Apple hands off transit directions to third-party apps in iOS 6 Maps

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Rather than include transit and walking directions natively in the new Maps application in iOS 6, Apple will instead highlight third-party options available on the iOS App Store.

The ability of third-party developers to create transit apps for iOS 6 was highlighted by Apple's iOS software chief Scott Forstall at Monday's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. He noted that a new application programming interface for transit apps to interface with Maps is a part of iOS 6.

"When building Maps, we looked around and realized the best transit apps for metros, for hiking, for biking, are coming from our developers," Forstall told developers. "And so instead of trying to develop those ourselves, we are going to integrate and feature and promote your apps for transit right within the Maps app in iOS 6."

No further details on exactly how third-party applications will be discovered or promoted within iOS 6 Maps were provided. But release notes accompanying the first developer beta of iOS 6 describe how apps without their own map support have an easier way to launch the Maps application and display directions or points of interest.

"Apps that offer routing information, such as turn-by-turn navigation services, can now register as a routing app and make those services available to the entire system," the release notes explain.

Transit


"Registering as a routing app gives you more opportunities to get your app in front of users. Routing apps are not limited to just driving or walking directions. Routing apps can also include apps that provide directions for the user's favorite bicycle or hiking trail, for air routes, and for subway or other public transportation lines."

It goes on to say that Maps "knows about routing apps in the App Store," and will provide users with the option to download those applications for directions even if they are not already installed on that particular device.

The new APIs for routing and transit apps are a change from previous builds of iOS, which feature Google Maps data and services. Google's mapping solution features its own built-in directions for public transportation, biking, hiking and more.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    The keyword is within the maps app.. It would've sucked it was a separate third party solution outside of the maps app.

    I think that means the maps app will become a platform.
  • Reply 2 of 77


    I'm pretty sure for my city, nothing is easier than bringing up Maps and having Google tell me which bus to get on and when it leaves. Luckily I don't ride the bus much so it doesn't matter but this definitely that will be missed. I don't want to download 3rd party maps for every new city I'm instead versus just bring up Google Maps. At least Google will have a separate app so I can use their maps when needed.

  • Reply 3 of 77


    This is disappointing. I was always much more likely to use the walking directions with the phone

  • Reply 4 of 77
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member


    Apple has little choice—for now—but I very much hope this changes in future! Eventually maybe Apple can get transit deals in place.


     


    What this means is that I’ll be relying on Google-made maps app for this and for Street View. (They have until the fall to release their own app, and I’m sure they intend to.) It will probably be a very good app. And some (not all!) cities will also have their own transit app as well... which may or may not be any good. And then there’s the option of using Google’s mobile map site for transit. We have many options to get through this transition.


     


    That’s OK: I’ll get Apple’s new map features and I can still get transit directions too (even though my city has only 1 transit app and it’s poor).


     


    OK. But FAR from ideal:


     


    • Everything integrated into ONE app, the MAIN app with Apple ease-of-use, full integration with Safari location links, phone calls, etc., and all cities working the same as each other would be far better.


     


    • I want to be able to toggle between driving myself and taking the train/bus. And I want to be able to plan routes that cross through two neighboring cities’ transit systems, which Google can do.


     


    • Flyover would be great while on a bus, trying to orient yourself.


     


    • Many people will never get around to installing a Google app or other 3rd-party transit apps. (And 3rd-party transit apps can be terrible. Will they integrate Siri as well as Apple does? Probably not.)


     


    Oh, well... I’ll hang in there! I can use 2 maps app instead of 1 for a year or two if I must.

  • Reply 5 of 77
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Soundvision View Post


    I'm pretty sure for my city, nothing is easier than bringing up Maps and having Google tell me which bus to get on and when it leaves.


     



     


    Not for me. Maps is always wrong typically because the base info is outdated and it lacks updates for rerouting for events etc. Plus half the time it lacks one or more lines in the area that could be used. the Metro has their own web app and it is always correct so I use that. 

  • Reply 6 of 77
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,120member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by johnnyb0731 View Post


    This is disappointing. I was always much more likely to use the walking directions with the phone



    It does walking.  Scott was referring to mass transit.  Google's solution is about 90% wrong on Phoenix's mass transit schedule and is beyond worthless.  Individual developers have specific apps that are much better.

  • Reply 7 of 77
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    This is disappointing. I was always much more likely to use the walking directions with the phone

    If I understood it correctly, it means there's going to be transit, walking, hiking, etc. except its coming from 3rd party developers, and it will be integrated inside the maps app. I take that to mean there's going to be plenty of choices soon.
  • Reply 8 of 77


    Hmm, interesting. I've really only used it in a few cities and that was sparingly. Looks like others agree with you that the data is often times wrong.


     


    Maybe Apple went with the best solution after all.

  • Reply 9 of 77


    By the way, I have iOS 6 installed and walking directions are still loaded within the app. It's when you hit the mass transit button it takes you to the app store.

  • Reply 10 of 77


    I'm definitely apprehensive on this point. A lot of the bigger cities have quality third-party apps that may provide equivalent or enhanced functionality over Google Maps, but a lot of smaller locations have no real options outside of Google. Google's list of supported agencies is huge (http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/transit/text.html) and more get added all the time…

  • Reply 11 of 77

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post





    If I understood it correctly, it means there's going to be transit, walking, hiking, etc. except its coming from 3rd party developers, and it will be integrated inside the maps app. I take that to mean there's going to be plenty of choices soon.


     


    I'm a TomTom iPhone user. I'd love it if they integrated with the iOS map API so they could take advantage of the crowd sourcing abilities with their existing traffic re-routing. And map update pushes from the crowd sourcing...

  • Reply 12 of 77
    focherfocher Posts: 640member


    One of the slides during the iOS 6 portion of the WWDC keynote noted a Maps API. I suspect that a third party application will be able to use the API to integrate the mapping functionality into their own app, as opposed to providing a mechanism to add-on functionality within the Apple Maps app itself.


     


    All in all, I think this will be a much more powerful thing in the ecosystem and more akin to what Google offers with its maps. I suspect also that Apple will eventually take the most important stuff (like it has with turn-by-turn already) and incorporate it directly.

  • Reply 13 of 77
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,580member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Soundvision View Post


    I'm pretty sure for my city, nothing is easier than bringing up Maps and having Google tell me which bus to get on and when it leaves. Luckily I don't ride the bus much so it doesn't matter but this definitely that will be missed. I don't want to download 3rd party maps for every new city I'm instead versus just bring up Google Maps. At least Google will have a separate app so I can use their maps when needed.



     


    I'm pretty sure that for my city, nothing is worse than bringing up Maps and having Google tell me how to get somewhere on public transportation. Even their driving directions suck much of the time. I'm better off just asking someone on the street for directions than depending on Google. Consequently, the directions available in Maps are often worthless, so switching to integration with 3rd-party apps like HopStop will be a huge improvement.

  • Reply 14 of 77
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    wurm5150 wrote: »
    I think that means the maps app will become a platform.

    Bingo! We have a winner!

    I suspect an enterprising developer could even provide, dare we say it, a street level view app. Although iOS 6 Maps doesn't need a street level view.
  • Reply 15 of 77
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,223member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cyberzombie View Post


     


    I'm a TomTom iPhone user. I'd love it if they integrated with the iOS map API so they could take advantage of the crowd sourcing abilities with their existing traffic re-routing. And map update pushes from the crowd sourcing...



    Voluntary or involuntary 'crowd sourcing'?


     


    If the latter, there are clearly privacy issues. If the former, why should I trust the data without knowing what percentage of how big a 'crowd' is being 'sourced' from?

  • Reply 16 of 77
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 822member
    Bingo! We have a winner!
    I suspect an enterprising developer could even, dare we say it, a street level view app. Although iOS 6 Maps doesn't need a street level view.

    This is actually extremely exciting. It means that now multiple sources (your local mass transit providers, an enterprising citizen, and entrepreneurial developer) can all provide the information which feeds into the Maps app, and the user can then pick and choose the one that provides the best info.

    What this means is that I can theoretically use Google's transit information while in NYC, and Nokia Maps while in the middle of Europe.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    sleepy3sleepy3 Posts: 244member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post





    Bingo! We have a winner!

    I suspect an enterprising developer could even, dare we say it, a street level view app. Although iOS 6 Maps doesn't need a street level view.


    3d fly-overs are cool but.....how are you gonna see inside of tunnels, buildings, caves, trails lined with trees etc using planes?


     


    You gotta get someone with equipment to physically go and capture all that stuff. Like what google are doing with the street view backpack. 


     


    Maps is no longer about roads. Its about cataloging the entire surface of the earth. I have no doubt apple will at some point make a competing product. 


     


    EDIT: However, if Apple decides to waive their rule about competing apps on the marketplace and allow google maps, iOS WILL have access to street view anyway.

  • Reply 18 of 77
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 822member
    Voluntary or involuntary 'crowd sourcing'?

    If the latter, there are clearly privacy issues. If the former, why should I trust the data without knowing what percentage of how big a 'crowd' is being 'sourced' from?

    Technically voluntary, but essentially involuntary. When you switch on location services, it will ask you to agree to sending anonymous location info for diagnostics and usage patterns.

    You agree to switch on location services, and if you disagree, "No Locations Services For You!" :-)
  • Reply 19 of 77
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    wurm5150 wrote: »
    If I understood it correctly, it means there's going to be transit, walking, hiking, etc. except its coming from 3rd party developers, and it will be integrated inside the maps app. I take that to mean there's going to be plenty of choices soon.

    Walking directions doesn't provide the same option within Maps that is provided for public transit. In other words, the developers app isn't an option directly within the Maps app if the directions are for walking. The walking directions appear to have no awareness of walking or hiking trails whatsoever.

    The likely proposed workflow by Apple is to ask Siri to "Open Hiker's Handbook" then use the app for directions, said app would use the embedded Maps functionality though.
    focher wrote: »
    One of the slides during the iOS 6 portion of the WWDC keynote noted a Maps API. I suspect that a third party application will be able to use the API to integrate the mapping functionality into their own app, as opposed to providing a mechanism to add-on functionality within the Apple Maps app itself.

    All in all, I think this will be a much more powerful thing in the ecosystem and more akin to what Google offers with its maps. I suspect also that Apple will eventually take the most important stuff (like it has with turn-by-turn already) and incorporate it directly.

    To be clear, although there aren't any options of which I am aware at the moment the public transit directions app selection appears to be embedded within Maps. For example, if I select the public transit option and choose my "from" and "to" locations, a "Routing Apps" view is displayed with the words "From the App Store" suggesting a list of options should appear.

    gordon1420 wrote: »
    I'm definitely apprehensive on this point. A lot of the bigger cities have quality third-party apps that may provide equivalent or enhanced functionality over Google Maps, but a lot of smaller locations have no real options outside of Google. Google's list of supported agencies is huge (http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/transit/text.html) and more get added all the time…

    NextBus is a likely developer in my opinion. Otherwise, developers can quickly and easily create a solution in their local area. A small developer in Boise, Idaho could make a few dollars on a public transit app for Boise I should think.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by johnnyb0731 View Post


    This is disappointing. I was always much more likely to use the walking directions with the phone





    And if Apple built it into Maps, thereby putting the app developers out of business, they'd have been 'evil'.


    A no-win for Apple.

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