Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) received some of the highest levels of criticism to its new maps app, first launched last September, in its rapidly growing market of Japan. And it appears the company has chosen the country to launch the first of its big improvements to its native navigation program. On Wednesday, Apple released the first beta version of its operating system iOS 6.1.1 in Japan with a host of changes to the maps application.
In a note to developers accompanying the Japan release, Apple said the iOS 6.1.1 beta 1 included improved pronunciation of roads, optimized directions to more strongly prefer highways over narrower roads, indications for upcoming toll roads, added labels for junctions, interchanges, and intersections, and added indicators for transit station buildings, subway lines, and traffic lights. It also announced that all freeways would now be in the color green and also updated icons for location categories, including fire stations, hospitals, and post offices.
During the worldwide public release of the iOS 6.1 version of its mobile operating system last month, Apple had also announced a new Search API that would allow developers to query its maps servers to receive point-of-interest and location data.