Apple Maps is a web mapping service developed by Apple Inc. It is the default map system of iOS, macOS, and watchOS. It provides directions and estimated times of arrival for automobile, pedestrian, and public transportation navigation. Apple Maps also features the Flyovers mode, a feature that enables a user to explore certain densely populated urban centers and other places of interest in a 3D landscape composed of models of buildings and structures.
On September 19, 2012, Apple released its mapping service in iOS, replacing Google Maps as the default mapping service for Apple operating systems. In the initial launch, it received large amounts of criticism from users and newspapers for incorrect directions, a lack of support for public transportation users and various other bugs and errors. Since its introduction, further software development has addressed many of those criticisms.
On June 11, 2012, during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced the initial release of Apple Maps and revealed that the application would replace Google Maps as the default web mapping service in iOS 6 and beyond. Apple also announced that the application would include turn-by-turn navigation, 3D maps, Flyovers, and the virtual assistant Siri. Furthermore, Apple stated that iPhone users would be able to navigate Apple Maps while in the locked screen. The mapping service was released on September 19, 2012. Following the launch, Apple Maps was heavily criticized, which resulted in a public apology by Apple CEO Tim Cook in late September and the departure of two key employees of Apple. (See also §Early inaccuracy)
Before Apple Maps launched as the default mapping application in iOS, Google Maps held this position since the first generation iPhone release in 2007. In late 2009, tensions between Google and Apple started to grow when the Android version of Google Maps featured turn-by-turn navigation, a feature which the iOS version lacked. At the time, Apple argued that Google collected too much user data. When Apple made iOS 6 available, Google Maps could only be accessed by iOS 6 users via the web. Although Google did not immediately launch a mapping application of its own, shortly after the announcement of Apple Maps, Google did add an equivalent of Apple Maps’ Flyover feature to its virtual globe application Google Earth. Three months later, in December 2012, Google Maps was released in the App Store. This version of Google Maps, unlike the previous version, featured turn-by-turn navigation. Shortly after it was launched, Google Maps was the most popular free application in the App Store.
Speculation around Apple creating a mapping service of its own arose in 2009 after computer magazine Computerworld reported that Apple had acquired the company Placebase, an online mapping service, in July of that year. Since then, the CEO of Placebase became a part of Apple‘s “Geo Team”. In the following two years, Apple acquired two more mapping related companies who specialized in 3D maps: Poly9 in 2010 and C3 Technologies in 2011. C3 Technologies’ imagery was later used for the Flyovers feature in Apple Maps. Earlier in 2011, Apple indicated its plan for a mapping service when it stated on its website that it was collecting location data to create “an improved traffic service in the next couple of years” for iPhone users. In September 2012, when Apple Maps was released, a source connected to both Google and Apple Maps claimed to technology website TechCrunch that Apple was recruiting Google employees that worked on Google Maps.