Mobility

Microsoft enhances Maps app but continues to languish in the mobile market

Microsoft has improved Maps and other apps with mobile-friendly features, but will it be enough to make a difference in sales of Windows 10 smartphones?

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Image: iStockphoto.com/cybrain
As mobile operating systems go, Microsoft Windows 10 works fairly well, but its share of the overall smartphone/tablet device market continues to lag far behind Android and Apple iOS. No matter how many improvements Microsoft makes to Windows 10, it just can't seem to find its footing in the marketplace.

However, that doesn't mean Microsoft has stopped trying. On June 21, 2016, the company announced some significant improvements to the free Windows 10 Maps application. The new features included in the free update should inspire many users to give the app another look, but it may be too little too late.

SEE: Windows 10 U-turn: Microsoft admits upgrade push was "confusing"

Maps

By listening to customer feedback, Microsoft has been able to pinpoint specific improvements, especially with regard to using maps on a mobile device. The interface for the guided driving experience has been modified to allow for easier one-handed operation. The Maps app will even let you know when to exit the bus or subway, so you'll never miss a stop again.

Users can now use Maps to search and store multiple locations. This handy feature will allow you to plan a complete itinerary, whether the trip includes walking, driving, mass transit, or some combination of them all. You'll not only know what route you should take but what points of interest you should look for along the way.

All in all, the improvements made to Maps should be welcomed by regular users of the app and should entice other consumers who have shied away from the Maps app in the past to give it a try. Unfortunately for Microsoft, I am not sure either of those outcomes is enough to move the needle when it comes to the adoption rate of Windows 10 for mobile devices.

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Uphill battle

The improvements to the Windows 10 Maps application, along will all the other improvements Microsoft has made to Windows 10 to make a better, friendlier, and more useful mobile operating system, are all well and good—but apparently they are not enough. Windows 10 continues to languish a distant third behind Android at the top and Apple iOS in second place.

While I applaud Microsoft's efforts to make Windows 10 the best it can be, I remain skeptical that the Windows smartphone will ever grow into more than an afterthought in the mind of the consuming public. For mobile devices, the operating system is not the thing that drives sales—it's the apps. Until Microsoft gets more developers to create more apps for Windows 10, the marketplace is destined to respond to a new and improved Windows 10 with apathy.

SEE: The end is near: Say goodbye to the Windows 10 free upgrade

Bottom line

Microsoft has improved the Maps app in Windows 10 and made it a viable alternative to other free map applications, like Google Maps and Bing Maps. If you have not done so for a while, you might want to check out the new version of Windows 10 Maps.

However, even with the new features, Microsoft is lagging far behind the competition in the smartphone/tablet market. Marginal improvements are not enough. Microsoft will have to do something drastic and notable if it wants to jumpstart Windows 10 as a viable mobile operating system alternative.

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Your thoughts

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About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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