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Apple adds 3D Flyovers of San Francisco East Bay, Berkeley to Maps app

updated 07:14 pm EDT, Fri April 18, 2014

UC Berkeley was birthplace of BSD Unix kernel used in OS X, iOS

Apple has again expanded its Maps program for both iOS and OS X by adding 3D "Flyover" support for the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the city of Berkeley and its University of California campus, which by happenstance is the birthplace of the original UNIX used as the foundation of both OS X and iOS. The 3d Flyover feature has generally been regarded as one of Maps' best features, alongside turn-by-turn driving navigation.

UC Berkeley campus in Apple Maps
UC Berkeley campus in Apple Maps

The lack of such features, deliberately withheld from Apple by Google in order to popularize its then-fledgling Android system, forced Apple to create its own mapping technology. The Flyover feature, brought in as part of an acquisition of C3, has improved significantly in Apple's hands, however -- leading to several instances where Apple's Maps outperforms the 3D features of Google Earth, such as Hoover Dam, AppleInsider notes.

Google Earth (left) vs Apple Maps (right)
Google Earth (left) vs Apple Maps (right)

At the beginning of the year, Apple also added Flyover support for Helsinki in Finland and Cape Town, South Africa -- and just last month added the Spanish city of Cordoba, Australia's Perth and the French vacation resort town of Saint-Tropez. Updates in Maps are handled silently and nearly continuously, with Apple making error-reporting a priority and making it easy for users to submit issues and be notified when they are fixed.

Rival Google Maps continues to be a popular alternative on iOS, primarily for its Street View and transit direction features. Apple appears to be on track to adding transit directions to its own Maps app, having advertised for public transit feature engineers. Even without it, however, the improvements steadily introduced since its error-prone launch in 2012 have made the program the most popular mapping application on iOS, winning back users over time and as Google's map services have been seen to stagnate and some UI changes alienating users.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Gazoobee

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 02-27-09

    Wow. So many completely unsupported assumptions in this article.

    Isn't it more likely to be popular just because it's the default? And where are these "improvements steadily introduced since it's error-prone launch"???? The maps in my town are horrendously, hideously inaccurate and have remained exactly the same in every single respect since the product launched. No corrections or improvements have been made at all, despite hundreds of attempts to alert Apple to the problems.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal.

    Maps in my town has been very accurate recently, right down to being current on traffic diversions. They did take a year to add a major bypass that was completed winter 2012, but it's there now, and things have been improving.

    Of course Apple Maps will be popular because it's the default. Fact is, it was UNpopular enough to see a lot of users install and use Google Maps. I STILL occasionally go to Google Maps to find a point of interest that Apple Maps just won't give me — though very rarely, of late.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    The last holdout for me would be real-time traffic, a la Google Maps.

    I frequently commute between two major cities an hour or two apart, along a highway known for its traffic and accidents. Google's real-time, visual traffic overlay is paramount to those commutes for quick path changes.

    Once Apple brings traffic overlays of the same caliber as Google, you can count me in.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Gazoobee said: "Isn't it more likely to be popular just because it's the default?"

    Well, no. Google Maps was more popular than Apple Maps for *quite some time* after the new Google Maps launched on iOS, because of the problems you mention. It was only in the last year that Apple Maps regained the top spot -- as explained in the link connected to the words "most popular" in the article above.

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Yes, I'm less likely to chastise this article for validating "supposed" Apple Maps improvements as I am to remind those of the deficiencies that Google Maps for iOS had prior to Apple's solution's release. One of the major reasons Apple Maps came about was Google's shortcomings w/ iOS vs. its Android counterpart, whether deliberate or not. At the very least, Apple Maps deserves a lot of credit for not only slowly improving itself but forcing Google to improve their iOS solution.

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