A decade after a disastrous launch, is Apple Maps finally good?

  • August 9, 2023
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Engineers’ work on cycling and public transit have transformed the app – but rural directions remain a sticking point

In October 2022, New York City officials unveiled a new bike lane on Schermerhorn street, one of the most dangerous and heavily trafficked streets in downtown Brooklyn and somewhere I had always avoided on my bike. Unless I was a religious reader of transportation department press releases (I’m not), I would have no way of knowing the lane existed – except that very same morning, my Apple Maps app sent me on the new Schermerhorn bike lane, instead of hurtling down Dean Street. By the time I was taking my return route, it was busy with cyclists.

For Apple to know the lane was open, it had to have updates from the Adams’ administration, as well as, presumably, hundreds of other city governments around the world. How was the company pulling it off? And it’s not just cycling: it also knows the placement of the trees in Central Park, when the bus is coming, and whether a dive bar takes contactless payments or is cash only.

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