Google Maps Lands On The Apple Watch: Simpler But Still Smart

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Maps adds its 3D flyover view to new cities, towns, and castles.

At Google’s press event today, the company announced a number of new products and updates, including two new Nexus smartphones, two Chromecast devices, a new Android tablet and more, but one thing it kept under wraps was news of a notable new application arriving on the iOS platform: Google Maps now works on Apple Watch.Apple have added several new Flyover locations to Apple Maps on Mac and iOS, highlighting landmarks and features in several countries including Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.While Google Maps might have the edge on its mapping rivals in terms of features, Apple’s own Maps app has one thing Google’s doesn’t — its 3D Flyover mode.It’s been a long wait, but Apple Watch finally gets Google Maps, which is good news for most people who have been sorely disappointed by Apple’s version of a map guide.

Through an update to the Google Maps iOS app on the iTunes App Store, Google has quietly rolled out an Apple Watch version of its popular (and, even among Apple fans, often preferred) mapping application. For those unfamiliar with the Flyover feature in Apple Maps, it lets users see photo-realistic 3D videos of select areas, which they can zoom, pan, and rotate through to get a close up look at notable landmarks and points of interest.

The viewing option overlays detailed images of a location onto precise topographical and structural data, allowing you to zoom in on accurately portrayed buildings, hills, and other landmarks that look like little toy versions of themselves. The new Watch app offers a simpler version of Google Maps compared to what’s available on smartphones, as it’s designed to work more as a companion app to the richer, more feature-rich smartphone counterpart. A single location in Mexico and two new locations in Japan were also added to the service, bringing the number of Flyover locations up to more than 160 locations. On the Watch app, you can tap buttons to quickly get routes to saved locations, like “Home” or “Work.” In addition, when you pull up directions on your iPhone, these are immediately synced to Apple Watch so that they’re accessible when you launch the app on your smartwatch.

Included in the latest batch are tourist hotspots such as Florence, Genoa, and Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle, a Bavarian hilltop palace that looks like something out of a fairytale. Some cities — including Tokyo, London, and New York — have the option for the user to go on a Flyover “guided tour,” the view sweeping in and out of key locations, areas, and tourist sights.

Google Maps is seen by many as the market leader but speaking in June Craig Federighi, Apple’s software VP, said that Apple Maps was used 3.5-times more often than the “next leading maps app,” notching up 5 billion requests per week. The app received multiple updates throughout the years that have deemed it as mostly a decent product, but Google has been updating their app at an almost constant. The first, “Google News & Weather,” was a fairly bare-bones application that felt more like Google was experimenting with building for Apple Watch and its related feature sets rather than a real attempt at developing something useful for Apple Watch owners. And while Apple Maps still lacks the Street View features of Google’s competing service, the company is apparently attempting to catch up with its rival.

Apple-marked cars and vans have been spotted in cities in the United States and United Kingdom, each bearing similar 3D camera equipment used by Google’s own mapping vehicles, and with its iOS 9 update, Apple added public transit directions to make traversing cities simpler. In addition to the Apple Watch support, the smartphone app also now offers the ability to compare ETAs by mode of transportation, a way to call businesses and get directions from a list of places, a nearby transit widget for the iOS Notification Center, and more.

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