Skift Take

Both Apple and Google know that the next battle is to help people discover the physical world around them. This is Apple's latest attempt, but is still significantly behind its rival.

Tuesday’s Apple event in San Francisco was mostly about faster laptops and lighter iPads, but it was also about changes to the operating system that powers the company’s laptops and desktops. Among the upgrades and features that greet users who downloaded Mavericks, the new OS, is a desktop version of the Maps app that has troubled users of the iPhone and iPad since the app’s launch last fall.

Maps for OS Mavericks is a blown up version of the mobile version, with a few nice looking features and some a similar big disappointment.

What’s missing is best illustrated by looking for directions on Google Maps, and then comparing. Directions between two far off destinations on Google will give users driving directions, as well as airline options (with links to buy tickets). For two places in closer proximity, users get driving, walking, cycling, and public transit directions.

And they’re reliable.

On Apple’s mobile Map app, there’s a clunky integration of public transportation directions that lead users to third-party services — including Google Maps — and out of the app. On the new Maps desktop app, the clunkiness is gone, because driving and walking are the only options.

Apple does have this data, it just hasn’t been integrated yet following purchase of the transit app Embark in late August and subway direction app HopStop in July. In major cities the absence makes Maps next to useless.

One fun feature: You can export any map and associated directions as a PDF. It’s a simple feature that will save people two or three extra steps, and it makes sharing easier. If only every other part of Maps was this thoughtful.

Click through the images above for more insight into Apple’s new desktop Maps application. 

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Tags: apple maps, maps

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