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Apple's new Maps app in OS X Mavericks extends tools for reporting, fixing errors

Apple has brought its iOS Maps to OS X Mavericks, adding enhanced error reporting tools to leverage crowdsourcing in order to improve its mapping service, search results, location information and directions.

OS X Mavericks Maps

Source: Apple


The upcoming release of OS X Mavericks brings Apple's Maps to the Mac desktop in the form of a native app, giving it an enormous advantage over the web-only mapping services offered by Google, Nokia and others.

As a native Cocoa app, OS X Maverick Maps is blazing fast, supports familiar multitouch gestures like pinch to zoom, directly integrates with Contacts, syncs location Bookmarks with iCloud and can share locations and directions using standard Share Sheets via email, iMessage, nearby users with AirDrop or to Twitter and Facebook.

One of the primary notable features in OS X's new Maps app, as demonstrated by Apple's head of software engineering Craig Federighi at WWDC earlier this month, is the ability to plan a trip at home and then forward the route, via iCloud, directly to your iPhone for turn by turn directions in your car (below).

OS X Mavericks Maps

Source: Apple


Reporting maps errors made easier on the big screen



But another clear intent of putting Maps on the Mac involves leveraging lots of eyeballs to identify and report errors, something Apple has made easier to discover and do on the Mac when compared to smaller-screened mobile devices.

Apple has always included a way to "report a problem" in iOS 6 Maps, but because it does so in the context of Yelp local search information, it's not readily obvious that this button is for reporting map errors rather than just filing a grievance against a business or Yelp's data (below).



Additionally, once a user decides to report an issue, whether related to the contact information of a particular point of interest, an incorrect pin location or a nonexistent search result, the small size of a mobile device's screen also complicates this task.

On MacBook or Cinema Display, it's much easier to report an issue. Users can even open another window to perform a parallel search for the correct data of a particular location.

Where's the fire (station)?



Apple has also improved its Maps issue reporting process, a necessary function for a tool that depicts the entire globe and all of the changes, construction and location updates occurring by the millions every day.

One example of a significant, recent map change involves Fire Station 1, which was recently moved out of the way for an expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The museum contributed $10 million dollars to design and build a new station a couple blocks away, which was just completed a few months ago.

Apple Maps still shows the old location on Howard Street, information that's also incorrect on Yelp, where Apple gets the data. The change is recent enough that it doesn't yet even show up on the city's fire station map.

Google Maps

Source: Google Maps


Google Maps for iPhone, the current web version of Google Maps, and the new vector-based WebGL version of Google Maps that's now in beta (above) all pinpoint the station at its new location, at least if you explicitly search for "Fire Station 1." If you just search for "fire station," Google Maps shows you several surrounding locations but omits the new one.

All three versions also portray the site with outdated Street Views (below) that show (mostly obscured by trees at the street level) the previous building: the site of an illegal sweatshop the Feds shut down a decade ago.

Google Street View

Source: Google Maps


In Google's iOS Maps app (below top), you can see Street Views or, in standard satellite mode, you can see the building's roof. In the new web-only WebGL Google Maps beta, you can also see Google's Flyover-like view, although unlike Apple Maps, you can only view Google's 3D satellite images from fixed angles and the images are much lower quality.

Google Maps

Source: Google Maps

Google Maps

Source: Google Maps


Apple Maps also shows the old building on the new site (below). While Apple doesn't have Google's Street View images, it does pull street level, interior and other site relevant photos from Yelp and other sources for selected locations.

OS X Mavericks Maps

Source: Apple


In Flyover, you can also zoom in and around a 3D modeled satellite view of the old (below) and new sites, but as with Google's static satellite and Street Views, it's often hard to know how old the satellite images are and equally impossible to correct them on your own. You can, however, submit a report flagging an error, as described on the next page.

OS X Mavericks Maps

Source: Apple