Apple is finally going to include transit directions and maps in its upcoming version of iOS9, but only as few as six cities may be featured in the first offering, according to reports.
The new iOS 9 operating system is slated for release in June, but when it comes out, the only transit directions that will be included are for New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Paris and Berlin, the reports state. Some cities in China could also be included when iOS9 is released.
Apple has been lagging behind when it comes to mass transit directions in its Apple Maps app for almost three years. Google has been offering transit directions for Android users in that time and formerly provided such information to Apple iPhone and iPad users until Apple replaced Google Maps with its own new Apple Maps app in September 2012 as part of the then-new iOS 6, according to earlier eWEEK reports. Google Maps had been included in every previous version of iOS since the arrival of the iPhone in 2007. Apple removed Google Maps after a five-year agreement with Google expired.
But with the launch of Apple Maps at that time came a tidal wave of complaints from frustrated Apple users. Among the loudest complaints were incorrect maps, the new app's inability to display points of interest and a total lack of transit directions for mass transit systems in large cities. Apple CEO Tim Cook even followed a week of user complaints with a five-paragraph public apology about the problems with the then-new service. Cook even pointed out several mapping alternatives that Apple users could install to regain the mapping functions they had when Google Maps was part of the previous versions of iOS.
Apple said at the time that it would be adding transit maps later, but the three-year mark will arrive in September and they are still not here.
One theory for Apple moving to create its own maps app back then was that Apple wanted to include voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions, which was lacking in the previous Google Maps version for iOS, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Others said the change was due to a growing competitive friction between Apple and Google as they began battling more directly in the mobile marketplace.
For iOS users, especially those who live in large cities and would benefit from integrated mass transit directions and maps, the missing Apple Maps transit directions are likely to remain a sticking point.
The reported inclusion of transit directions for six cities is certainly a start, but it is a very small move forward for iOS users overall.
The new Apple Maps app is likely to be unveiled at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) when it begins on June 8.