updated 11:20 am EDT, Tue March 11, 2014
May better compete with Google Maps
Apple is working on a number of major improvements to Maps for iOS 8, sources say. These include using assets picked up through acquisitions of companies like BroadMap, Embark, and HopStop to make data more reliable. Apple is in fact said to be planning to insert more points of interest, and new labels, making it easier to find places like airports, parks, bus stops, and highways. The look of maps has reportedly been cleaned up in general, making streets easier to spot.
The most critical upgrade is predicted to be the return of public transit directions. While public transit was integrated into iOS 5, Apple stripped it out in iOS 6 when it removed Google content. iOS 8 will allegedly include train/subway and bus data, and "enhanced" directions to major airports. At first only bigger cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco will have transit support, but that should expand nationally and (possibly) internationally.
Public transit is expected to be an option in both the regular Directions panel, and in a new mapping view. The latter will join the Standard, Satellite, and Hybrid view options, but highlight where transit systems are. When choosing to get directions, Maps should bring up a panel of available routes, with departure, arrival, and travel times. As in many transit apps, people will be able to pick a custom departure time; Maps will also be able to display directions at the relevant time, similarly to Google Now on Android devices. Other planned options include sharing routes, and setting public transit as the default method of transportation.
Beyond 2014, Apple is said to be working on integrating indoor mapping, and improving car integration past current functions such as CarPlay. One area the company is working on its augmented reality; assuming it comes to fruition, the feature would presumably overlay map data on top of live video as a person scans a device around.
While not mentioned by the sources, iOS 8 is generally expected to be announced at this summer's WWDC and ship in the fall, much like iOS 7. Earlier reports have hinted that iOS 8 will also include "Healthbook," an app meant to link with health sensors in the iWatch and/or other devices.