Google has invested significant human and technical effort into their Maps product since its launch in 2005, seven years ago. An excellent article in The Atlantic, “How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything” gives a behind-the-scenes view of the effort that goes into Google Maps.
We will see how Apple’s Maps evolve.
In the meantime, Google is working on a new Maps application for iOS that should be available before the end of the year (New York Times Bits Blog). And the removal of transit routing from Apple’s Maps are creating a boon for 3rd party transit app developers, Kevin Webb and I predicted:
- The Transit App Embark has seen more than 100,000 downloads in less than a week since iOS 6 launched (Techcrunch).
- New transit apps are becoming available, like Lumatic City Maps
What can transit agencies do to respond to the change in iOS 6 Maps, and continue to make it easier for their iPhone/iPad/iPod-using customers to navigate transit services? Here are steps that transit agencies can take:
- Be prepared to respond to your customers that ask about iOS 6. Put a news bulletin on your agency website, blog, or social media account; prepare an email template; feel free to refer your customers to resources on the Trillium blog or elsewhere online.
- Make your General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data public. This will enable developers to include your transit agency’s service information in their applications. Here are examples of approaches for communicating about public GTFS data: Mendocino Transit Authority and Oregon Department of Transportation. Read more about making GTFS data public and opening the door to transit applications in Trillium’s report “Opportunities to Leverage GTFS”. If your transit agency’s data is public, it should show up on OpenPlans’ Transit Data Dashboard, and will be included in their upcoming iOS 6 application that uses OpenTripPlanner.
- Create a Transit App Center (example from Mendocino Transit Authority). “App Centers” are not just for the big agencies anymore. Trillium is available to create an App Center for your agency.