Apple may finally launch bus and subway directions with iOS 9

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Google’s not the only one set on improving its navigation offerings. Sources tell 9to5Mac that Apple plans to launch Transit, a public transportation mapping service, with iOS 9. The company reportedly intended to unveil the feature at WWDC 2014, but showstopping bugs forced the team to pull it at the last second.

Transit, like Google Maps and Nokia Here, will incorporate bus, subway, and train times directly into Apple Maps. A new Transit overlay will join the existing Standard, Hybrid, and Satellite/Flyover views, and transit planning will get its own tweaked interface — sources tell 9to5Mac that Transit will enlarge airport and train station icons for easier viewing while navigating.

Apple’s doing all it can to avoid another Maps fiasco, going so far as to delay Transit even after including it in late internal distributions of iOS 8 last summer. That may’ve been in the Cupertino-based company’s best interest. It’s reportedly managed to resolved the logistical and technical problems that plagued Transit by “[refining] the data, [adding] new cities, and [developing] a new push notifications system that will notify users as new cities gain support,” 9to5Mac reports. A few of those improvements are presumably thanks to the company’s transit app shopping spree two years ago, during which it acquired popular mapping apps Embark, HopStop, and Locationary for undisclosed sums.

In other Apple Maps news, Apple’s high-resolution street images and indoor mapping projects are reportedly humming along. The company’s using specially outfitted vans to capture streetside images, and sources tell 9to5Mac that a new release of Maps, tentatively planned for late this year or next, will include indoor navigation for major buildings, offices, and landmarks. Apple’s apparently relying on iBeacon-equipped, Roomba-like autonomous robots to map interiors — they’re currently in testing around the company’s offices.

In lieu of Transit, Apple’s long been directing users to download third-party services for public transportation directions. With the next major release of iOS, the company might finally move past that interim measure once and for all. We’ll find out for sure at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.

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