Apple announced iOS 6 today, which replaces the built-in Google Maps with Apple’s own mapping solution. While the upgrade will include such niceties as turn-by-turn directions and 3D city flyovers (cool!), transit directions will be conspicuously absent from the new operating system, due this fall.
For many people (myself included), transit directions are a key feature of Google Maps. Perhaps Apple decided that building up a competitor to Google Transit wasn’t worth the effort. It’s also possible that the suburban-centric culture in Cupertino didn’t see the value in the service. Maybe they simply didn’t have enough time.
Whatever the reason, it opens up a great opportunity for enterprising transit app developers.* Apple says it will highlight transit apps from within the iOS Maps application. It’s unclear if this will include real-time arrival apps like OneBusAway, or just apps that provide actual transit directions.** Most apps seem to focus on the former, since that’s the data that transit agencies tend to provide via their GTFS feed. I’d love to hear from any developers in the comments about how difficult it would be to build an app that did the point-to-point transit directions as well as Google does.
* Speaking of which, it’s quite curious to me that no local news outlets have created a good transit app. I open OBA several times per day, and it knows exactly what intersections in this city I live, work, and play. Advertising gold, especially if you already have a locally-focused ad sales team sitting around.
** As of the time of this writing, I couldn’t find any apps that provided the latter for Seattle.