Apple Maps has been the butt of many jokes since its release. When it first replaced Google Maps way back in 2012, it wasn’t uncommon to see Apple Maps recommending a quick detour through a lake or off the side of a cliff to get to your destination. Even though the app has improved dramatically since iOS 6, it’s still no match for Google Maps.
So what could Apple do to give Apple Maps more value? Acquiring Transit would be a great start. Transit provides real-time updates for public transit systems across the country. While you may be saying “Apple Maps does the same thing” (depending on where you live), the truth is that Transit does it a lot better.
Let’s use the MTA, New York City’s public transit system, as an example. Since it’s one of the only transit systems in the world that runs 24 hours a day, maintenance is often performed on nights and weekends. Each week, the MTA publishes a report called “The Weekender” to alert users of station closures and detours. Even though your train may not be running, Apple still recommends an out of service train and simply adds an alert that the train is not running. Transit, on the other hand, uses crowd sourcing (and a guy namedLeo) to update its app to reflect the closures and offer detours.
While Apple Maps looks nice, that’s where the appeal ends. We would love to see Apple integrate data from Transit into future releases of iOS and OS X to create a more robust mapping app that competes with Google Maps.
At first glance, Dish seems like an odd target for Apple. Known primarily for providing satellite television for millions of Americans, Dish would be a huge acquisition for the world’s largest tech company. Valued at over $30 billion dollars, it would also be the largest acquisition ever for Apple. However, Dish would give Apple an advantage on two fronts.
It’s no secret that Apple has attempted to launch live television service for the last several years. In 2015, The Wall Street Journal announced that Apple would launch a live TV service, offering a “slimmed down bundle of TV networks.” Licensing issues appear to have all but stopped the process.
Using Sling TV, Dish Network’s live streaming TV service, to catapult its own Apple branded product would not only allow the company to quickly get the service up and running, but would position it as one of the top players in the market. With a current subscriber base of more than 13 million, Dish would allow Apple to start its service with a consistent revenue stream that would allow it to further develop its lineup for multiple devices and platforms. Users would be able to easily update their channels in the App Store using Face ID or Touch ID and be able to transfer their services easily using Apple TV.
While Dish would be an attractive acquisition target for its live TV service alone, it has another trick up its sleeve. Over the past decade, Dish has aggressively purchased wireless spectrum from the FCC. A significant portion of this spectrum could be used to create an IoT network, something Dish is exploring. Apple could leverage this spectrum to make it a leader in connected home technology, offering a secure, private network that works with HomePod and other devices.
Hear us out on this one. Pinterest would be an excellent acquisition target for Apple, not just for its social media platform, but for its fledgling AI technology.
It’s long been rumored that Apple is interested in creating a social media network. Earlier this year, Apple Insider reported that Apple may be building an ad-free premium social network. Acquiring Pinterest’s platform of more than 150 million, largely active millennial users, would allow the company to kick its plans into high gear at a relatively low entry cost (last year Motley Fool estimated Pinterest was worth approximately $11 billion dollars).
Apple already uses artificial intelligence and machine learning throughout iOS, but Google made a significant leap in computer vision and object recognition this year when it introduced Google Lens. Google Lens combines the power of AI with your smartphone camera to identify objects and provide contextual recommendations and actions based upon the object.
Right now, Apple has no comparable feature. Pinterest Lens could allow Apple to quickly create a similar experience for iPhone users, while pairing it with a social media platform. Pinterest Lens works much like Google Lens but provides more personalized recommendations based on your own pins and likes. Apple could easily bake this technology into future versions of iOS and OS X, not only creating a Google Lens-like feature, but also integrating it into Photos and other apps to allow easy cataloging and sharing on its social media platform.
Yelp seems like a somewhat obvious acquisition target for Apple. Its reviews are featured in Apple Maps and it’s already integrated into the iMessage app drawer. Developing and refining these features into future version of iOS and OS X, however, could allow users to use this information in a variety of different ways across multiple apps.
Yelp can be a little annoying. On mobile, you need to download the app and create a login to get the most out of it. For the casual user, it seems like a lot of trouble. If Apple purchased Yelp, the features could be baked into iOS and OS X and allow users to link reviews to their iCloud accounts. The service could also be further built into iMessage and Calendar to to provide location-based suggestions when texting or scheduling appointments. Users could also pin reviewed locations and corresponding photos to the Apple Maps app.
The Weather app is one that doesn’t get a lot of attention. The design hasn’t changed much over the years, and it gathers information from The Weather Channel. While it gets the job done, it’s pretty basic and can sometimes be not very accurate.
Dark Sky is one of the most popular weather apps in the App Store. While no one at Dark Sky is a meteorologist, they manage to provide extremely accurate, up-to-the-minute forecasts. How do they do it? Well, the company uses machine learning and neural nets to discern good data from NOAA and other weather services from noise.
Both elegant and informative, Dark Sky seems like the perfect target for Apple. The app could easily be rebranded for iOS 12. It could also provide added value to other Mac and iOS services. For example, Apple Maps could automatically recommend routes with less walking and fewer transfers for commuters during inclement weather.