Apple Maps Gains Detailed Terrain Features for Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada US States

As part of its ongoing effort to rebuild Apple Maps, Apple has added detailed terrain features to the U.S. states of Arizona and New Mexico as well as the southern portion of Nevada, including the city of Las Vegas.


The enhancements are the result of Apple's street-level data collection using LiDAR-equipped vehicles, which has been going on for over three years. Related improvements first rolled out in Northern California in iOS 12 and have extended to Hawaii and Southern California over the past few months.

The overall look and feel of Apple Maps is mostly the same, but zooming and panning reveals more details like grass, trees, sports fields, and parking lots. Apple says search results also become more relevant.

Apple Maps vehicles have been collecting mapping data in the United States since 2015, with over 45 states at least partially surveyed to date. Apple will begin surveying Alaska, South Carolina, and Tennessee between March and July, according to an update to its recently revamped Apple Maps image collection website.

Back in June 2018, Apple said the revamped mapping data would roll out section by section across the rest of the United States over the following year. Since then, a pattern has emerged that appears to show Apple prefers rolling out the updated maps in adjacent continental U.S. states, rather than prioritizing more population-rich regions of the nation like the Northeast.

Our source notes that Apple is also working on an updated appearance for northeastern cities like New York, given that special detailed terrain features can be seen – perhaps unintentionally – when entering turn-by-turn navigation.


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Apple Maps Vehicles to Begin Surveying Final U.S. States

As part of its efforts to rebuild Apple Maps, Apple has been collecting street-level data with LiDAR-equipped vehicles for over three years, with at least 45 states across the U.S. partially surveyed to date.


That total is set to rise in the coming months, as Apple has confirmed it will begin surveying Alaska, South Carolina, and Tennessee between March and July, according to an update to its recently revamped Apple Maps image collection website. Data collection is also set to continue in seven other states over that time.
Apple is conducting ground surveys around the world to collect data which will be used to improve Apple Maps. Some of this data will be published in future Apple Maps updates. We will also periodically revisit some locations to gather new data in an effort to maintain a high-quality, up-to-date map. We are committed to protecting your privacy while conducting these surveys. For example, we will blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication.
To our best knowledge, the only states that Apple has yet to confirm surveying are Arkansas and Oklahoma, although Twitter users have spotted the vehicles in both states since last year and perhaps earlier. It's possible the vehicles were only passing through those states without collecting mapping data.


Whether the total is 48 or 50 states, Apple's surveying efforts have reached nearly every corner of the United States. Apple plans to roll out its improved Maps app across the country section by section over the next year.

The improvements first rolled out in Northern California in iOS 12 and have extended to Hawaii and Southern California over the past few months. The overall look and feel of Apple Maps is mostly the same, but zooming and panning reveals more details like grass, trees, sports fields, and parking lots.

Apple Maps vehicles have also surveyed parts of Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and they are headed to Andorra in April, according to Apple's website. It's unclear when the Apple Maps improvements will be available internationally.


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New Report Delves Into Poor Working Conditions at an Apple Maps ‘Black Site’

A new report out today by Bloomberg offers a look inside one of Apple's so-called "black sites," this one a satellite office near Apple Park in California where the company hires contractors to work on Apple Maps. These contract workers were hired by Apex Systems, which staffs and manages a few Apple mapping offices, and creates a "culture of fear" according to former employees.

One former worker at the black site near Apple Park, on Hammerwood Avenue in Sunnyvale, said that "it was made pretty plain to us that we were at-will employees and they would fire us at any time." Most workers at the office signed up for 12-15 month work contracts, but many didn't make it that long.

Image via David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

To hire workers, sources referred to "aggressive" messaging received via LinkedIn. Apex Systems browses the social network to find people with proficiency in mapping-related skills, and then "messages them repeatedly." Former workers then say Apex uses the revelation that the job will be for Apple as a way to tip potential employees over the edge and easily hire them.

Former workers described a poor work environment with understocked vending machines, long lines for men's bathrooms due to a predominantly male workforce, and restrictions on using the bathrooms designated for full-time Apple employees. To protect Apple's secrets, management instructed employees to enter the building through the back door every day, and to walk several blocks away from the building before calling for a ride home at the end of the day.
The working environment was uncomfortable in other ways, according to current and former contractors. Apex managers sometimes broke up unauthorized water-cooler socializing. Several workers say their managers would get notifications if their workstations were idle for too long. “Being monitored like that is super dehumanizing and terrifying,” says one former Apex mapping technician.
Many workers who took the contract jobs did so because Apex played up the possibility of landing full-time work with Apple down the line, but chances for this turned out to be small. At the same time, many other workers agreed to the contract work to have Apple on their resume, but even that wasn't a possibility.

At first, they could put "Apple, via Apex Systems" as their employer on sites like LinkedIn, but then in the summer of 2018 Apex instructed all workers to remove the word "Apple" and to describe their employer as "A Major Tech Company Via Apex Systems."

These differences between contract workers and full-time employees have led to what some sources called a caste system within Apple.
The restrictions were just one of many reminders of the contractors’ inferior status, right down to the apple design on their ID badges. For direct employees, the apples were multi-colored; contractors got what one described as “sad grey.” It’s common for companies to distribute different badges to contractors, a practice that discontented workers across the industry have seized on as evidence of a caste system.

Amber Lutsko, who worked for Apple through Apex in 2017 and 2018, described an opening-day pep talk that aimed to make her feel both honored and excluded. “‘You work at Apple now! You have made it!’” she recalls being told. “‘You’re not allowed to use the gym.’”
The Hammerwood office is managed by Apex, not Apple, and in a surprise audit on the staffing company, Apple said it found a work environment consistent with other Apple locations. According to an Apple spokesperson, "Like we do with other suppliers, we will work with Apex to review their management systems, including recruiting and termination protocols, to ensure the terms and conditions of employment are transparent and clearly communicated to workers in advance."

In November 2018, Apex changed the maximum amount of paid annual sick time from 48 to 24 hours, leading to a protest as over a dozen contractors said they had suddenly fallen ill and left work. Around the same time, Apex suddenly fired about two dozen people. Eventually, many remaining employees left Apex permanently and moved onto contract work at other companies that had better benefits for these workers, including Facebook and Google.

One former Apple contractor who worked under Apex, Amber Lutsko, was one of the workers who quit before her contract was up because of the company's questionable practices. Even now, a few months after she stopped working for Apex, the company's recruiters still find her through LinkedIn and send her messages about potential employment with a can't-be-named silicon valley company.

Other former contractors report the same, even ones who were fired by Apex: "You got rid of me because of my quote-unquote performance, and every three months I get these emails," says one of them. "It's insulting, honestly."

Head to Bloomberg to read the full report: What It's Like To Work Inside Apple's 'Black Site'


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Apple Maps Launches Revamped Data Collection Website

As part of its efforts to rebuild Apple Maps "from the ground up," Apple has been collecting street-level data with LiDAR-equipped vehicles for over three years. Apple also deployed employees wearing LiDAR-equipped backpacks to collect pedestrian-based data starting in California late last year.


As these efforts expand around the world, Apple recently transitioned to a revamped Apple Maps image collection website with a list of locations it will be surveying both in vehicles and on foot in the upcoming months.

The page reveals a few new pieces of information, including that pedestrian-based data collection has expanded to Hawaii and Nevada through February. Vehicle-based data collection will also be expanding to the tiny European country of Andorra, landlocked between France and Spain, in April 2019.

The new page, which replaces the previous Apple Maps vehicles list, also indicates that Apple will "periodically revisit some locations to gather new data in an effort to maintain a high-quality, up-to-date map."

Apple Maps vehicles have been collecting mapping data in the United States since 2015, with over 45 states at least partially surveyed to date. The vehicles have also surveyed parts of Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, according to Apple.

Back in June 2018, Apple said the revamped mapping data would roll out section by section across the rest of the United States over the following year. The improvements first rolled out in Northern California in iOS 12 and have extended to Hawaii and Southern California over the past few months.


The overall look and feel of Apple Maps is mostly the same, but zooming and panning reveals more details like grass, trees, sports fields, and parking lots. Apple also said search results would become more relevant.


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Apple Expands Transit Directions to New Areas, Introduces More Indoor Maps for Malls and Airports

Transit directions for Apple Maps have recently expanded to encompass the entirety of multiple states and countries, Apple today confirmed in an update to its Feature Availability page.

Transit directions are now available across all of Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Texas.


In many of these locations, transit information has been available for a few weeks, but Apple is often slow to confirm with updates to its Feature Availability page. Several of the above-listed locations also had transit directions in a few major cities, but transit information is now available statewide.

Transit directions have also expanded to encompass all of Australia, and as was discovered in January, transit information is available in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

Apple has introduced indoor maps three new airports, including Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Newcastle International Airport (NCL), and Milano Linate Airport (LIN).

Indoor maps have also expanded to quite a few malls in the cities listed below:

  • Bellingham, WA

  • Bloomington, IN

  • Boulder, CO

  • Brookvale, Australia

  • Burwood, Australia

  • Carindale, Australia

  • Cheltenham, Australia

  • Chermside, Australia

  • Castel Guelfo di Bologna, Italy

  • Chiyoda, Japan

  • Denver, CO

  • Eastgardens, Australia

  • Edinburgh, IN

  • Evansville, IN

  • Greenwood, IN

  • Hoover, AL

  • Hornsby, Australia

  • Hurstville, Australia

  • Jonesboro, AR

  • Lakewood, CO

  • Littleton, CO

  • Liverpool, Australia

  • Lone Tree, CO

  • Lynnwood, WA

  • Manchester, NH

  • Merrimack, Australia

  • Miranda, Australia

  • Minato-Ku, Japan

  • Moline, IL

  • North Little Rock, AR

  • Parramatta, Australia

  • Penrith, Australia

  • Rogers, AR

  • Salem, NH

  • Seattle, WA

  • Shibuya, Japan

  • Spokane Valley, WA

  • Spokane, WA

  • Suita-Shi, Japan

  • Sydney, Australia

  • Toshima, Japan

  • Upper Mount Gravatt, Australia

  • Vancouver, WA

  • Vicolungo, Italy
Indoor maps for malls and airports were introduced in iOS 11, providing full layouts of each mall or airport location with icons for restaurants, elevators, bathrooms, shops, and other notable landmarks. Different floors are clearly marked, making it easy to navigate through unknown areas.

A full list of all of the airports and mall locations where the Apple Maps indoor mapping feature is available can be found on Apple's Feature Availability website, which also houses a list of all of the locations where transit directions are available.


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Apple Maps Gains Transit Directions for Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland

Apple Maps today gained comprehensive transit directions for Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, in the largest single combined update to its European coverage thus far.


The coverage includes train, tram, and bus routes in the capital cities of each country, including Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Helsinki, as well as funicular connections where available and transit links across borders.

Apple has yet to update its official list of locations for which Maps offers Transit data, but the information is already live across Europe.

Google Maps has supported transit directions for several years now, but Apple Maps has been steadily catching up with detailed routing information in recent years.

Transit coverage began in 2015 with an initial rollout in Baltimore, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, and China. Since then, Apple has expanded the feature to many other regions around the world.

(Thanks, Bernd and Noah!)


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DuckDuckGo Integrates Apple Maps for Map and Address Searches

Privacy-focused browser DuckDuckGo today announced that it is using Apple's MapKit JS framework to power the map and address-related searches that its users conduct on both mobile and desktop.

MapKit JS allows DuckDuckGo to provide users with improved address searches, new visual features, enhanced satellite imagery, and continually updated maps without sacrificing privacy.


DuckDuckGo says that Apple Maps will be available embedded within private search results for relevant queries and from the Maps tab on any of the search result pages.

To bring up a map option, users can search for an address, a geographical place, a local business, a type of business, or places nearby.

DuckDuckGo does not collect or share any personal information from DuckDuckGo users, a policy that extends to the Apple Maps integration. Identifiable info like IP address is not provided to Apple, and for searches where approximate location is gathered by the browser, it is discarded immediately after it's used.


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Apple Maps Gains Turn-by-Turn Directions for Entire Indian Subcontinent

Apple has added turn-by-turn navigation to Apple Maps for the entire Indian subcontinent. The app now offers the detailed directions for driving and walking, with options to book a ride through Uber and Ola also showing within the app.


Still missing for users in India is public transit information, lane guidance and speed limits, although given that the addition of turn-by-turn directions is part of an ongoing improvement to Apple Maps, these are likely to follow.

Rival Google Maps has been the de facto navigation app in India for some time, thanks to its driving, walking, and public transport modes. Users of the app have also benefited from the development of region-specific special features like "two-wheeler" mode which provides motorcycle and scooter users with shortcuts across cities.

By contrast, Apple's navigational contributions in the country have come in for some criticism, with some users calling out the app's sparse data for a number of cities and towns, including missing landmarks.

The introduction of turn-by-turn directions comes nearly three years after Apple announced the opening of a Hyderabad-based development center focused on improving Apple Maps in India.

(Thanks, Ram!)


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Apple Maps Gains New Indoor Mall Maps and Flyover Locations

According to its Feature Availability page, Apple today introduced a number of new features for Apple Maps. Several new Flyover locations have been added, and available maps for indoor malls have expanded.

In some of these locations, the updates may have actually rolled out a few months ago, but Apple's updated list lets us know exactly where Maps feature are available. In other areas, the Flyover updates appear to be new and aren't showing up just yet.


New Flyover Locations



  • Aix-en-Provence, France

  • Aizuwakamatsu, Japan

  • Albuquerque, NM

  • Cannes, France

  • Charleston, SC

  • Cincinnati, OH

  • Collioure, France

  • Foxboro, MA

  • Freeport, Bahamas

  • Granada, Spain

  • Gifu, Japan

  • Greensboro, NC

  • Hikone, Japan

  • Himeji, Japan

  • Infantes, Spain

  • Izumo, Japan

  • Izushi, Japan

  • Joshua Tree National Park

  • Kahului, HI

  • Kanazawa, Japan

  • Kapaa, HI

  • Key West, FL

  • Kitakyushu, Japan

  • Kōya, Japan

  • Lahaina, HI

  • Lake Tahoe, CA

  • Lens, France

  • Lihue, HI

  • Matsumoto, Japan

  • Monaco

  • Nara, Japan

  • Naha, Japan

  • Odawara, Japan

  • Padua, Italy

  • Preston, England

  • Queenstown, New Zealand

  • Reggio Di Calabria, Italy

  • Remoulins, France

  • Sakai, Japan

  • Siracusa, Italy

  • Takahashi, Japan

  • Takamatsu, Japan

  • Tōjinbō, Japan

  • Toledo, OH

  • Treviso, Italy

  • Tsu, Japan

  • Twelve Apostles

  • Valladolid, Spain

  • Wailua, HI

  • Yokkaichi, Japan

  • Zaragoza, Spain


Indoor Maps


Apple Maps indoor mapping feature has expanded to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, and dozens of malls across the United States and other countries. We're not going to list them just because of the sheer number of new additions to the list, but mall maps have expanded in a major way since first being introduced in iOS 11.

You can see a full list of malls (and airports) that have indoor maps available in Apple Maps on Apple's Feature Availability page.

Speed Limits


In Canada, Apple has confirmed official support for speed limits within Apple Maps, a feature that Canadian users first began noticing a few months ago. Prior to the addition of Canada, speed limit information, a new iOS 12 feature, was only available in the UK and the United States.

Transit


Transit directions now also appear to be available across the states of Louisiana and Minnesota, with Apple updating previous listings that specified just Minneapolis and New Orleans.


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Apple Expands Transit Directions to New Locales and Introduces Indoor Maps at Additional Airports

Transit directions for Apple Maps have recently expanded to Belgium, Manila in the Philippines, Switzerland, Wyoming, and Iowa, Apple confirmed today in an update to its Feature Availability page for iOS.

In these locations, Apple Maps users can get directions using the transit options available in their states or countries. Apple actually implemented transit directions in these locales over the course of the last few months, but the Feature Availability page is only updated every few weeks.


Transit directions were added to Apple Maps in 2015 for a handful of cities, and since then, Apple has been working to expand the feature to additional areas. Transit information is now live in dozens of cities and countries around the world.

In addition to offering transit directions in new locations, Apple has also expanded its indoor maps availability to additional airports. All of the following airports now support indoor maps:

  • Brisbane Airport (BNE)

  • Central Japan International Airport (NGO)

  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

  • Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN)

  • Melbourne Airport (MEL)

  • Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)


Indoor maps for malls and airports were introduced in iOS 11, providing full layouts of each mall or airport location with icons for restaurants, elevators, bathrooms, shops, and other notable landmarks. Different floors are clearly marked, making it easy to navigate through unknown areas.

A full list of all of the airports and mall locations where the Apple Maps indoor mapping feature is available can be found on Apple's feature availability website, which also houses a list of all of the locations where transit directions are available.


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