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Apple widely expanding 'ground truth' recruiting for Maps
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Jul 31, 2013, 10:18 PM
Continuing the company's commitment to make its own Maps program the equal or better of any other, Apple has posted over three dozen new job postings on its website seeking "ground truth" verification and software engineering specialists for locations all over the world. The expansion follows hiring for "ground truth" staff back in February to help the company make its maps of rural Australia more accurate. Apple also recently acquired two mapping companies -- Locationary, which specialized in business listings, and HopStop for transit data.

The listings include jobs in Paris, Milan, Seoul, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Instanbul, Moscow, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Prague, Cork (Ireland), Mexico City, Santiago, Munich, Auckland, Barcelona, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Montreal, Abu Dhabi, Haifa, Hong Kong, London, Warsaw, Sydney (Australia) and US cities New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington DC. Some of the positions are for "regional managers" rather than "local experts," but all require applicants to have "a passion for mapping, great testing skills, and deep regional knowledge" including a demonstrated understanding of the "unique features of your local area, including preferred place names, prominent businesses, public services, seasonal events, driving routes, landmarks and road names."

The job description goes on to say that candidates "will be responsible for the quality assessment of Apple Maps for your region, including both data and map services. You will monitor changes to our maps, provide feedback on unique local map requirements, collect ground truth information, and evaluate competing products." It asks that applicants have a bachelor's degree or equivalent and prior experience in quality assurance.

Although Apple Maps has improved by leaps and bounds since its initial, error-prone launch that gained it a reputation for graphical flaws, mislabelled or misplaced locations and other problems, the new hires demonstrate a continuing commitment to building the program up to and even surpassing the standards of its competitors, most notably Google Maps. Apple was forced to enter the map business when Google -- which had been supplying the map data for the previous Maps program on iOS -- refused to incorporate advanced features present in the Android version, such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration and traffic conditions.

As Apple's in-house efforts improved, Google rushed to create an iOS 6-compatible version of its own Maps app that had all the features Apple had tried to license, despite a flurry of denials that later turned out to be false. The poor initial launch of Apple's own Maps is thought to be the main reason for the dismissal of former SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall, and prompted an unusual apology from CEO Tim Cook, along with a pledge to bring the program up to Apple's standards. Nearly a year later, Maps already routinely beats Google's offering in driving head-to-head competitions, but still receives criticism primarily for its lack of transit and walking directions as well as some remaining weakly-documented areas.

Apple may be planning to re-launch Maps entirely alongside its arrival on the Mac with the coming of OS X Mavericks. A new feature highlighted to developers was the ability of the OS X Maps to send results created on the desktop to other iOS devices through cloud syncing, and the option of including this ability and other features in third-party apps. While unique Apple features like Flyover have been well-received, Google's "Street View" feature is considered more popular among users, along with the advertising giant's "Google Now" predictive mapping (based on the route or direction of travelling) -- the latter of which has been seen in an Apple version in recent betas of iOS 7.

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Aug 1, 2013, 01:23 AM
Huge surprise. Zero updates in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada matches the number of people Apple has on the ground mapping Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
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Aug 1, 2013, 06:42 PM
It's not my job to defend Apple, and I happen to like Edmonton a lot, but let's remember that there are priorities. Countries like Canada provide excellent mapping services through your fine government -- and while not perfect do cover all the basics very well (I've used Apple Maps in Edmonton and not gotten lost). So it's conceivable and understandable that places like Edmonton may be further down on the list than places where available GIS isn't up to Canada's par. Also, let's bear in mind that Canada is a HUGE FRICKIN' PLACE that will be extremely challenging to cover thoroughly.

Obviously if Apple wants its Maps program to be as good as or better than Google's, they'll have to cover everywhere. But it can't be done instantaneously. Google didn't do it overnight either -- they just have a huge lead. Given the clear commitment Apple has made to Maps, I'm confident they will get to all corners of Edmonton eventually -- even the little outlying suburbs like St. Albert or Gibbons.
Charles Martin
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Aug 2, 2013, 03:30 AM
Yes, Canada is huge.

However, we all got together and agreed a couple of years ago that the VAST majority of us would live together in area's known as "cities". There aren't a lot of us here, so there aren't a lot of these so-called "cities" to map...
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Aug 4, 2013, 12:48 AM
Ground truth? I've been telling the truth all along in my numerous advisories on errors in Apple maps, but none has been fixed. My favorite is the local shopping center identified as a medical center. Since Apple maps was released a medical center opened across the street, but Apple maps knows nothing about it. Google Maps picked up the new medical center within a few days of its official opening. Time for Apple to give up on its lousy maps and go to Google, hat in hand, and beg for forgiveness for dissing Google maps.
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