Apple 'overhauling' the backend for its Maps service, hints at 'big plans' to come

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2014
The tools that provide access to Apple's Maps service are being rewritten in a major way, with the company now recruiting software engineers to help with a major rewrite of the Maps application programming interface, AppleInsider has discovered.

OS X Mavericks Maps


Apple's roadmap involves significant changes to the backend for the Maps services hosted from the company's servers. The details were revealed in a pair of new job postings (1, 2) this week for senior software engineers on the Maps API team.

"We've got big plans for our API -- we're looking for leaders that can design and build clean, scalable, and performance APIs, as well as design and build systems to trace, monitor, and debug requests once they enter our distributed backend systems with their complex dependencies," the listings read. "We're overhauling things front-to-back and want engineers that live and (breathe) distributed systems and services."

The listings would seem to suggest that Apple is planning to revamp its internal architecture for its Maps services nearly three years after it replaced Google -- and garnered criticism -- upon its debut in iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad.

Apple isn't just looking to revamp the backend for its Maps service, as the company is actively changing the data it presents to customers on a daily basis. This week, users discovered that Apple has been pushing out updates at 3 a.m. Eastern to update points of interests, roads and other mapping data, with some of the changes suggested by user reports.

iOS 7 Maps translucent chrome


For its new Maps API senior software engineers, Apple seeks candidates with bachelor's or master's degrees in computer science, or equivalent industry experience, to work at its Cupertino, Calif., corporate headquarters. The listings note that the Apple Maps service is found on hundreds of millions of devices and serves billions of requests per day.

"We're looking for cross-functional leaders to craft the service that receives, dispatches, and composes responses for the smorgasbord of actions that go into creating the Apple Maps experience," Apple said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    maps.apple.com please.
  • Reply 2 of 47
    Our little mapping service is growing up! Oh, but Google Maps doesn't need competition. Only Apple needs competition. Those are the forum rules. :D
  • Reply 3 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,171member
    Google Maps doesn't need competition. Only Apple needs competition. Those are the forum rules. :D

    :???:
    Google Maps was the scruffy underdog to Nokia, TeleAtlas, Mapquest, MSN Maps, Garmin, TomTom, Magellan and a few others. They did OK. Now Apple takes the underdog spot for awhile, and will probably end up just as successful if Apple is just as committed.
  • Reply 4 of 47
    curtis hannahcurtis hannah Posts: 1,802member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    maps.apple.com please.
    No sign of coming, and at this point the only way I see is if they integrate with iCloud website.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    Sounds like Huddler Lifestyle should apply for the job. They could make sure it crashes Safari and runs best on Chrome. And Unicode characters would turn into question marks. ;)
  • Reply 6 of 47
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    maps.apple.com please.

     

    maps.icloud.com would be more like it.

     

    I'm willing to bet iCloud will not only gain maps support, but eventually iMessage and Spotlight search as well. While many iHaters continue to beat the walled-garden drum, Apple is quietly building a web based application platform in iCloud that will surpass Google's Chrome initiative. Once they get the APIs refined and set in stone, they'll release an SDK for 3rd party developers.

  • Reply 7 of 47
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member

    Computerized maps... as mentioned many times on this forum, the update of information takes constant vigilance/validation etc... world wide yet. Boggles my mind (not hard to do). Thinking about Mavericks/iOS and how compartmentalized the updates are. That takes high level system thinking and focused execution. Sounds like Apple has come up with a 'system' for updating etc that is greatly simplified but more powerful. Core issue remains, getting the updates in- Crowd sourcing? Detailed satellite data perhaps? Read somewhere that there is a company offering up to date world wide images. If you tie that in with side views to see business names etc?? Ouch... my head hurts thinking about this.

  • Reply 8 of 47
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    No sign of coming, and at this point the only way I see is if they integrate with iCloud website.

    mjtomlin wrote: »
    maps.icloud.com would be more like it.

    I'm willing to bet iCloud will not only gain maps support, but eventually iMessage and Spotlight search as well. <span style="line-height:1.4em;">While many iHaters continue to beat the walled-garden drum, Apple is quietly building a web based application platform in iCloud that will surpass Google's Chrome initiative. </span>
    Once they get the APIs refined and set in stone, they'll release an SDK<span style="line-height:22px;"> for 3rd party developers.</span>

    1) I have no problem with it being maps.cloud.com but I would like the maps access to not require a login. Note that if you are using a Mac or iOS-based device and send a Map link to someone it starts off as maps.apple.com?x=blahblah&y=yadayadaz=etc. However it's opened anywhere but on an Apple device that maps.apple.com link with then swap out the domain info for maps.google.com.

    2) They already offer some mapping on icloud.com for the archaically named Find My iPhone section.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member

    Micro Mapping will become important.   Right now mapping is pretty much at street level scale (Google's Cars driving around on roads).

     

    Apple is trying to get down to the foot traffic level, and provide 3D level mapping of buildings.   Apple can map malls and office buildings, determine elevators, escalators, stairs, and upload these to the mother DB ("I want to meet with my Tom Smith, my broker"  Siri:"It looks like you can drive  and park and then walk in 10 minutes or take public transportation and then walk there in 15 minutes","Let's take the bus,","Okay,  Walk to X Street and Y ave.  Catch the 14B at 3:30pm at X Street and Y Ave, ride it for 10Minutes and get off at Zstreet and 1stAve, Walk west 2 blocks, enter the ABC building, go to the elevators to your left, to the 20th floor, get off and turn left, and in 75' enter the door on the right, suite 2020".)

     

    I can see Healthkit exploiting accurate walking/jogging/biking maps, and exploiting crowdsourcing to populate them ("This person is walking, appears this is a viable path...  This person is biking... most bikes appear to take this path, we should recommend this route)

     

    Even Homekit has mapping needs. 

  • Reply 10 of 47
    vl-tonevl-tone Posts: 337member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

     

    Micro Mapping will become important.   Right now mapping is pretty much at street level scale (Google's Cars driving around on roads).

     

    Apple is trying to get down to the foot traffic level, and provide 3D level mapping of buildings.   Apple can map malls and office buildings, determine elevators, escalators, stairs, and upload these to the mother DB ("I want to meet with my Tom Smith, my broker"  Siri:"It looks like you can drive  and park and then walk in 10 minutes or take public transportation and then walk there in 15 minutes","Let's take the bus,","Okay,  Walk to X Street and Y ave.  Catch the 14B at 3:30pm at X Street and Y Ave, ride it for 10Minutes and get off at Zstreet and 1stAve, Walk west 2 blocks, enter the ABC building, go to the elevators to your left, to the 20th floor, get off and turn left, and in 75' enter the door on the right, suite 2020".)

     

    I can see Healthkit exploiting accurate walking/jogging/biking maps, and exploiting crowdsourcing to populate them ("This person is walking, appears this is a viable path...  This person is biking... most bikes appear to take this path, we should recommend this route)

     

    Even Homekit has mapping needs. 


     

    Indeed, iOS 8 location services data can now include a floor number.

  • Reply 11 of 47
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    maps.apple.com please.

     

    Totally.

     

    I still think that they aren't updating their maps fast enough (don't flame me!!!). My reference point remains Kyoto, a huge city. And after all these years, satellite images for that city still look terrible. It's true that maps was bad for a long time and I definitely can remember a moment from where their maps became much better, probably once a workflow was put in place to allow better customer suggestion management. I hope Apple maps will go the same route.

     

    Also, streetview please. Apple's got the 3D models of the cities,  add high-res images for ground level that appear when zooming close enough and it's done !

  • Reply 12 of 47
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

     

     

    maps.icloud.com would be more like it.

     

    I'm willing to bet iCloud will not only gain maps support, but eventually iMessage and Spotlight search as well. While many iHaters continue to beat the walled-garden drum, Apple is quietly building a web based application platform in iCloud that will surpass Google's Chrome initiative. Once they get the APIs refined and set in stone, they'll release an SDK for 3rd party developers.


     

    No, it's going to be maps.apple.com if they do it. Shared adresses already use that URL.

  • Reply 13 of 47
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,748member



    iTunes Radio also needs to be accessible from a browser.

  • Reply 14 of 47
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    clemynx wrote: »
    Totally.

    I still think that they aren't updating their maps fast enough (don't flame me!!!). My reference point remains Kyoto, a huge city. And after all these years, satellite images for that city still look terrible. It's true that maps was bad for a long time and I definitely can remember a moment from where their maps became much better, probably once a workflow was put in place to allow better customer suggestion management. I hope Apple maps will go the same route.

    Also, streetview please. Apple's got the 3D models of the cities,  add high-res images for ground level that appear when zooming close enough and it's done !

    1) Of the half-dozen or so errors I've reported I don't think any of them have been fixed. I've certainly not gotten any feedback from Apple as I recall being reported as option for some.

    2) I needed to use StreetView just the other day. I don't use it much but when I do I have to pop into Google for that and I hate their new web interface for Google Maps.

    3) Apple made a big deal about FlyOver but the number of cities that are listed as FlyOver accessible is still very small after 2 years, which only includes when it was available in an iOS beta, not when the company they bought was using this tech. Objectively, if this was Google, Samsung, MS, anyone else I think we'd call it gimmicky and weak.
  • Reply 15 of 47
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    mike1 wrote: »

    iTunes Radio also needs to be accessible from a browser.

    I would say that iTunes Match needs to be accessible from iCloud. Apple wants to detach the Mac/WinPC as the "digital hub" but I still can't do much on an iOS-based device when it comes to my media library. I'd like an Apple Home Server and to be able to access my iTunes Library as setup with iTunes Match iTunes Radio, iTunes Store, and iBookstore via icloud.com.
  • Reply 16 of 47
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,477member
    I use Apple maps whenever I can, because I hate the Google hegemony. Apple was letter perfect navigating New Zealand by rental car last year. But this year in Japan Apple was worthless to me navigating public transportation. Google Maps was a godsend in getting from place to place by train. Apple can't fix this omission soon enough.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    constable odoconstable odo Posts: 1,041member

    I like that term of "overhauling the backend."  That's awesome ghettospeak.

     

    I'd like to know when Apple is going to get a street view for Maps.  Google has it and Bing has it.  Apple can afford a fleet of vehicles and footsoldiers to create their own.  Using street view is so much fun for exploring.  It's possible not everyone cares about having street view, but I I find it very useful to check out when I need to go somewhere and get familiar with the area.  One would think any top mapping app would have to have street view.  Google even has underwater "street view" so they're definitely not messing around when it comes to mapping.  I know Apple has a really late start and would have to work double time to catch up.  That's OK.  Just as long as they're doing something to steadily improve Maps.  Rome wasn't built in a day or so they say.

  • Reply 18 of 47
    clemynx wrote: »
    I still think that they aren't updating their maps fast enough (don't flame me!!!). My reference point remains Kyoto, a huge city. And after all these years, satellite images for that city still look terrible. It's true that maps was bad for a long time and I definitely can remember a moment from where their maps became much better, probably once a workflow was put in place to allow better customer suggestion management. I hope Apple maps will go the same route.

    Also, streetview please. Apple's got the 3D models of the cities,  add high-res images for ground level that appear when zooming close enough and it's done !

    We all have positive and negative stories about Maps. I'm glad to hear that Apple is moving in the right direction because of course Maps is never done. Even if Maps had a perfectly accurate POI database when it launched, the world is in constant change, and GIS data, POI databases, and satellite imagery has to be updated continuously (and regularly). Apple can continue to work on novel features (like 3D Flyover), but like the release of iMovie 11, or the launch of FCPX, the initial version of (Apple's internally sourced) Maps was underwhelming and missing features from the previous version--in the case of Maps, a loss of mass transit routes, stops & schedules, for example. But I'm bullish on Map's future because Apple is pretty good at quietly improving the products that launch poorly. Even MobileMe got pretty solid before it was rebooted as iCloud, and lost a bunch of features that iCloud only recently brought back.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    I'd like to know when Apple is going to get a street view for Maps.

    Interested in making a difference?
    http://www.apple.com/feedback/maps_mac.html
  • Reply 20 of 47
    mike1 wrote: »

    iTunes Radio also needs to be accessible from a browser.

    Maybe mention it here:
    http://www.apple.com/feedback/icloud.html
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