own native iOS and OS X clients, with no web interface. That allows to to focus entirely upon providing a native experience, rather than adapting its maps to work on the web. Reaching the masses has been delegated to Google Maps.

 

Until Apple reaches out to the masses with its Maps offering, it won't have the same level of crowd-sourced accuracy as Google Maps. There's plenty of advantages to giving users a native experience but I don't think it should be prioritised over reliably getting people to where they need to go.

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

 

There's a reason why the new Google Maps requires a special browser to do 3D, and even then is quite limited. Also, the UI for web browsers has to be simpler. You can't capture various gestures. The web and native development aren't equal, or ChromeOS would be doing well. 

 

Apple has done rich app development in HTML5: the new iWorks for iCloud shows that. But there, Apple is spreading the legitimacy of iWork files and opening up more flexible doc editing options. There's not equivalent to reverting to Google Maps in that category. But for Maps? Why not use Google to service Windows users? It worked pretty well for expanding WebKit at the expense of IE. 

 

Well, yes, obviously, native apps are always (at least in my lifetime) going to work better than web apps, and web implementations of Maps will likely be more basic than native implementations. I think that's fine, and it's what people ought to expect, for any software.

 

However, as you point out, Apple has done some pretty cool stuff in HTML5 and they could apply that expertise to creating a version for iCloud, even if it's functionality is more basic. Perhaps they are already working on it, but the development is not as high a priority as Maps on OS X and iOS, or even iWork on iCloud. As far as not using Google to service Windows users, some of those Windows users are also iOS, and thus Apple, users, and iCloud users, and why shouldn't they enjoy the benefits of that ecosystem, free of dependence on Google?

 

As far as a straight, web-based, maps.apple.com, open to every one, I don't see them going there, nor should they, unless Google becomes spiteful. (And, even then, it wouldn't necessarily be entirely straightforward to block these redirects.) I don't imagine Google will do that, click whores that they are, since it would a) cut into their ad revenue and b) just annoy people. So, there wouldn't really be much of an upside for them to turn that traffic away. 

post #11 of 22

Sigh. Typical Apple. Create a wonderful product, but limit its use and functionality. iChat, iMessage, FaceTime, iCloud..... The list is endless.

 

Some day, the company will wake up to all the possibilities offered by why and now network externalities matter for consumers.

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Last fall, AppleInsider reader Feynman noted that Apple had registered maps.apple.com as a URL that, in iOS 6, opened by default in Apple's new Maps app rather than Safari.

registering a URL? really? where? how? whom with?

you register domain names with an internet registrar, a process which modifies the DNS. and then define subdomains (e.g., maps.apple.com), again via DNS. what is it you do for a living?
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post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post


registering a URL? really? where? how? whom with?

you register domain names with an internet registrar, a process which modifies the DNS. and then define subdomains (e.g., maps.apple.com), again via DNS. what is it you do for a living?

 

Don't get snarky. The author has "A decade of experience in technical consulting or employment in information technology, recognized by the University of California to be equivalent to a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.". 1wink.gif

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post

registering a URL? really? where? how? whom with?


you register domain names with an internet registrar, a process which modifies the DNS. and then define subdomains (e.g., maps.apple.com), again via DNS. what is it you do for a living?

Don't get snarky. The author has "A decade of experience in technical consulting or employment in information technology, recognized by the University of California to be equivalent to a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.". 1wink.gif

Yeah... I bought mine at Taco Bell!
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post #15 of 22
I so hate web apps. They feel cheap. Even google docs, right clicking is just a web browser menu for example. Navigation buttons are equivalent of closing. Its just so weird.
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post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalutulak View Post

Really?!?! appleinsider@gmail.com!!!

Edit: I just want to be clear that just because I obviously don't use Google products doesn't mean that no one should, but for heavens sake you're an Apple website!?

It's great that you don't think your aversion of of Google products does not have to be adopted by others.

 

But perhaps you can consider further opening your mind to the possibility that there is really nothing wrong with someone running an Apple forum using Google products. After all, Google employees use Macs and iPhones. Apple uses Azure. Microsoft employees use iPhones. And on and on and on ...

post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Sigh. Typical Apple. Create a wonderful product, but limit its use and functionality. iChat, iMessage, FaceTime, iCloud..... The list is endless.

Some day, the company will wake up to all the possibilities offered by why and now network externalities matter for consumers.

I think it is more a matter of logistics and infrastructure.

Consider:
-- the Online Apple Store [servers] cannot handle first-day orders of a new iPhone, iPad...
-- the Mac App Store [servers] cannot handle first-day orders of a new OS X release
-- the IOS Update [servers] cannot handle first-day downloads of a new iOS release
-- the Apple Developer [servers] cannot handle first-day downloads of a New Xcode, iOS or OSX developer release

Apple has ~= 150 Million computers/iDevices installs...

MS has ~= 6 Billion Windows installs...

Even if only 10% of Windows customers wanted to access services you describe, it would swamp the Apple servers.



Years ago (before the Internet) some consulting firm tried to come up with a a way to predict what would happen in scenario similar to this sort of concentrated activity...

Something like:
Quote:
"What would happen if ten's of millions of people all called the same phone number at the same time?"

After, consideration, the best comparison they could come up with was: "It would be like all the urinals in New York City flushing at the same time!"


Their recommendation was: "Not to worry -- you'll be up to your ears in piss, first!"

Edited by Dick Applebaum - 6/26/13 at 4:40pm
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post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Create a wonderful product, but limit its use and functionality.

To stuff that works instead of every single last nook and cranny, but not working at all.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalutulak View Post

Really?!?! appleinsider@gmail.com!!!

Edit: I just want to be clear that just because I obviously don't use Google products doesn't mean that no one should, but for heavens sake you're an Apple website!?
Wow never saw that

This maps for web would probably use apple fancy stuff (QuickTime etc.) so with windows users dropping quickly it would not work with the (surprisingly quickly increasing) cheap idiots buying the chrome books.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Sigh. Typical Apple. Create a wonderful product, but limit its use and functionality. iChat, iMessage, FaceTime, iCloud..... The list is endless.

Some day, the company will wake up to all the possibilities offered by why and now network externalities matter for consumers.

OK, I'll bite. What, in your sighing wisdom, are those "possibilities?" And why would they matter to a company whose goal is to sell hardware, not ads? Exactly which consumers do you think they're trying to reach?

One day people will get it in their heads that (thankfully) Apple isn't Google.

Sighing in a post may make you think you're smarter than somebody else, but it really doesn't make anybody else think you're that smart.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post

registering a URL? really? where? how? whom with?

you register domain names with an internet registrar, a process which modifies the DNS. and then define subdomains (e.g., maps.apple.com), again via DNS. what is it you do for a living?

Actually, that's only one use for the term "registering." You also register URLs internally in an operating system like iOS as default locations for web services used by specific application frameworks. That has nothing to do with domain name registry. In fact, if you read carefully, which I'm sure you usually do before making comments where you criticize a person's intelligence or livelihood, you will notice that the author doesn't even mention domain name registry.

I'll be happy anytime to help you expand your understanding of frameworks for operating systems, or at least point you to documentation at developer.apple.com, if it's as limited as it seems from your post. (But I promise I won't imply you shouldn't have the job you have because of that.)
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Sigh. Typical Apple. Create a wonderful product, but limit its use and functionality. iChat, iMessage, FaceTime, iCloud..... The list is endless.

 

Some day, the company will wake up to all the possibilities offered by why and now network externalities matter for consumers.

Horses for courses, as they say. Or as Mum used to say: "One thing at a time, and that done well is a very good thing, as many can tell".

 

It really isn't Apple's modus operandi to attempt "being all things to all people", as some other vendors we won't mention seem to do.

 

This merely results in diving into various markets occupied by friends and foes alike, leading to enmity, litigation, duplicated effort and half-baked offerings that remain in Beta for almost their entire life-cycle.

 

Charity as they say should begin at home, in this case with the iOS/OS X User Experience which is enjoyed by over half a billion savvy, lavish-spending and loyal customers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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