Apple hiring developers to fix iOS maps

Apple hiring developers to fix iOS maps

Summary: Apple is assembling a crack team of developers to help improve its issues around iOS, making several job postings in the past week for those that like ... bunnies.

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TOPICS: iOS, Apple, iPhone
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Apple's iOS maps application has been received with mixed reviews, but the company had been gearing up to fix its problems even before it was released.

The company last week posted multiple job advertisements for software engineers to work at its Santa Clara Valley, California, offices, specifically for maps, which it claims is "the best mapping program on any mobile platform." The company expects to use the new developers to take its maps application "to the next level, with vector-based Apple Maps, turn-by-turn navigation, and 3D."

Most of the roles are for different skills, but they give a fair idea of what Apple will be focusing on as it assembles its team of software engineers to improve maps.

Some of the new hires will be looking at improving how the app renders 3D flyover models, generates terrain, and renders roads. According to the job description, doing so will require knowledge of C++ and "advanced shader techniques," with an emphasis on getting maps to work on different hardware platforms.

Others will be working on "implementing real-time rendering techniques, creating new and innovative features, solving challenging algorithmic problems, and fixing problems."

Another role listed "finding/fixing performance bottlenecks, creating performance-measuring tools, monitoring performance over time, and solving challenging performance problems" as some of the tasks involved.

Additional success factors for candidates included familiarity with location-based technologies and mobile, and curiously, "a special affinity for teapots and bunnies."

Navigation is also receiving some attention, with Apple hiring developers to help fix issues and enhance performance. In particular, they'll need to have experience implementing routing algorithms, such as Dijkstra and A*, and matching maps with GPS and other location data.

Topics: iOS, Apple, iPhone

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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14 comments
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  • It is all well and good that Apple is taking steps to fix the problems

    and I commend them for that. However, these maps should not have been released until they were right. More so, Google Maps should not have been removed until Apple maps were right. The overall situation is far from pleasing and certainly does not reflect well on Apple and the high standards its customers, like me, expect. If Apple really wants to satisfy its customers, then return the Google Maps app until Apple Maps is working correctly!
    Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • Apple did it right

      There was no other choice for Apple, but to replace the built-in Maps app with one that does not use the Google backend. If you want maps from Google, install an Google Maps app (don't worry, it will come to the App Store when Google are ready).

      The built-in Maps app cannot be replaced by the user and replacing it "later" requires an update to iOS, something that Apple refrains from doing more frequently than necessary.

      In any case, the Apple Maps technology and the Maps app itself are way more advanced than what Google could possibly offer today (and matching what Apple has done requires complete overhaul of Google's Maps technology and backends --- an extremely expensive and unlikely event in the next 2-3 years). It just needs to clean up and enrich the data but that happens at the backend(s), transparently to the users.
      Ironically, even today, the satellite imagery in my country are more up to date on Apple Maps, than on Google Maps (and Earth).. even if some areas are cloudy :)
      danbi
      • advanced my rear end

        Way more advanced in what way? this attempt at mapping is abysmal. Stop defending the indefensible.
        ajs5
    • Contractual Obligations

      The contract date that Google Maps were to expire was fixed and there was simply nothing Apple could do about that. Further, if you know Apple well, their first release of anything is always exactly that; the first release! Examples, "Final Cut Pro & Studio and of course Final Pro X", the maps will be fixed and they will ultimately be competative. That said, if you are buying an iPhone for its maping functions only then you are surely misguided.
      Appreciate-Tech
      • Ya

        Apple could of easily had extended the contract with Googlre but because the two aren't that friendly of late, that wasn't going to happen.
        Apple should of been working on their own map app longer than what they put into this thing. A year [for something as complicated as maps] need more than a year to develop and tune. I suspect Apple didn't do that.
        Gisabun
  • I've heard Apple is using Tom-Tom for most of its navigation data

    I'll try to say this in a non-insulting way, but Tom-Tom isn't that good. I've used one before travelling to North Carolina and there were many places that just weren't on the GPS including the address of the house I was going to. I had to use MapQuest instead.
    Jabe124
  • What about data?

    The current software is not all bad and ha some real bright spots. The FlyOver data (where they have it) makes Google's 3D (evenly limited) look like amateur hour. Likewise, the vector rendering is very fast and caches huge amounts of area.

    The issue is the lack of data and search on the server side. The iOS side is very good. The server speed is very good. The dataset is amazingly weak.

    They need 1000+ monkeys to fix the existing database and start completin it.
    Bruizer
    • That's the easy part

      Filling the existing database with more data is an simple task. A lot of mapping databases exist around the world, many of these way more comprehensive and what is more important, precise, than Google Maps. Google themselves are using these datasets.
      All it takes is some money, and Apple apparently has enough.
      It will happen transparently, or as Apple would put it: magically
      danbi
      • Huh?

        Ok. So you're saying that Apple needs to use mapping databases that are "way more comprehensive and what is more important, precise, than Google Maps."

        But your next sentence says that "Google themselves are using these datasets."

        But they are more precise than what Google uses, right?!?!?
        bbub
      • Huh?

        Seems to me Apple didn't pour money into the map app. Not defening Google, but I don't think the app should of been released right away. But Apple [seems to me] was in a rush to get iOS 6 out in time for the iPhone 5 launch.
        Magically. Ya. right.
        Probably when the 6th or 7th major update or maybe when iOS 7 comes out. :-)
        Gisabun
  • Tom Tom Europe

    Tom Tom is the best data-wise in europe, where Garmin are near worthless, its the exact opposite stateside from what I hear. That said, somehow the iPhone has managed to screw up in various european locations - meaning Apple must be using other providers for this area. That in itself is just plain weird, why would Apple use tomtom/teleatlas in an area its not very strong, then use someone else where tomtom is proper hardcore?

    If Apple used data from Nokia's NavTeq too, that'd fix the issue, thing is the only differentiation it'd have against Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 & Amazon's Kindle would be the 3D images. If mapping was easy why are there only 3 entrants in the industry, Nokia's NavTeq, TomTom's TeleAtlas & Google. Microsoft is aligned with NavTeq having fed it Bing Maps/Virtual Earth and Google itself grabs data from both TomTom & Nokia as well as providing its own StreetView.

    Apple has bitten more off than it can chew here, the iPhone 5 was more of an iterative update rather than something new & shiny, their founder is gone, their prices remain high (in a recession) and 50% of their income comes from the iPhone (whose competitors have caught up) ...I think the apple is starting to rot again (I've seen this before in the mid 90's), hate to see the company making the same mistakes all over again.
    frazelamont
  • Apple Should Have Hired Devs To Fix It BEFORE Releasing It...

    ...instead of after, when the damage has already been done.
    ldo17
  • Hmmmmmm

    Apple is scrambling to fix their map program AFTER it has been released. Hey maybe they should fix Siri as well. At least with iOS 5, it was listed as a beta. who releases beta software inside a retail package - well other than Apple?
    Now Apple will claim that the map program is also in beta - or maybe even an alpha.
    Gisabun
  • Teapots and Bunnies

    Qualified candidates will appreciate the reference to teapots and bunnies. Any self-respecting computer graphics nerd shares this affinity:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Bunny
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_teapot
    Benjamin Cunningham