On a recent trip to Charleston for vacation, I continued what has by now been a longstanding practice of mine — a reliance on Google Maps to both navigate wherever I travel to (in this case the picturesque South Carolina town) and to do everything from check restaurant and business information, read reviews, and pull up numbers for a quick tap-to-call after I’ve read a bit about them. All from right there within the app that’s become so indispensable to me and millions of other users, never mind that its stated primary purpose is, well, offering navigation data. Apple, meanwhile, is trying hard to make its own mapping product competitive with Google’s, thanks in part to a comprehensive redesign of Apple Maps that was unveiled at the end of January.
The new features that update brought include Collections, which lets Apple Maps users build, save, and share lists of places they want to visit next, landmarks they want to check out on a vacation, and favorite restaurants, among other things. And along those same lines — of rolling out new features that are only barely related to the act of navigating from Point A to Point B — it seems that Apple is also planning to make a new hire as part of expanding editorial content and recommendations offered within Apple Maps.
An official Apple job listing spotted this week (h/t The Verge) found that Apple is looking to bring on a “Product Manager — Maps, Writer/Editor” who would be based in Culver City, California, and would, according to the since-deleted listing, “help build and grow a brand-new content category for the Apple Maps team.” Whoever is hired for the role would also help Apple “build exciting and engaging editorial content to help Maps users explore their world.”
Apple may have taken down the posting because the position has now been filled — or maybe because the listing inadvertently revealed too much about new features coming to Apple Maps. Regardless, this is precisely the kind of move Apple needs to make and the skill sets it needs in Apple Maps employees for the app to have a prayer of competing with Google Maps. As the job listing itself noted, “Mapping products are evolving beyond being primarily point-to-point vehicle navigation to becoming location-based services platforms that help one make sense of the physical world.”
No wonder the key qualifications listed for this position include “insatiable curiosity” for discovering new places, a passion for storytelling, and a deep knowledge of food, travel and shopping trends.
When I travel to a new city, recommendations are always one of the first things I turn to, so when you couple an offering like this within Apple Maps with the new redesign that makes usage faster and navigation more accurate, you have the making of a pretty robust mapping product. Now, will it be enough to make it superior to Google’s or to convince Google Maps loyalists like me to switch teams? The jury’s definitely still out on that one.