Since its launch in 2012, Apple Maps has come a long way yet has not been able to surpass its rival Google Maps which is why now it has decided to hop drones on its mission.
Apple has got approval from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use drones for data collection. The drones will be flown overhead and capture critical street information, including signs and traffic changes during which it will capture photos, videos and other traffic data.
The tech giant has also acquired startup Indoor.io for indoor navigation features, like views inside buildings, to improve its Map service and catch longtime leader Google. It is said that the company will also make improvements to car navigation.
Drone capture could prove important to Apple AAPL -0.93% as it works to improve its Maps application running on iOS and MacOS devices. After capturing the data from streets both in the U.S. and abroad, it can then be transmitted back to Apple’s team and its information uploaded to the Apple Maps servers. The drones would replace the existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans to collect data.
According to Bloomberg’s report, Apple is said to want to use the drones to examine street signs, monitor road changes as well as see if areas are under construction.
Apple, like Google and Microsoft's Bing, currently uses cars equipped with cameras and sensors to travel and record mapping data. By switching to drones the company could conceivably record this data faster and thus more quickly update and improve Maps.
Apple's move toward drones isn't indicative of any future commercial drone plans. Apple has planned to use drones from manufacturers such as DJI and Aibotix.
The Cupertino, California-based company was vastly criticized when it had launched the Maps four years ago for having inaccurate information and poor driving directions following which its CEO, Tim Cook had apologized and suggested users try out other options like Google Maps which was previously bundled with Apple’s mobile operating system. Apple lacked the technology needed to quickly suck in data from many different sources to evaluate and change the digital maps.
Since then, Apple has made strides towards improving the app’s accuracy and data and has added more information, including traffic and transit data. Over the years, it had included Street View feature which lets users see images of addresses but it is still considered inferior to Google Maps.
Looking ahead, Apple could possibly hit the market with its new improved mapping system sometime next year along with a tool which would tell users when and where to change lanes during navigation.