Apple might finally be adding a long-awaited public transit navigation tool in Apple Maps, the company’s mapping service heavily criticized for its direction problems when it launched in 2012.
Apple filed a patent called “Location Based-Features for Commute Assistant,” a function providing directions on buses, subways and trains, according to a patent it was awarded Thursday. The patent describes basic features closely resembling those offered by Google Maps, along with the ability for users to pinpoint specific spots for the route to include.
Still, Apple’s filing doesn’t mean such a feature is definitely coming to Apple Maps — companies routinely file for patents without incorporating the included ideas in any of their products.
Apple’s new patent arrives after the company acquired Embark and Hotspot last year, two popular services offering mass transportation directions. Apple bought both companies shortly before filing for the public transit direction patent in November 2013.
While Apple Maps initially suffered from faulty driving directions — paths allegedly included airport taxiways, for example — the service managed a strong rebound from its initial flop. In June, there were 42 million American adults using Apple Maps, compared to 64.5 million using Google Maps, according to comScore, numbers likely helped by Apple Maps’ status as the default map app in iOS.