How traffic routing apps can lend their services system-wide in iOS 6

In addition to sourcing maps data in iOS 6 from fifteen different companies, Apple also allows traffic routing apps from third-parties to lend their services to the entire system by way of new APIs.

And since Apple’s Maps app knows about routing apps in the App Store, it’ll give users a choice to download them when needed. This is making good on Apple’s promise that it will partner with third-party developers on Maps transit directions “where it makes sense”

AppleInsider spotted this in Apple’s release notes accompanying the latest iOS 6 Beta, which was released to registered developers at WWDC.

Apps that offer routing information, such as turn-by-turn navigation services, can now register as a routing app and make those services available to the entire system. 

Routing apps are not limited to just driving or walking directions.

Routing apps can also include apps that provide directions for the user’s favorite bicycle or hiking trail, for air routes, and for subway or other public transportation lines.

This also means that other programs that lack own maps support can tap the power of Apple’s in-house Maps app and third-party transit support. It’s not clear whether routing features provided by other apps are integrated right within the Maps app.

As Jeff highlighted in his video overview of the new Maps, the combination of Siri integration, turn-by-turn navigation and three-dimensional Flyover views (sadly, no Street View) makes the new Maps “leaps and bounds above anything offered in iOS Google Maps” and definitely “Apple’s most compelling upgrade to iOS”.

Of course teething problems are expected with such a massive undertaking. Looking at the big picture, the new Maps in iOS 6 is part of Apple’s broad de-Googlification of iOS.

We learned yesterday that Apple could also be using Bing Maps images from Microsoft.

According to Apple’s legal notice for Maps, the company sources various maps data from a total of fifteen companies, including TomTom, Waze, Getchee, Localeze, Urban Mapping, DMTI, MapData Sciences, DigitalGlobe, InterMap and LeadDog, to name a few.

In hindsight, Garmin CEO made a huge mistake by dissing cell phones back in 2003 as “the kind of commodity business we would like to avoid” as his company missed an opportunity to partner with Cupertino.

iOS boss Scott Forstall surprised the WWDC crowd by stressing that Apple doesn’t want to be the Jack of all trades:

When building Maps, we looked around and realized the best transit apps for metros, for hiking, for biking, are coming from our developers. And so instead of trying to develop those ourselves, we are going to integrate and feature and promote your apps for transit right within the Maps app in iOS 6.

It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of exposure the enabling transit apps would get in iOS 6 apart from direct links to the App Store, but Apple undoubtedly will shed more light on this as iOS 6 approaches its fall release date.

As Apple tends to control everything, this change of heart is kinda surprising, no?