iOS 8: Soon, Apple Maps Will Be Able to Take the Bus

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Sources who spoke to 9to5Mac have said that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is adding the capability to use public transportation to Apple Maps with the iOS 8 update coming later this year. The lack of public transportation in Apple’s mapping software has been one of the biggest — though far from the only — complaint about the native iOS app that has been notorious for getting users lost and generally being less reliable than Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) competing maps app.

Apple has been hard at work on the app since its botched roll-out back in 2012 that resulted in CEO Tim Cook issuing a public apology and firing the former iOS head Steve Forstall, according to¬†AppleInsider. Software and services head Eddy Cue was given the job of fixing the software and has made some significant improvements, but many Apple users still defect and download Google Maps to get where they’re going.

Google Maps currently offers a reliable way to navigate to your destination using subways, trains, and buses. 9to5Mac previously reported that Apple would add the same function to Apple Maps with the iOS 8 roll out, and now those same anonymous sources have confirmed that Apple is on track with the project. The service will be launched first in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York and will later be expanded to the entire country.

Apple has made several map-related acquisitions in the past year, showing that the company is taking the improvement of its map app seriously. At the end of last year, Apple revealed that its acquisitions for 2013 included location data company Locationary, mapping firm BroadMap, mass transit navigation app company HopStop, and transit system app company Embark. All of these acquisitions have gone into updating Apple Maps and building the app’s public transportation capabilities.

9to5Mac’s sources also outlined more specifically how the app will work. Transit will be offered as an option alongside walking and driving in the directions view, and users will be able to choose their preferred method of public transportation. The mapping view will show airports, bus stops, and train stations. There will be an option to set the travel time as either as soon as possible or a time in the future to help plan out when you should catch that bus or subway. Transit mode can be set as the default method of transportation so that frequent bus or train riders can find their directions quickly.

Even with all these changes, it’s still questionable whether users can be convinced that Apple Maps is reliable given the app’s terrible reputation, especially when Google Maps can be downloaded for free. Data released by Comscore last fall showed that between September 2012 when Apple Maps was launched and September 2013 Apple Maps had gained 35 million users while Google Maps lost 23 million mobile users. Since Apple Maps comes standard on the iPhone, if Apple can bring it up to Google’s level, then perhaps people will be more willing to use the native app rather than take up space on their device by downloading Google Maps.

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