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Apple Brings Public Transit, New Search Capabilities To Maps
New local search feature makes Apple Maps an alternative to Google on the go.
As anticipated, at its WWDC conference today, Apple introduced public transit routing as part of iOS 9 Apple Maps upgrades. It also introduced new local search capabilities, which are part of a broader search initiative that we discuss separately.
The company did not announce anything new regarding indoor mapping however. Enhanced indoor location capabilities and content were among the rumored upgrades to Apple Maps.
Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi began his discussion of the new mapping features with two stats:
- 5 billion map user requests per week
- Apple Maps is used 3.5X more than the “next most-used mapping app” (which is Google)
He then introduced public transit information, which can be accessed manually and via Siri query. Google of course has had this information in its mapping product for several years.
Initially public transit information in Apple Maps will only be available for 10 cities outside of China.
By comparison Apple is providing public transit information for more than 300 Chinese cities, reflecting the new importance of that market to Apple. It’s not clear which third party in China is providing the transit information.
While public transit information has been expected for many months, what was less expected was a new set of local search capabilities in Apple Maps.
Users can now search or browse for nearby businesses by name or category. Business profile pages also feature information on whether Apple Pay is accepted at the business, an interesting additional way to build awareness and promote Apple Pay.
We’ve not had an opportunity to test out the new capability. But if it is halfway decent it presents a new local search alternative to Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and others.