In our last post, we discussed Apple Maps indoor mapping feature set and its significant improvement in airport coverage around the world (refer to post). The following insight digs deeper into features that can further improve user experience, third party integration and data reporting.
Apple Maps was introduced in 2012 as part of the iOS 6 upgrades. It served as a replacement to Google Maps in the iOS suite of mobile applications shipped with every new iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The initial approach was to incorporate the best elements from different mapping companies Apple licensed or purchased. The first three years of rollout had its share of challenges with inaccurate information and lack of features. Many users deferred back to leader Google Maps for their primary mapping and destination needs.
Starting with the introduction of iOS 9 in 2015, Apple Maps features began to match or exceed features provided by Google Maps and other competitors. Apple also extended mapping features to other operating systems and interfaces like macOS (desktop), WatchOS (Apple Watch) and CarPlay (overlay inside cars and trucks).
In 2018, Apple decided to rebuild Maps by scratch with the goal to be the best mapping application in the world. One area the company is making big strides is in indoor mapping introduced in 2017 through the iOS 11 upgrade. Malls and airports are two focus areas for indoor mapping. As of January 2019, indoor mapping is available for selective malls in 238 cities and 59 airports around the world.
Features That Matters For The Traveller
When it comes to a traveller, it is not about having every piece of information thrown at them. It is about having accurate and relevant information delivered on a timely basis. This would alleviate anxiety and frustration caused by too much information that is not easily understandable or relevant to their needs.
Heading to the airport: Travellers want to know when they need to head to the airport based on their flight status and whether their mode of transportation need to change based on traffic or other environmental conditions (e.g. weather).
At the airport and arrival: Travellers want to know where and the easily way to check in for flights, go through passenger scanning and to their departure gates. If there is enough time, they would also want to enjoy an airport’s retail elements (e.g. shops, food/beverage) and amenities (e.g. spa, lounges). They would also need assistance if they experience irregular operations (e.g. airport hotel, concessions).
Once they have arrived: Passengers may need information on connections, additional passenger scanning, departure gate or wayfinding to their final destination.
10 Key Apple Maps Features For The Future Traveller
Travellers expect a lot more from their mapping applications than five years ago. While Apple Maps provides some key information useful for travellers, it can be further improved to compete with similar products from Google and LocusLabs. The latter specifically is the leader used by airlines and airports currently. The following are 10 key Apple Maps features that would improve usability and overall experience.
Heading to the Airport
- Enhanced turn by turn direction to the airport with added information not available today (e.g. parking garage, car rental drop off/shuttle service, and ride share drop off points). Parking garage information should include duration (short/long term), costs, electric vehicle plug in options and option to reserve spots in advance. Public transit options should include costs.
At the Airport
- Enhanced turn by turn direction from first contact (e.g. public transit station, car rental drop off, ride sharing drop off) to inside the terminal space (check in desks (as required), screening locations, departure gate or arrival pickup area). This information should include references to distance and real time data (e.g. flight status, terminal train wait time, rental car shuttle travel time, screening time) to allow travellers to plan accordingly.
- Enhanced “nearby” features to include art installations, museums and observation areas. This allows travellers the opportunity to learn more about the airport beyond retail and service options.
- Enhanced turn by turn direction for transfer and connection to another flight (e.g. terminal change information, screening options, new departure gate)
- Include accessibility as part of wayfinding within the airport. This can help travellers with accessibility needs to navigate around the airport with less anxiety.
- Apple Wallet integration that items access to special security lane, airport lounges and hotel shuttle locations can be incorporated as part of wayfinding options in and out of the airport.
- Apple Calendar integration to highlight appointments made for services inside the airport as part of wayfinding options.
- Include more Siri instructions to address travel questions (e.g. “How do I get to gate 23 from here?”, “Where is the closest gift shop?”, “Where is the hotel shuttle bus waiting area?”).
- Third party application integration that include ride sharing options for wayfinding (e.g. Lyft, Uber), loyalty programs for access to airport/airline amenities and buy product in advance (e.g. Grab).
- New customizable report types for airports to collect useful insights. The data can help identify and resolve problem areas sooner.
- Bonus: It would be useful if Apple Maps would notify users on updated map options based on their locations. Most would not have known that their local airport or city is now covered.
Apple Maps has evolved significantly since its introduction more than six years ago. While travellers benefitted with indoor mapping and enhanced wayfinding options, Apple has the opportunity to create an even more cohesive customer experience for travelling in/out and inside the airport. Experience The Skies took an indepth look at 10 key features that would set it apart from the competition.
About Larry Leung and Experience The Skies
Experience The Skies is a consulting company based in Toronto, Canada that specializes in the travel industry with focus on the assessment, competitive analysis and development of loyalty programs, technologies, marketing, ancillary revenue solutions. Follow Experience The Skies on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, and Instagram.