Why the iPhone doesn’t have audible turn-by-turn directions

By , Jun 8, 2012

Thanks to my years in wireless sales, I can honestly say I’ve tried out more than my fair share of smartphones. The carrier I worked for made us try a new handset every 90 days to ensure that we were all well-versed in our craft.

But out of all of the devices I played with and carried, none were able to woo me away from the iPhone. In fact, the only non-iOS feature that I have ever really lusted after was Android’s ability to give audible turn-by-turn directions…

I’ve often wondered why Apple has continued to omit this seemingly crucial element from its Maps application. Surely it couldn’t be a matter of know-how, or money. So what’s the problem?

Today, BusinessInsider claims to have found the answer in a conversation with former astronaut and Google employee Dr. Ed Lu. During his tenure with the search giant, Lu gathered data for its Maps and Earth products.

“Lu said that Google couldn’t include turn-by-turn directions on Android phones until it had control of its own mapping database. The companies that provide databases wouldn’t let Google do it, because it was threat to their business.

Likewise, when Apple wanted to get access to the data to do its own thing with maps, Google was equally difficult.

Lu cautioned that he wasn’t directly involved in conversations between Apple and Google, and his information was “third hand,” but he said Apple’s relationship with Google deteriorated over what Apple wanted to do with Google maps. He wouldn’t provide more details on what Apple wanted to do.”

The theory makes sense, right? I mean if I’m Google, and I know that spoken turn-by-turn directions is a major feature in Android, I don’t want to just give it away to Apple to use on their competing platform.

But that’s where the new Maps application comes in. Word on the street is that Apple is finally putting all of those mapping software company acquisitions to good use, and plans to unveil an all-new, all-Apple Maps application at WWDC next week.

While this doesn’t mean that we’ll for sure see audible turn-by-turn directions right away, it does mean that Apple will finally have total control over the application. And once that’s the case, pretty much anything will be possible.

Is it just me, or is anyone else crossing their fingers that Apple announces audible turn-by-turn directions in the new iOS Maps app next week?

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • http://twitter.com/Max_Kas Max Kaslick

    It would be nice but not a feature that I would need. With plenty of GPS apps in the AppStore and the default maps applications showing you directions, (just not turn by turn), I don’t think this is a game changing feature.

    If i need to have accurate turn by turn, (like in the downtown of a city), i’d rather have an actual GPS or look at the directions beforehand than rely on bouncing cell signal.
    Not to mention data/battery usage

    • forumiphone

      it ıs the selling poınt of nokıas because they comes with turn by turn all country for free ıt ıs indeed a game changer feature and ı always want that feature ı paıd 15.99 for gps and lıked always used for travel ıf you dont travel a lot maps better for you ı thınk

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connor-Frye/1326652893 Connor Frye

      Most average users dont buy the gps apps though. Basically everyone who doesnt look up iphone news wouldnt buy expensive apps.

  • Aric Bolf

    This is an exciting story for me to read! [crossing fingers]

    And i agree with your logic of TBTN will be coming.

  • rohta

    I believe all iOS devices owners are crossing fingers about audible turn-by-turn directions in iOS 6.
    iOS 5 maps app is just embedded google maps and cannot be even compared with Android Navigation app.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001613835308 Paul Smith

      And when they finally do have TURN BY TURN AND 3D maps it will be a revoultio! LOL

  • chrispx

    I recommend downloading Waze for free which offers turn-by-turn directions. If you own a jailbroken iPhone 4S,  pay $2 and get AssistantLove.  You can ask Siri for directions and it can open Waze and provide them instead of opening the default Maps app.

  • Carlos Santamarina

    Waze is a free application that you can download for the iphone that provides EXCELLENT voice navigation features, perspective map. I highly recommend it!

    • Appletiser

      Waze may be ‘excellent’ for you but because it mostly relies on a user generated database it proved to be highly unreliable for me .. for example, i wanted a destination that hadn’t been added or mapped into the database so the app couldn’t navigate me there. ultimately i can see it’s great potential but it needs to be as 100% reliable as my tomtom is :)

      • QuarterSwede

        It works better in larger cities for sure. For the area I live in it’s more accurate than most other map apps because users update it constantly.

  • http://twitter.com/damiendamore Damien D’Amore

    i don’t see this as a issue since MapQuest has it and is free . also ironic they just updated there app with major overhaul.

    • QuarterSwede

      To be honest, MapQuest4mobile’s new UI is fantastic for a free application. The directions are very large and turns are clearly marked. It’s so good I don’t mind it not having a 3D view now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SpideyRules Scott Curry

    I was one of the idiots that paid for the TomTom app before I heard about Waze, but oh well. Yes, this IS still a feature I look forward to, but they have to ensure it can compete with real-time traffic, etc.

    I’m also excited to see what sort of tweaks can be developed for it.

  • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

    Got TomTom on my 4S. Can’t live without it.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidBarajasJr David Barajas

    I have numerous paid navigation apps for the iPhone and I still prefer the free one on Android. As for the battery. It’s in the car so I just use my car charger. Waze is ok most of the time. I hope Apple adds the turn by turn navigation.

  • Kempi

    How about we just look for the rock with the green stuff at the side…that should point us in the right direction..

  • seyss

    I remember Forstall saying in an old WWDC that they cant implement turn by turn audio due to “licensing issues”.

    Dunno why all rumors about the cause since Apple explained already.

  • http://twitter.com/Jdhonse Joe Honse

    I can’t remember ever opening the maps app on my 4S. I bought the Navigon app by Garmin a couple years ago, and LOVE it. So, that being said, this makes me no difference. But, I think it will be great for iOS ecosystem.

  • http://twitter.com/klouud Timothy Polumbo

    With the intro of 4G, we should be to the point where you can at least get Edge pretty much anywhere. With that being said, a turn by turn solution for iPhone is a must. I know this is one of my biggest requests out of iOS, but like Max K. commented – we already have tons of apps that do this. I personally use Waze. It works great and its free.

    What we really need in iOS is for 3rd party dev’s to get clearance to develop plug ins for the OS much like jailbreak dev’s do.

    Apple needs to open up functionality of the OS and allow us to make iOS into whatever we need on an individual basis.

    I personally don’t need much – just a tweak here, a tweak there, and a completely different UI and icon set — and I’m happy.

    tim

  • http://www.way2hype.com 1976Hoosiers

    I would love native turn by turn directions…in the meantime if you jailbreak your iPhone you can use an awesome tweak called assistant love and motion x gps drive. If you have a 4S using siri to get you turn by turn directions is heaven! I definitely recommend this solution until the new maps drop.

    Sidenote: AssistantLove allows you to use tomtom, navigon or waze as well

  • No Whammy

    Google Maps is the gold standard for mapping. I’m really disappointed the two couldn’t come to a better agreement. Luckily, once Google Maps stops shipping with the iPhone, they’ll be able to upgrade their app instead of it sitting dormant since the iPhone debuted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=563922792 John Horton

    Being a big fan of Waze, I really hope apple doesn’t get all “similar features ” on 3rd party devs and start pulling perfectly good apps. It’s not likely but I’m not putting anything past the lawyers.

  • http://twitter.com/Amyescence D.

    Well I got to confess! I live in a small (but VERY crowded) island and I still get to manage to get lost so you can say I’m one of those who use the map app often when I drive so it would be nice to have turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone. That way it’s safer for me to just drive and hear the directions as I go instead of looking away at the phone every 2 minutes.

  • http://twitter.com/SgtBlackDude Jerry Slanger

    If u are on Verizon, use Verizon Navigator for turn by turn. Works wonderfully!

  • sasan akbari

    I agree.
    But i don’t think that apple would make something like that.
    Apple is just working on simple things,nothing advanced ! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/HarshSachanandani Harsh Sac

    It would be great but should be a kill-switch to turn on/0ff

  • 2008crna

    It is a game changer because I use Google maps to find my destination and then the jailbreak tweak “navigate from maps” to open Navigon to navigate there with turn by turn directions. I would love an integrated maps app that avoids the multiple steps. Not to mention I have paid for all current apps/tweaks I mentioned. I hate Navigon for some of its wrong voice directions (mixes up left and right so you have to keep an eye on the screen) but it is the best option for a non-subscription GPS that stores the maps ob your iPhone.

  • http://twitter.com/NorthernRants Bill Buck

    Turn by Turn is the only thing that keeps me from going iPhone from my 2 year old Droid X.

  • http://twitter.com/Iamcorrect Lono

    not having any decent navigation is why I still don’t have an iPhone. I use that application daily. My sprint phone comes with 2 free excellent navigation apps.