Apple flipped the switch for Apple Maps Japan ‘new maps’ with Look Around for Tokyo and other locations in greater Osaka and Nagoya, and vastly improved 2.0 map details nationwide. During the initial rollout users outside of Japan may not see all the changes. Initial navigation tests indicate turn by turn incorporates the new date for better directions. Siri also seems to have gained improved guidance with finer details: turn left, walk over the bridge, etc. Taken altogether, the new maps, improved Siri guidance, the new higher quality Japanese Siri voices and other Siri improvements make iOS 14 a very nice upgrade.
Tokyo area parks like Shinjuku Gyoen and Yoyogi are packed with new Apple Maps 2.0 details. A quick examination reveals Look Around is pretty much limited to roadside views. Major walking data collection efforts are still ongoing across Japan through October and will be very important in rounding out both the feature set and improving navigation in later updates.
It looks like the Apple Maps team worked very hard to get this major update ready in time for the, now postponed, Tokyo Olympics. It’s great that Apple Maps Japan users can enjoy the benefits of the effort and the fact Japan is the first country outside of the USA to get Look Around and new Apple Maps 2.0 data.
Look Around Impressions and Reactions
The Japanese online reaction to Look Around has been largely positive. People seem impressed with the quality, the level of detail and the ease of use compared with Google Maps Japan Street View. The biggest complaints are, ‘I want it in my area too’, a good complaint to have, and ‘this street data is already out of date’, which is not. Things move quickly in Tokyo, the Japanese Look Around imagery is from 2019 and people already notice the age.
Tokyo in particular has a lot of rebuilding going on in residential areas. I don’t know if this is because of the Olympics or cheap interest rates, but everywhere I see yet another building with scaffolding going up around it for demolition or makeover. Keeping Look Around up to date in Tokyo will be a challenge.
From my own tests I see lots of side roads in Tokyo residential areas have yet to be mapped, and I still see evidence of long standing Apple Maps Japan data problems, in particular the weak Increment P supplied data. Even with all the great new image collection, ground truth checks will be a problem: it can’t be done with AI or from a car, and Increment P simply does’t have the manpower or quality to do it. This is where Zenrin would be a huge help, a ground truth human team with no equal. Having Zenrin on board instead of Increment P would really truly make Apple Maps Japan, the dope choice.