Apple on Monday unveiled their all new Maps app, dumping Google as a maps provider and utilizing their own internal assets and apparently some data from Tom Tom. The problem with this is that while the new Maps app is beautiful, it loses some key features that made the previous version far superior.
The one big step forward was the addition of voice enabled turn by turn directions. A great addition and one that will save many people lots of money on third party GPS apps.
The steps backward are odd as some would seem to be small features to implement, but a huge impact for many users.
I, like many, use the Maps app all the time in urban areas. The absence of transit directions built in is a huge loss to me and any other city dweller. Apple have announced that they are looking to app developers to provide Transit Apps, but the integration of those apps remains unknown (under NDA). Having it all in one place just makes sense. Putting this in the hands of third parties will likely lead to just too much instability. For one thing, you'll likely need a new app/data provider for each city you visit. Under iOS 5 and before, it's one maps app that covered the world. Via Grist we learn that the new Maps app will have walking directions, but routing for transit will be offloaded to third party apps.
The ability to go to an address on a map and then look at what that location looks like is a very useful feature. Street View as Google named it is a feature that will be missed.
Readability of the maps seems to be degraded a considerably. I can only judge from the posted screens, but the street and business names in the previous version seemed easier on the eyes for straight map reading. In addition, the different road types stood out considerably more than they do under the new Maps app.
One thing to note is that what was shown at the keynote is the first public beta version. It will most certainly be refined over the coming months before final release. Well at least we can hope so.