Busting the iOS 6 Transit Map Myths

There’s a ridiculous amount of misinformation spreading online about the new maps in iOS 6, compounded by incorrect press reports, vague statements by Apple, and the developer NDAs. I’m even guilty of spreading it myself, based on reports I’d seen on the blogs.

Using information provided to me by an anonymous Apple developer, I’ve pieced together the facts. Keep in mind that iOS 6 is still prerelease beta, and Apple may change anything at any point. Everything below is based entirely on the existing beta software and documentation that Apple’s provided to developers.

Were walking directions removed in iOS 6? Some press reports have stated that walking directions are removed from iOS 6. This is completely false, and walking directions are still in iOS 6. Here’s a screenshot of walking directions in iOS 6, courtesy of Philip Bump.

Were biking directions removed? Bike directions have never been available on the iPhone, and still won’t be in iOS 6.

Were public transit directions removed? As of this beta, inline public transit directions are gone from the Maps application in iOS 6. Clicking the public transit button will display a list of third-party apps that support routing in the defined map area, and will launch the app when clicked. Here’s the current screen in the beta, with no apps registered.

By release, this blank screen will be populated with a default list of appropriate apps from the App Store. The documentation states, “If the user’s device does not currently contain any routing apps, Maps refers the user to apps on the App Store that do.”

What about the new Transit APIs? The new Transit APIs, referred to by Scott Forstall at 108:58 in Monday’s keynote, allow developers to register their app as a directions provider for routing directions for a particular set of coordinates. It will then be displayed in the list of available third-party apps for transit. Clicking a transit app launches that app, passing the start and end values to the app. Contrary to other analysis, transit routes can’t be displayed inline from the Maps app.

How do the Transit APIs work? Apps can enable directions support by setting the type of directions they support, a geoJSON file specifying the map regions they support, and uploading it to iTunes Connect. Developers can specify a category (Car, Bus, Train, Subway, Streetcar, Plane, Bike, Ferry, Taxi, Pedestrian, Other).

Directions requests from Maps are handled by a special URL. From the documentation: “When the user asks the Maps app for directions and chooses your app, Maps creates a URL with the start and end points and asks your app to open it.” From there, the app can “compute and display the route using your custom routing technology.”

Of course, any of this may change before release. But, for the moment, the APIs simply don’t support inline transit routes from within the Maps app.

Are Street View photos removed? Yes, these were also provided by Google.

Why is Apple doing this? Do they hate public transit?! Of course not. Transit directions aren’t in iOS 6 because Apple replaced Google’s maps with their own solution, which didn’t include access to transit data. Maintaining transit feeds and keeping it up-to-date for hundreds of cities was presumably too difficult to attempt for this first release, so they decided to outsource it to third-party apps.

Is Google going to release a Maps app for iOS? We don’t know. Google hasn’t announced any plans for a native Google Maps for iPhone. And there’s a big unknown: if they developed it, would Apple approve it?

Hope that helps. Hit me up with any more questions, or if you have internal information, I’ll happily honor your anonymity.

90 thoughts on “Busting the iOS 6 Transit Map Myths

  1. I’m surprised to see transit directions moved out of the Maps app. I’m all for Apple supporting developers, but the all-in-one is really nice when I go to a new city. I’m surprised because the GTFS format (created by Google) used by transit agencies is totally open. Anyone can download the schedules and from them create transit directions. So, why Apple wouldn’t want to take this on when they’ve gone further rolling their own maps is confusing. As you say, this is a beta release, so perhaps the full story is yet to be told.

  2. This is a really tacky solution, and totally unacceptable especially considering Apple’s “it just works” mentality.

    I just moved back to Los Angeles, and unlike San Francisco, there aren’t a dozen apps for MUNI, another dozen for BART, and another half-dozen that do both. Here, there are several transit agencies with overlapping territory: Metro, Big Blue Bus, Metrolink, DASH, CulverCityBus, and a whole lot more that cover the outer suburbs… and depending on where I’m going and what time it is, it’s not uncommon to transfer between agencies. I’ve even taken an Amtrak from Downtown to Van Nuys before just because Google showed it was by far the quickest route (and only like six bucks). Sure, some of the specialized apps give you real-time arrival data (MUNI in San Francisco and TriMet in Portland have this and it’s great), but that’s more useful when I already know what bus I’m taking… more often I just need to know what bus or train to get on and where it picks me up and drops me off, and for the most part the schedule is relatively accurate. (I’ve never missed a connection because it was *early* anyway)

    I hope this changes. I won’t be going to Android over this (I still love my iPhone), but I at least hope Apple allows you to set Google Maps as the default mapping app until they get their act together with transit, which is far more important than 3D buildings.

  3. Just what i need, a lousy app from every city I visit.

    No matter how it’s spun, this seems like a half-baked solution and a big step backwards.

    Hopefully Google releases google maps with a geoJSON file covering the entire world.

  4. I’m totally confused now. Grist is reporting that transit will support in-line transit.

    “…instead of forcing apps to either (a) use their own mapping system, as apps like HopStop currently do, or (b) rely on the Maps app to determine the route, an API would let external apps display routes they determine ***directly in the Maps app.*** I spoke with an Apple developer who attended the iOS 6 announcement; the developer indicated that an API-based system for routing was understood to be the case.”

    http://grist.org/news/why-the-rumors-about-the-iphone-ditching-walking-public-transit-are-wrong/

  5. Not having transit directions in iOS 6 Maps is a terrible decision. I’ll just end up downloading Google Maps once it hits the App Store.

  6. You can still access (and save to your Home Screen) a link to https://maps.google.com/

    Native apps often have advantages over web apps and are generally a pleasure to use but in this particular case Maps didn’t work offline anyway, so you still have mobile Safari and Google Maps via the web. Bike directions can be accessed that way as well.

  7. If I know Apple I’d say this is a stop gap measure until they get public transit implemented to their standards. They’re taking on a lot, and google got a 7 yr head start. Also remember this is Beta. Wait to judge the final release. I can’t imagine this won’t be updated in the future.

  8. @ktur: Unless he’s heard something contrary from a developer, I’m 99% sure he’s misreading the documentation. Transit directions won’t be provided from within the Maps app; you’ll be required to launch a third-party app.

  9. @ktur: Yeah, he’s wrong.

    You can have maps route the user between two points (by handing off two points to the maps app), or the maps app can send two points to your transit app, and you use some other resource at your disposal to provide routing across the local transportation agencies.

  10. This is shit. Apple just keeps making downgrades because of their petty war with google. If I wanted a “dumbphone” that can only play shitty games and call people, Ill save my money and get a feature phone. Or a more smarter move: go get an Android phone. Google doesn’t put their own personal interests ahead of the costumer and fuck them over. If you guys love apple so much, wanna buy an iMac and iPhone? I don’t need this junk anymore.

  11. Trust your assessment of this, though I spoke with at least one person who suggested that it would be as I described at Grist. I’ve added your notes to my piece.

    Thanks.

  12. You should also look a little bit beyond the edge of your own table. There are countries around the world where transit never really worked good or at all. Here in germany the Deutsche Bahn has a tight grip on network data and schedules. So opening the API to 3rd parties makes a lot of sense outside of the US where even google can’t provide all the data.

  13. What people don’t realize is that if they don’t like the new iOS 6 maps, just go open Safari, type in google.com, click on Maps and boom – you just got what was taken away from you (walking/transit directions). How hard was that?

  14. just go open Safari, type in google.com, click on Maps and boom – you just got what was taken away from you (walking/transit directions). How hard was that?

    Actually, that doesn’t bring back Street View, but thanks.

  15. Transit directions in Google maps via Safari do not work nearly as well as they do in the native app. They are slower, do not offer the same ease of checking multiple routes/times, and the darn thing refreshes at unexpected times. It also always defaults back to auto directions. It’s frustrating when a supposed upgrade actually removes functionality you rely on.

  16. It’s unclear from the documentation how “this blank screen will be populated with a default list of appropriate apps from the App Store.” will exactly be determined. Certainly, the geo in the JSON will help narrow it down so yours only shows if it’s relevant (e.g., German transit in Germany) but how will it be ranked? Metropolitan areas with many supporting apps such as the Bay Area or NYC will be inundated.

    Also, it’s worth mentioning “Transit” isn’t quite accurate since their goal is that you can use this view to provide any directions, including alternate walking, hiking, biking, or anything else. From the docs:

    “Routing apps can also include apps that provide directions for the user’s favorite bicycle or hiking trail, for air routes, and for subway or other public transportation lines.”

    Which means it’ll further be polluted with many different choices. An “air routes” app would apply to almost any geography but is almost never the one most will care about.

  17. Curious why apple never approved a Maps update from Google that would have included biking directions.

    I presume this means they would not allow a bike-enabled Google Maps app now, either.

  18. Torsten, it is a bit patchy, but it does work fairly widely. I use it regularly at home in Perth Australia; it’s also been indespensible in Spain, Holland and London.

    I’m really hoping there’ll be a native Google Maps app, it’s more useful to me than the fly over feature and I’ve got another turn by turn app

  19. A friend who lives in Berlin told me they don’t have transit routing in Google Maps because “the Germans hate Google even more than they hate getting lost”.

  20. People keep pointing out that you can open Google Maps in Safari (or even better, the Google Search App). A fairly good comprise, you get bike/trail maps and Street View too.

    However, there are draw backs. The compass does not work, and there is a bit of lag time with real-time directions.

    Also, I suggest MapQuest for free voice turn-by-turn. Always a block behind, but pretty good for a free app.

    I hope Apple lets Google provide an app, if they wish, but they might not wish to, as it will give Android phones an advantage.

  21. “Maintaining transit feeds and keeping it up-to-date for hundreds of cities was presumably too difficult to attempt for this first release, so they decided to outsource it to third-party apps.”

    Google never did any of that! They (sensibly) had nothing to do with creating or maintaining the feeds – that was purely down to the transit agencies. (All Google did was create a standard way of providing the info)

  22. Honestly, I never have used the public transit option on the iPhone maps. I live in NY and before that, Boston; I have always outsourced public transit directions to more up to date applications. The MTA and HopStop have much more reliable up to the minute updates and alternate routes that I never trusted apple’s map program to provide.

  23. what folks will fail to realize its not to much the major cities that have Google Transit directions its the regular everyday cities like Buffalo or Cleveland that no one is tripping over themselves for to make a transit app. I could be wrong but I don’t like the idea of this.

  24. So, the US is going to get to the level that most of the world is on, regarding transit? Because, for instance, Mexico doesn’t get transit directions, just driving or walking.

    In other words…this is a US-only problem, which means it’s a minority of users that have it…so their solution is a smart one…why invest time and money on something only a minority will use?

  25. I can only imagine that this spectacularly bad idea from Apple has something to do with all its decision-makers living in California and driving everywhere. Otherwise, it is hard to imagine how they could be this foolish. It is not even slightly an exaggeration to say that this makes the Maps app useless to me. I cannot remember the last time I used it for anything except transit directions. And transit directions are probably the number one thing I use my phone for other than general web browsing. I certainly use it more than I use email, for example. This is just so clueless.

  26. @Vox – It’s not a U.S. only problem. Having just returned from Tokyo I can assure you that transit directions are available there as well, and I’ve seen information that it exists in countries in Europe and Canada too at the very least.

    You may be right that its a minority use feature, but you might not, there’s no data either way that you’ve provided to determine that.

    There are many many practical reasons why Apple might be choosing this approach, all defensible, but when it comes to end users, especially the less tech savvy, the result is going to be a lot of people asking a question “Why did this feature go away?”

  27. I live in Berlin, Germany’s capital and biggest city. At least for the last couple of years, Google Maps hasn’t had transit directions here at all – neither on the web nor on the iPhone. At least for us, the situation would improve if the existing public transportation iPhone app would integrate with the (new) maps app.

  28. @ JamesR624: It’s silly to characterize it as a downgrade; Google was preventing Apple from implementing turn-by-turn directions. So by ditching Google, users that wanted turn-by-turn have gotten a huge upgrade.

  29. Google Maps has transit directions, but they are a joke. Half the time, they only cover maybe a few bus lines in the city, and don’t account for trains, subway, etc. It’s a mess, and I bet it’s because the transit providers don’t give them access to schedules. If Google couldn’t get it, Apple won’t be able to either.

  30. The ‘transit app for every city’ notion is not entirely realistic. A large number of transit agencies are already providing their data in Google’s General Trasnit Feed Spec (GTFS) (See: gtfs-data-exchange.com/agencies for a list). Integrating those cities’ data into a third-party iOS 6 routing app should pose no major difficulties. I expect the niche developers will compete over to appear as a top-ranked routing app will have a lot less to do with geographic specialization and more to do with the quality of the app overall.

  31. Is Google going to allow links to maps.google.com in their search results launch Apple Maps?

  32. There is nothing smart about this, apple are about to release an inferior product, and directly harm the consumer because they are in a pissing match with google, a pissing match that has now lead them to decide that they con cobble together global cartography and smart local search in 36 months.

    they’re wrong on that. Apple’s innate IQ is visibly dropping by the minute. this is a manifestly stupid decision that will harm the iphone brand in the eyes of the iphone user. They won’t understand why maps got crap, dropped streetview and transit, and returned inferior local search results that rely on yelp.

    This is the beginning of a larger, stupider, mission drift apple, doing stupid microsoft style things. it’s sad to see.

  33. I don’t care about transit information (since I’m not in the US and where I live these never worked anyway), but without Street View I won’t update my iPhone to iOS 6 and I will switch to an Android phone later then.

    Maps on the iPhone is going to become what iCloud is to Google Apps. A half-hearted “solution” that has the main feature of not coming from Google and shortcomings everywhere else.

  34. A couple of points:

    * The current iOS Maps app is not made by Google. It’s made by Apple, with mapping data licensed from Google. Google prohibits Apple from implementing some features, such as nav.

    * It’s ridiculous to ascribe this to some conspiracy or dumbing-down on Apple’s part. Implementing transit directions for thousands of agencies is a HUGE job.

    If it’s possible to implement, I’m sure they will. For example, using Google’s format mentioned above–but note that even with the GTFS format, each transit agency can add additional licensing restrictions that require legal vetting, if not direct negotiations with some agencies. This will take a while.

    And due to licensing restrictions, they will never be able to implement it for all areas. For example, see comment about Germany above. Having a built-in link to an app that covers those areas makes sense anyway.

  35. The current version, where I live, is rubbish. It’d have me walking across “Pedestrians Prohibited” dual carriageways, changing trains to get on a different train that stops at the same stations as the one I’d be getting off, catching trains past the destination and then back again, all sorts- and no reference to bus routes at all. If it’s that junk for a densely-populated well-served public transport area, I’m not surprised it’s being dropped.

    For the same area, there are many multi-transit public transport apps and websites that work properly.

  36. Guys, we’re one week into public awareness of a product that isn’t going to be final for at least another two months (and, realistically, I’m thinking probably more like 3-4 months).

    A lot can change (and probably will). The author even points this out in the second paragraph.

    But, being the Internet, it’s “get pissy and indignant first, ask questions/await the outcome second”.

    Call me crazy, but I think it might a bit too early to be doing the full-tilt hand-wringing thing, and declaring things “failures”.

    A grip…get one.

  37. What a terrible decision this is.

    San Diego does NOT have an iOS transit routing application available. The closest things to it are several apps that claim to provide schedules (no routes), but don’t, since they haven’t been updated in over a year.

    MTS’s OWN application is a double joke, as it requires you to already know not just the stop, but the five-digit number assigned to it. Just to find out when the next bus will be there. Never mind routing.

    I use the Maps application every day, to determine a route number, to determine when I need to be out at the stop, to determine how to get from A to B.

  38. This is a complete FAIL.

    All those saying this is Apple “doing the smart thing” or some such are just being incredibly stupid.

    If the app sends the end user to a separate third party app, or worse, to the store *looking* for a separate third party app, it’s a fail. Period.

    If the end user needs to know how to use a third party app, download a third party app or integrate a third party app, why wouldn’t that user be an Android user already?

    The whole point of iOS versus Android is ease of use.

    The same thing applies to street view which is used a great deal by anyone who doesn’t have a car, and 60% of the world doesn’t drive a car.

    I have to echo the sentiments above in regards how this is just “car blinders” on Apple’s part. anyone who doesn’t drive a car can immediately see a big problem, anyone living in the USA who does drive a car can’t see any problem at all.

  39. I don’t understand you.

    In France, transit never was working in Maps. No information about subway, no traffic, no bus, nothing.

    I don’t see how you can think Apple has choice.

    Google is not allowing Apple to do the same work than on android.

    it’s over folks, Apple and Google are no more in partnership

    Nokia/Microsoft, Apple, Google and anyone wanting to create another platform HAVE to create their own mapping solution.

    no more sharing : these are business.

  40. “Is Google going to allow links to maps.google.com in their search results launch Apple Maps?

    yes.

    for what I see, ios6 will allow AT LAST, integration between Maps and RATP subway apps.

  41. If they develop it, Apple would almost have to approve it. But it does not matter, only a fraction of iOS users will download it (I will).

  42. One thing missing from this conversation is that Google’s transit data (speaking for the Bay Area where I live) is not very reliable in terms of accurate arrival times.

    Although a recent GMaps update claimed otherwise, the arrival times shown in iOS 5 Maps are more like the theoretical published timetable and less like actual live arrivals that track real buses, which are usually off-schedule.

    Google’s transit directions can be useful to plan a route and transfers between lines, but I always use the Nextbus mobile sire or a dedicated Muni or Bart app to track when a given bus or train will actually arrive. And even in terms of trip planning, a delay in one line may mean missing a transfer to another line, or a decision to choose one bus line instead of another, so even good transit trip planning is fairly dependent on having accurate arrival times.

    So from that point of view, I’d say Apple’s shifted emphasis on local transit apps more realistically reflects the way I use my iPhone with public transit.

    Having a Newsstand-like spotlight on transit apps should give a boost of exposure to those app developers, and incentivize the creation of new transit apps for smaller cities that don’t currently have good transit apps.

    I really hope (though I don’t yet see the evidence) that this approach will also lead to better bicycle trip planning on the iPhone, a place where iOS has been strangely, notably lacking, given that Google provides them.

    I’m not a developer, but it seems interesting to me that this approach seems to mirror the way Android allows/forces users to select between multiple applications that are capable of fulfilling a specific type of request.

  43. Apparently, it is hard to get this transit data. There are issues about who pays for it and how.

    About half my use of Maps is pedestrian, and about half is transit, so I am looking forward to downloading Google Maps for iOS and the Apple solution is of no interest to me at all. I need to be able to turn a walking route into transit and back on a whim because in San Francisco, you might walk a 2 mile route but then take a trolley for a half mile route because that half mile is an almost vertical hill. I’m sure there will be great 3rd party apps for San Francisco, but I have to admit, I am not interested. I’m a very, very satisfied Apple customer, but this is a fail.

  44. Here in Boston we have too many transit apps (there are over 50 listed here http://www.mbta.com/rider_tools/apps/), and they’re all awful. Some only do the bus lines, some do the commuter rail, some don’t include all the subway lines. Most don’t even do point-to-point routing; they just show the routes and you have to figure it out yourself.

    Google’s maps weren’t perfect, but at least they worked and could route me to my destination. And it was the same app for every city in the US, so that was a huge win when traveling.

    I guess Apple is just making this “a 3rd-party opportunity.”

  45. It all sounds a bit of a mess, but not because of the provider, just the implementation. Having 3rd party providers be able to provide transit data back to the maps app, essentially as plugins, sounds great. Using the maps app as a transit-apps launcher is clunky and nonsensical.

  46. I think everyone from the U.S needs to remember that the rest of the world exists. Sure, transit directions might be great there, but what about everyone else?

    Here in Australia, we have NEVER had transit directions in Google Maps. Promised for years, never happened. And I doubt happening any time in the near future. Opening up the API like this might mean we actually gain a feature we were never likely to have, as I’m sure is the case right round the world.

  47. There are a few Google Transit participating agencies in Australia (Sydney included), but it should be noted that it has always been open to any agency willing and able to publish their data.

  48. It’s always a bad thing when a vendor releases something with reduced functionality. Apple should have waited another year to do this.

  49. As a few others note, this whole discussion actually seems to apply to just a few of Apple’s markets. The US obviously, and I’m guessing Canada, but are there other countries where public transit data was available on the iPhone? Most (all?) of the rest of the world, which not to forget accounts for the majority of Apple’s sales these days, hasn’t had transit data at all on the iPhone, so this is not only status quo for us, but an upgrade. I automatically go to Maps for finding a location, and now I’ll be able to use far fewer clicks to launch the right app with instructions directly from there, *regardless* of country I am in. This is a huge plus for us Europeans, as how am I otherwise to know what the best app is for that data in for example Paris or Rome? Essentially, this is worse for the user in a few markets, but for all other markets represents an upgrade, and quite probably a significant upgrade. Who *wouldn’t* make that trade off, especially when the US is not exactly known for being a big public transport country to begin with, and I dare say, the iPhone weilding population even less so…

    And just to be clear, this transit data is also not available on regular Google Maps online using a good ol’ computer in a bunch of (most?) countries, including Norway for example. Dealing with authorities and prior rights in all these countries is not a simple affair.

  50. Here in Austria, we’ve always been in the transit maps ghetto. Maps on the iPhone doesn’t provide transit directions at all, but there is an app for that.

  51. There are actually two public-transit related things missing in iOS6 (at least here in NYC):

    1) the ability to plot a route and

    2) the location of subway stops on the map

    #1 is forgivable in a new system since it would require integration with dozens (or hundreds) of data sources which probably have unique ways of updating.

    #2, not so much. Subway stops here haven’t moved in a few decades, and Open Street Maps (the source of Apple’s new mapping data) has this licked already: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/WikiProject_Metro_systems

    Just add the data in Apple!

  52. The “Third Party App” that provides transit directions could simply be “Google Maps” you know. Or some app that serves as an intermediary to translate the call from iOS maps to Google’s web interface that will continue to provide the transit directions you know and enjoy.

    Sure, it would be nice if they add it natively, but the transit api is actually pretty nice because it lets you search using the app then pop over to any other app for directions or guidance. This will be very handy for those of us who prefer a 3rd party solution for navigation, etc. and also has the side effect of immediately making these apps kind of Siri-enabled.

    For instance:

    1) Activate Siri: “Give me directions to 1 Infinite Loop”

    2) Tap to get into iOS maps

    3) Tap to access the transit API screen

    4) Tap to launch Navigon or whatever

  53. Oslo has stops labeled in Maps, but no routing. We have a similarly hostile transit authority named Ruter/Trafikanten that seems to think that they should keep tight control over the data even though their apps are merely acceptable.

    If you look into the JSON API provided by Trafikanten, their ToS, API, and data quality make life pretty difficult for any potential innovation in this regard.

  54. On this Apple have put ego in front of consumer ability.

    In Brussels the existing solution worked beautifully. I had transit routes which worked perfectly, with metro, bus, tram all working together. In Strasbourg it worked beautifully. In London it worked too. In Switzerland they even have the trains working!

    Turn-by-turn is great, but WE DON’T ALL HAVE CARS!

    If they really wanted to be intelligent about it they could have launched this more modestly and said it was a beta, announced that they had handed over the existing app (Apple made, Google populated, essentially) to Google to continue as a downloadable app.

    A downgraded map experience is useless to many of us, as verified by a stream of comments, and a true disappointing. OH and I have yet to find a city in Europe with 3D so that was a hyped up announcement too!

  55. The more I read about, and see screenshots of maps in IOS 6, the more I am convinced that Apple is replacing stuff I find really useful with useless eye-candy analogous to “coverflow”. I’ll just have to wait and see, but after discounting all the Android BS about open vs closed,this could be the first real feature differentiation that pushes me to another platform.

  56. The issue is monetization. Nobody, including Google have monetized mapping—Apple makes its money on selling hardware and so a feature like mapping help it sell devices. Google looses money with ‘roid u less it can kick its Motorola purchase into gear and kick its “partners” in the teeth…

  57. I’m still having mixed feelings about the new Maps in general, but we also have to realize that we’re talking about beta *one* here, so it’s difficult to make any firm pronouncements on what will actually be integrated by the time the final version ships.

    That said, I can see some logic to Apple relying on third-party solutions for transit, as these actually have the potential to provide much more flexibility and support for markets where Google Transit is either completely unavailable or has been slow to become available.

    Toronto, Canada is a classic example of this, in fact. Due to whatever political machinations were going on between the City of Toronto and Google over the years, it took until 2011 before Google Transit finally became available here. However, as far back as 2008 when the App Store first debuted, several enterprising iOS developers had built their own solutions for providing Toronto transit directions, and at least one very popular web site predates even that (this was, I believe, where most of the iOS developers were getting their data from, to be fair).

    So to put that in perspective… The pre-iOS 6 Google Maps solution left Torontonians stuck without integrated transit directions for years after third-party apps were already available to do this, since we were forced to rely on the City of Toronto and Google getting their act together to provide the data rather than being able to leverage the clever efforts of individual developers who had easily found other ways to mine and aggregate the necessary data.

  58. I think Apple’s going the right way on this, at least in the short term. Taking on the provision of transit data early on is a recipe for disaster, especially since it’s a tall order just to get maps right.

    Working with the huge zoo of transit agencies, each with their own homemade license on the use of their data, is enough to give the Apple lawyers fits. Case in point: the amount of noise coming Apple’s way over Routesy vs. NBIS in 2009.

    Here’s a recap of what I think Apple would like to avoid running into again a few weeks after the launch of iOS6:

    http://venturebeat.com/2009/06/27/apple-kills-routesy-app-my-iphone-gets-less-useful/

  59. To those who claim that this only affects the U.S.:

    I’m currently traveling around China, and transit routing works nearly everywhere (in cities, at least). Today I’m in Zigong, Sichuan Province, and just a few minutes ago used the Maps app, which told me to take the #2 bus and get off at 东方广场 to get to my destination (and I did and it did!).

    I can’t imagine arriving in a new town and having to download a new app before I can get anywhere, especially in areas with only GPRS connectivity.

  60. Yet another datapoint:

    Vast parts of Europe like Germany, France and (to the best of my knowledge) Austria never had _any_ public transport support.

    In other parts it always differed wildly: while London (AFAIK even _that_ took quite a while) is fully supported, Liverpool or Dublin aren’t at all and while you can get routes between cities in the Netherlands, bus and tram lines are unavailable even in their capital Amsterdam.

    Insofar I’d call this a vast improvement for a lot of people—France and Germany alone have almost 150 million inhabitants, the UK and Ireland combined (without the London metropolitan area) would add another 50 million to that.

    As to how stuff is going to be ordered in the list:

    If you watched the keynote, you know that apps you already have installed go first. Then comes the AppStore listing, sorted by rating IIRC.

    WRT to turn by turn navigation, somebody wrote the shortsighted comment “not all of us have cars”. That’s missing the point completely:

    Turn by turn is *not* tied to driving directions. You could use it walking or biking with your headphones on, keeping the phone in your pocket.

    While this may not appeal to you as a normal sighted person strolling your neighborhood, just think about being a tourist somewhere and not having to look at a map every other turn or imagine having limited vision and coming to a new part of town.

  61. I agree with Justin H. There has to be a global solution for this using geoJSON files. However, the logistics of producing this beggar belief so I suspect we’re going to be relying on wall maps for some time to come…..

  62. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have a 50 mile (each direction) commute. My workplace provides an annual pass for 3 of the 8 (or more) transit agencies that operate in the area. My normal commute is pretty consistent, but if I ever need to go somewhere other than my office or home, I need a multi-mode transit aggregator that can process all the potential connections and give me the fastest directions.

    The iOS 5 Maps app is ideal for this. It “just works.” There is no existing replacement. Shame on Apple for downgrading the one feature that reduces carbon emissions and improves air quality by providing real-time transit connection information across a wide geographical range.

    I’ll be hard-pressed to upgrade to iOS 6 until this particular technical challenge is re-solved. Others up-thread have already enumerated the problems with the google maps website running in a mobile browser.

  63. As a long term user of the native iOS google maps app, i can say, it sucks! I frequently catch any one of 5 buses to work and school and the native iOS app for bus directions never quite seemed finished to me.

    Things that currently still don’t work in google’s native iOS app

    – walking time isn’t included in the trip departure time, i’ve missed many a bus because the “full” maps.google.com version includes this time in your travel but for some rediculous reason the native iOS google maps app doesn’t

    – sometimes you have to toggle from bus directions, to driving directions, back to bus directions to get it to find a route, i’ve experienced this problem for several months, tried power cycling, and reloading the phone, checking gps reception, even tried just plain waiting to see if it would just fix it’s self, but when it hung, it was completely stuck until i figured out that trick

    – multiple alternate routes ARE NOT easily shown on the native google iOS maps app, you have to press a button, then select another time with absolutely no other information such as bus route number and transfers (which the maps.google.com site shows by simply scrolling down)

    – and of course cycling directions aren’t on the native iOS google maps app, which they are on the maps.google.com site

  64. To all the ignorant idiots who keep claiming transit directions were a “US only” feature: you’re at least as stupid as you are wrong.

    http://code.google.com/p/googletransitdatafeed/wiki/PublicFeeds

    For most of the cities on that very long list, there are no good alternatives in the App Store, and probably still won’t be when iOS 6 ships.

    And to those of you who keep pointing out you can “just go to maps.google.com in Safari”: …yeah, you’ve never actually tried using that, have you? It’s completely terrible, to the point where it’s borderline unusable. It can’t give you directions from your current location (go ahead and try it right now). Oh sure, it can get your location, but when you go to fill in the destination, “My Location” disappears from the starting point, and there’s no way to get it back. Furthermore, the map tiles are low res, pixelated and hard to read, and the interface is incredibly slow to respond, keeps flickering and occasionally turns completely blank or even resets for no apparent reason. You really want to screw around with that when you’re in a hurry and trying to get somewhere?

    I wouldn’t bank on Google releasing its own native maps app either. They have not announced any intention to do so, and really, what motivation do they have to build an app for a competing platform when they can gain a competitive edge by doing nothing at all? You’re dreaming.

    This is a really lousy situation for anyone who relies on the transit directions, and at least for me, probably enough of a reason not to upgrade to iOS 6. I don’t care what the excuses are from the apologists; if Apple wasn’t ready with its own solution, it should have found a way to extend the deal with Google and at least maintain the current feature until there’s a real alternative available. This article does nothing but confirm the exact situation everyone was so worried about.

  65. As much as I want to try iOS 6, without transit directions built- in, I can not upgrade. I live in Tokyo, and can not read the Japanese transit maps, so I use this function EVERY DAY. A third party app for Tokyo is not going to offer English menus or directions. This was a big mistake for Apple. Outside of North America, the car culture does not exist. Here, 90%+ of the population use public transit everyday and about 50% of them use an iPhone. This will push people to the competitor. I just can not fathom the stupidity of this move. We couldn’t care less about their spat with Google.

  66. First off, Google will obviously produce a Google Maps app for iOS6 if you want it (Google Earth for example already exists).

    Or you could simply create a bookmark to maps.google.com on your home page and continue to use everything via Google (although StreetView won’t work because it’s Flash based).

    The licence agreement with Google to use their maps has expired. It is not clear whether it was Apple or Google who chose not to renew it.

    Of course Apple will remove every Google service from the iPhone (the YouTube app will disappear with iOS 6 too) because Google chose to directly compete with Apple. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use Google services, but you’ll have to grab an app from the App Store to do so; why should Google get special treatment over other developers?

    If you love Google so much that you don’t want to use services by anyone else, then obviously you should buy an Android phone.

    Meanwhile I look forward to seeing what developers do with the new routing API – it presenets a great opportunity for indie developers to come up with some great services (nationwide perhaps) that compete with Google (which doesn’t work very well for me in the UK anyway).

  67. Stormchild: “I wouldn’t bank on Google releasing its own native maps app either. They have not announced any intention to do so, and really, what motivation do they have to build an app for a competing platform when they can gain a competitive edge by doing nothing at all? You’re dreaming.”

    Well, the motivation is that Google gives away its operating system, maps and all other services for free because Google is an advertising company. It is a very different business from Apple. Apple makes money from selling hardware, software and content. Google makes almost all its money from selling advertising. It is in Google’s interest to have its services available in every form on every device so its clients get more ad impressions.

  68. absence of transit might be a deal breaker for me i rely on google maps for ttc directions if its gone in IOS6 i might finally consider moving to android

  69. Well, I have just spent the better part of two years planning an LA/southern California trip and depend on the transit directions in the iphone maps. I can’t believe they are taking this away just 10 days before I leave. I love my iphone but this was one of my most used features and I am very upset apple id not going to continue it. I used it in NYC last year as well as a few other places and use it to figure out what hotels will be convenient via transit. Hopefully I can just not “update” until I get back from this complicated vacation! Boo apple. So far this is the only strike but it’s a big one for me.

  70. Yes, if you do not update to IoS 6 before your trip you can keep using Google’s Maps natively in IOS 5x or earlier. I’m pretty apprehensive about this myself living in San Francisco I depend on public transit and walking directions all the time to get around. Sure there are 3rd party apps to get real time info on train/subway/light rail/bus etc. here in The City and surrounding Bay, but that’s mostly helpful when you already know what you need to take and/or transfer to in order to get to/from your destination. my Iphone 5 should be here in a couple days and I really hope a solution is in place when it gets here.

  71. For those of you saying this is only a US problem you’re dead wrong. I’m living in tokyo, and (like everywhere in japan) trains are crucial. Everyone goes everywhere by trains, and there are usually 3 or 4 different routes to choose from, depending on # of transfers, time, cost, etc. Google does it beautifully. There are like 30 train and 20 subway lines here in one city, some privately owned, some city owned, and if you need to know which ones to take and when (and when’s the last train so you don’t get stranded!) the maps app is key. I am not opposed to 3rd party apps if they work fast. The beauty of google maps is that you can type the station names in english or japanese, and the maps often have text in both languages. The one thing missing from google maps transit in japan is bus routes. so, a 3rd party app that could help with that would be nice. But in general I will wait for the google maps app to download again. assuming i get the phone, but since my 3gs is slowly dying that’s a forgone conclusion. no android for me, but that doesn’t mean i’m not pissed.

  72. The new maps on io6 really suck. i live in Bombay and the new maps provided have nothing to offer. I have been so dependent on google maps but suddenly the maps feature has become redundant. There’s no Google Maps app yet. Just waiting desperately for that.

  73. “Bike directions have never been available on the iPhone, and still won’t be in iOS 6”

    Hm, typical American-centric thinking? Google added these for The Netherlands quite some time ago – I’m guessing they did for more European countries. The public transport info and congestion information was up to scratch as well.

    I guess I’m not going to upgrade to iOS6 until there’s a dedicated app by Google, since Apple’s try at maps is seriously lacking.

  74. Andy, do you have any detail on why Apple never implemented realtime (turn by turn) navigation in the earlier versions of Maps? Is it the Google licensing agreement, or something else?

  75. I just read this post after following a link from Anil Dash and don’t have an iPhone but do have an iPad that I do use the maps feature so transit is not a huge issue however I have gone online to check the local Metro light rail for times before I left for a destination to avoid having to wait at a stop for too long and would find being able to grab my iPad and get this information much more useful than having to go to the transit’s web site.

    The problem with the solution given (a listing of apps) is that at this point who in their right mind would want to invest the time and energy to develop an app knowing that it will soon be killed by Apple adding this feature.

  76. Were public transit directions removed? As of this beta, inline public transit directions are gone from the Maps application in iOS 6. Clicking the public transit button will display a list of third-party apps…

    which of them works?

    it’s ridiculous I pay from $115+ every month for this bs? att became greedy

  77. Lars: I am not sure why you think no bicycle directions is American-centric thinking. We have bicycles and Google maps, an American company has had bike/walking/Transit for American cities for years.

    Andy: Apple could have shook the bugs out, they had a contract for another year with Google. The short answer is they figure iPhone users will take it and they are trying to fulfill Jobs promise to go “Thermonuclear” to “destroy Android.” IPhone maps users are simply collateral damage.

    Boris: AT&T has nothing to do with this. This was corporate decision by Apple. They were barely able to get a coherent mapping program out for iPhone 5, transit was simply a feature that wouldn’t fit into the time frame.

Comments are closed.