updated 10:21 pm EDT, Tue October 29, 2013
New positions hint at further new features for future updates
Two new job listings at Apple have confirmed that the company is actively working to add public transit routing data to its Maps program, a feature long called-for and expected since the Apple Maps rollout in 2012. The company is hiring a "Maps Public Transit Engineering Manager" as well as a team of "Maps C++ Software Engineers - Public Transit," according to the postings. The manager will be responsible for both leading and building the Public Transit team.
Apple has spent the last year expanding the overall Maps team, and complaints about the service have largely faded from its star-crossed debut, which featured incorrect labelling of places and distorted 3D graphics. While not every problem has been fixed, by and large users of Apple's Maps service -- particularly for driving directions -- find it to be as good or better than Google Maps, which has lost a number of head-to-head competitions.
However, users bemoaned the loss of public transit data when Apple Maps first replaced the previous, Google-powered Maps app, and the inclusion of such data is a major selling point for the iOS versions of Google Maps, now a separate free app. Originally, Apple suggested that city-specific public transit apps (available in most large cities) would be an ideal substitute, but customers wanted an integrated solution that could handle driving, transit and walking directions.
The Maps C++ software engineers will help "deliver the next generation of Maps services," Apple says. "Seize this ground-floor opportunity to help us build the world's best Transit Routing platform at massive scale." The job requires three or more years experience developing robust software systems, industry experience in C++ and Linux, and an "outstanding" understanding of algorithms and data structures among other skills.
"As a member of the Transit Routing team, you will work on one of the most anticipated features of Apple Maps. You will design and implement functionality that will be used by millions of users worldwide. Being part of a small team, you will have an influence on the future product," the job description reads in part. "In-depth knowledge about public transit both as a consumer of those services and the technical aspects" as well as a rounded expertise in navigation, GIS and digital maps is also required.
The managerial position is seeking candidates who can "lead a team of very skilled software engineers in improving the public transit experience in Apple's Maps. In addition to organizing the work for the team and working collaboratively across several engineering groups, efforts also need be spent on expanding the team." The position reads like an ad for a football coach, with the manager needing to not only write source code but establish strong relationships within the team, organize the work, meet deadlines, review the work of the other engineers, mentor the other team members and "actively contribute with software architecture, design and implementation of production code."