Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Apple has pledged to make significant changes to its mapping services in China, nearly 18 months after launching the product. Apple Maps received negative feedback worldwide following its release in 2012, but the glitches and issues were most prominent in China — and even included a geopolitical blunder.
But Apple hopes the problems will soon become a thing of the past. Speaking at the company’s annual WWDC event, Craig Federighi, Apple SVP of software engineering, said the new iOS 8 mobile platform would include “greatly improved maps” for China, including the release of vector maps in the country for the first time.
Maps is a hotly competitive space in China, and it’s not wonder Apple is making improvements. Alibaba spent over $1 billion buying Autonavi, the software that powers Apple Maps, and it has plans to turn that mapping experience into something akin to a browser, with links to its e-commerce empire. Not to be outdone, fierce rival Tencent bought 10 percent of NavInfo for $187 million, as it brings better mapping to its popular WeChat app.
Apple is increasing its efforts to attract new users in China, especially after it finally secured a partnership to offer its devices via China Mobile, the world’s largest operator.
Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that half of the iOS devices bought in China over the last 12 months were sold to customers who switched over from Android. Apple adding more features to boost its local appeal — iOS 8 will include support for the lunar calendar, while Apple claims users will see improvements to local weather data and better Chinese language input.
Related: Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2014 in one handy list
Image via Lintao Zhang / AFP / Getty Images
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