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Apple Aims to One-Up Google With Huge Apple Maps Improvements

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After an embarrassing start, Apple Maps has steadily gotten better. But there are even more improvements coming in iOS 8.

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It was arguably the most embarrassing launch for an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) product in recent memory.

In its daring attempt to go head-to-head with one of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) most advanced and polished services, Apple replaced the Google Maps app on iOS devices with its half-baked Maps app. But rather than besting Google and revolutionizing the mobile-navigation experience, Maps greeted users with missing cities, 3D bridges that rippled like water, and directions that nearly killed people. Even the app icon itself would lead to certain doom if followed to the letter. (See: Apple Maps Will Kill You if Followed Literally)

But after an apology from CEO Tim Cook, the public ousting of senior execs responsible for the fiasco, and the much-welcomed return of Google Maps, Apple has steadily been improving its Maps experience. While Google is still the king of mobile maps and turn-by-turn navigation, Apple's offerings have grown to be viable, if not decent, alternative.

And it only aims to get better come the next version of iOS 8.

According to a recent report by 9to5Mac, Maps is undergoing a wealth of improvements in anticipation of an iOS 8 overhaul. Although the app won't see much in the way of UI changes, the service is reportedly receiving "under-the-hood" enhancements to its accuracy and reliability. And given its history, it could always use that.

Using new data from Apple's recent acquisitions from map services such as BroadMap, Embark, and HopStop, Maps will gain new points of interest and "new labels to make places such as airports, parks, train stations, bus stops, highways, and freeways easier to find," according to 9to5Mac's sources.

But perhaps the most wanted feature among users will finally make its way in the next full version: transit directions. Thanks to HopStop's comprehensive bus, train, and subway information now in Apple's grasp, Maps should finally supply adequate directions to travelers without cars. Sources expect the feature to be immediately available to New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco residents with an expansion to more US cities in time for its public launch.

So hang tight, loyal Maps users. It may be a while until the app is fully on par with Google Maps, but with the upcoming improvements, the difference might soon be negligible.

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