Apple Maps. For years now, its reputation has been that of a punchline. Although Apple and Google battle for supremacy in most hardware and software categories, in the map game there's no question who has the superior app. But the news of the day shows Apple expanding the cities it plans on collecting street data from, opening up speculation that they're not ready to throw in the towel on Apple Maps.
The Apple Maps vehicles web page details every city and county Apple will be driving through soon, collecting data for no specified purpose other than "Apple is driving vehicles around the world to collect data which will be used to improve Apple Maps. Some of this data will be published in future Apple Maps updates."
In classic Apple fashion, this information sounds exciting, but it's also not very useful. But it does raise a lot of questions. Why is Apple taking its data-collection fleet to seven U.S. states and three other countries? For what, a joy ride? That's a lot of time and a lot of miles — and if they're using Apple Maps to get around — who knows how long it'll take to complete those trips. Thankfully, there are clues as to their plans.
One major stop for Apple's vehicles this Summer will be New York City. The four boroughs that matter, and then the weird one. You know which one I'm talking about.
Apple will start in The Bronx and Queens April 24 – May 7, and will expand through the rest of the boroughs during its other test periods, May 8 – 21, and May 22 – June 4. This move is important. Street View is a killer app in NYC for tourists and locals alike. Apple is spending too much time in the city to just be passing through. They must be planning something with this much of a time investment in New York, and Streetview would make a lot of sense as the thing they're developing.
Then again, would all this effort even matter? Sure, Apple could be on a level playing field to Google Maps. Who knows, they could even outdo them. But even if Apple Maps was fixed, and turned into the best maps app available to the public, would it ever be able to shake the reputation against it? I'm not too sure. Apple has had its moments over Google Maps, just as Google Maps has had its own shortcomings. But no one jokes about how broken Google Maps is. We all remember Apple's epic map failure. It's too engrained in our tech culture, and I wonder if that will always follow Apple, no matter what they do with the app.