There’s been quite a bit of hoopla surround Apple’s decision not to include public transit directions in their new iOS Maps application, and instead outsource this to developers (many of whom have already been doing this for a while). On one hand, this sucks. On the other, Cocoanetics brings up a great point: it may actually be a somewhat savvy move.
As they note about a particular situation in Vienna:
A birdie tweeted into my ear that this was a result of a back-room deal aimed at neutering Google’s power by making Google Maps worthless for navigation in Vienna. And thus two apps became the only sources of routing information in Vienna. So even though Google was “working hard” they did never stand a chance against the secret deal between several monopolistic companies.
Even in the U.S., you have cities like San Francisco which have MUNI, Caltrain, and BART, all of which make up public transportation (and not even all of it). Currently, Google Maps picks up all those feed, but what if one of them decides they want to cut their own deal with another app or make their own? And what about taxi information and data from services like Uber?
I suspect Apple didn’t want to get into all of this because it’s a headache. If it’s important enough to users and the third-party solutions aren’t good enough, of course they will — but for now, they’re giving this a shot.
As an aside, I’m in London right now and used Google Maps to plan an Underground ride from the airport to the city. Google’s public transit directions gave me a wrong stop at which transfer. In fact, it gave me the only stop I *couldn’t* transfer from. It’s the little things that kill. And these transit systems are full of little things.