A big update to Apple Maps is rolling out today across all Apple devices, enabling richer navigation, new 3D building models and Apple’s “street view” competitor Look Around right across Australia.
More than two years after we spotted Apple Maps cars driving the streets of Australia, which at the time was just 6 months after the “Look around” feature had been announced as part of iOS 13, the street level photography and data is finally ready to be included for Australians.
Hundreds of thousands of kilometres driven and now every front yard, every main street and every highway and backroad in Australia will be featured on Apple devices within Apple Maps.
Of course, privacy is important and both learning from Google’s experience and staying true to the company’s core end user Privacy values, Apple developed advanced blurring technology for this very purpose, as Apple’s David Dorn explained exclusively to EFTM “we have a blurring technology that we have created that we think is really, really cure. And so as you go through the product, you’ll see that it is not something that you can kind of see through. And it’s like, oh, well, I can actually see what that is.”
David Dorn leads the product team for Apple Maps and told EFTM the two years since the cars were on the road were not all driving, nor were they all the implementation, he says “there’s a lot of driving, right? You have to actually drive all the roads. And we also have people who are walking around with backpacks, so we’re representing areas where cars can’t go. So it’s a combination of where we can drive and where people can walk around. And we capture a great deal of information. Then it’s turned over to all of our engineers and then they process all that imagery and they put a it together in a way that can then be represented for the end user in a very smooth, seamless way.”
If you were hoping to feature in your own home on Look Around, maybe out doing the lawns, Dorn says “We finished our drive in Australia, but as you, you know, one of the most complicated things I’m sure about making a map is that the world changes – it’s constantly in flux. So we will have our cars out there again, they will be driving periodically because we gotta make sure we capture anything that is new, or that is changed on a road network. We don’t have an idea right now of exactly when we’ll have the cars back on the road in Australia, but you can count on the fact that we’ll be out there on a regular basis, making sure we’ve got everything up to date as as much as possible”
In addition to Look Around, a huge level of detail is going into just the basic map. For example, almost every building in the country is represented by a 3D shape, based on data from both the Look Around cars as well as Aerial imaging and mapping.
But on top of all that, are 45 stunningly detailed 3D models created by hand for Apple Maps. And if you’re wondering how long it takes to make such a model – I was too, so I asked David Dorn; “I can’t tell you that one takes five days and another takes 30 days. I actually don’t know the amount of time, but it is all hand built. The part I can tell you is that these are all hand drawn models. So it’s, it is not something that happens in a matter of hours. This takes somebody’s time to represent that model as accurately and as beautifully as we do”
As well as a visually more stunning map, including details like fairways on golf courses, or even line markings on roads in the city – you’ll also get a new navigation experience. This includes speed zone information showing the current speed limit, and a natural language guidance. No more “turn right in 500meters”, instead where available you’ll get “turn right at the next traffic lights” or “at the next stop sign”. Making it more like someone in the passenger seat might say.
There’s actually a whole heap more to this, which we’ll look at on our Social Media over the days and weeks ahead, so follow me on TikTok for those little tips and tricks.
Early in 2022 Apple Maps users on iPhone will be able to get step by step augmented reality walking instructions in Sydney and Melbourne. This is similar to Google’s AR walking, using your phone to “scan” the area around you, matching that with Apple Maps data to pinpoint your location and help guide you with big arrows on the screen of your phone. Looks impressive.
The maps rollout is happening across the day today, so check your maps to see if you’ve got the new features!