June 11, 2012 at 3:08 PM ET
Apple unveiled its own turn-by-turn navigation, with virtual voice assistant Siri giving the directions, and 3-D views as part of the upgrades in its iOS 6 mobile operating system announced Monday.
The company's own mapping application had been expected as a way for it to challenge Google Maps, considered by many to be one of the most important apps on the iPhone. In Apple's ongoing war with Google, Google Maps may soon be a distant memory, especially once iOS 6 comes out this fall.
"In iOS 6, we have built an entire new mapping solution from the ground up, and it is beautiful," said Apple senior vice president Scott Forstall.
All Apple's new worldwide maps are vector-based; you can zoom in and out, rotate, see buildings in 3-D appear and disappear as part of what's being called the "Flyover" feature.
Noted Brian Barrett, Gizmodo editor, as he blogged during Apple's presentation at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco: "This is the part of the demo where everyone on Google's geo team breaks out the Pepcid."
Traffic will be monitored in real time, with your estimated time of arrival updated dynamically. If there's major construction work or an accident on the freeway, and you need to be re-routed, you'll get a pop-up notification on your iOS device about that.
The new Maps app "turn-by-turn navigation guides you to your destination with spoken directions, and the amazing Flyover feature has photo-realistic interactive 3-D views," Apple said in a news release.
The company's local search — can you hear them now, Google? — includes information for more than 100 million businesses with "info cards that offer Yelp ratings, reviews, available deals and photos," the company said.
Apple has spent years "preparing to take mapping back," as Reuters noted recently.
The company is using technology from companies it has acquired specifically for that purpose, including 3-D mapping company C3 Technologies.
Last week, anticipating Apple's likely announcement, Google showed off its mapping capabilities that include soon-to-be-launched 3-D features.
Siri gets a step-up in her duties, and will be the voice users hear when getting guided directions.
"You can just ask Siri to take you somewhere, and you're on your way," said Forstall during Monday's presentation.
You'll also be able to ask Siri, as you're driving, where the nearest places are to get fuel.