Apple Maps to Get Development Office in India for Maps Expansion

The new India office will focus on Apple Maps upgrades and improvements for iOS users as Apple continues to announce India initiatives.

Apple Maps, maps, Apple, iOS, India, apps developers

The ongoing development behind Apple Maps services for iOS users will be getting a boost from a new Maps development office being created by the company in Hyderabad, India.

The office, which will focus on Apple Maps for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch products, was announced by the company on May 19 during a visit to India by CEO Tim Cook. The office is expected to create about 4,000 new jobs for developers and support staff. The office will be located in the LEED-certified WaveRock office building, which is in a special economic zone in the city.

Apple Maps has been a continually developing project within Apple since the company dropped Google Maps from its iOS operating system as of September 2012 in iOS 6. 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.

Apple began adding real-time transit map directions starting with iOS 9, and those features are still appearing. Apple was behind Google Maps in offering such services for several years.

Apple's 2012 replacement of Google Maps with Apple Maps at the time brought 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. Cook even responded back then with a five-paragraph public apology about the problems with the then-new service. He 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.

The new Maps office in India aims to help the company continue to move forward with additional development and improvements for Maps users. No additional details were released about when the office will open, and Apple did not immediately respond to an inquiry from eWEEK.

"Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development," Cook said in a statement. "The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations."

The Maps office announcement came just a day after Apple unveiled plans to create a new iOS app Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru, India, to help iOS developers there gain more services and resources for their work in one of the world's largest and still-developing markets. That accelerator is being envisioned to provide specialized support to tens of thousands of iOS developers who are working in India building apps for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

The facility in Bengaluru, the home of India's startup scene, will provide assistance and expertise on best practices, skills training and design, quality and performance improvements for their iOS apps. Briefings on iOS topics and development will be a regular staple at the center, as well as one-on-one app reviews for developers by iOS experts. The iOS App Design and Development Accelerator is expected to open in early 2017.

India is an increasingly important market for Apple as the company seeks to grow its revenue and profits in a global smartphone market that is nearing saturation in many developed nations. Apple hopes to find new market gains in India to make up for sales and revenue slides in China, the United States and elsewhere around the globe.

The accelerator's coming creation was announced hours after Cook arrived in India on his first official visit to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other government officials there.

More than 100 million smartphones were sold in India in 2015, with growth of another 25 percent predicted for 2016. India is in the world's third-largest smartphone market, but so far Apple only has a 2 percent market share there, due mostly to the high cost of the company's phones in a country where incomes are much lower than in Apple's typical big markets.