A First Look at Apple Maps for the Mac

Like many people in the last 24 hours I’ve downloaded the new Mac OS Mavericks. Among other new features it comes with Apple Maps for the desktop. It resides on the menu bar (it appeared there this morning) so it’s very handy.

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The UI is essentially the same as the iOS version of Apple Maps. It’s attractive and straightforward to use. For simple local searches and lookups it’s as fast or faster than going to the browser.

Navigating around and zooming using the trackpad are simple and smooth.

Apple Maps for PC

Yelp provides the ratings data and much of the content for Apple Maps, just as on iOS. You can thus do all the same kinds of queries you would do on iOS — or Google or Yelp or YP sites.

Presumably the “directions engine” is identical to that being used for iOS. And while Apple has been steadily improving the data and quality of directions there still may be problems. The company essentially needs a marketing campaign to win back the trust of users.

Apple Maps for PC

Apple Maps

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As promised there are also 3-D views in the conventional map UI and in the other available views on Apple Maps.

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There’s a long piece to be written comparing Google Maps, Apple Maps, Bing, Mapquest and others on the PC to one another. But in my very quick test of Apple’s new PC maps I was pleased and believe that I will use them. I’ll watch and see how/whether that affects my Google Maps usage.

Mapping activity is partly shifting to mobile devices, yet the online maps market remains a very strategic one. Like everything else mapping  (local search) is now a “cross-platform” contest.

How Apple Maps will impact Google Maps is uncertain. In the beginning there’s likely to be very little impact. Over time, especially when combined with iOS Apple Maps usage, it could be more meaningful.

If you’re a Mac owner, download Mavericks and try out Apple Maps for the desktop and let me know what you think.

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