Apple reportedly betting on drones and indoor data to make Maps better

Drones go places cars can't.

Apple has been working to dramatically improve its Maps app ever since it’s botched launch back in 2012. And it’s been successful: Maps is now packed with great features, thanks in part to Apple’s fleet of minivans capturing on-the-ground data. But it’s still not Google Maps, so Apple has a new plan.

According to Bloomberg, the company is reportedly planning to use drones to quickly update Maps with fresh data, like road conditions, street sign changes, and construction updates, and other information that car cameras would have difficulty photographing.

Last fall, Apple applied for permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly its drones for commercial purposes, back when that was restricted. Now the FAA has guidelines in place for commercial drones, but the rules prevent companies from flying drones over buildings or people.

New Maps features coming soon

Apple isn’t just trying to beat Google at its own outdoor mapping game. The company is also trying to compete with indoor mapping, which would let you use your iPhone to find your way around large, busy buildings like airports and museums. The technology comes courtesy of indoor mapping startup Indoor.io, which Apple bought last year.

Apple has been interested in indoor location-tracking for years, using the iBeacon protocol with indoor positioning to allow venues to send notifications when you’re near a physical Bluetooth touchstone (and have Bluetooth turned on with the venue’s app installed). We saw this in action with MLB’s At the Ballpark app at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, back in 2013.

Google Maps already offers indoor maps, and it’s unclear if Apple’s will be more sophisticated or simply on par with the competition. Either way, Apple’s rumored Maps upgrades are significant, and a sign that Tim Cook and co. really are betting big on services—even ones that don’t contribute outright to the company’s bottom line.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags iOS 10Google Mapsdrones

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Caitlin McGarry

Macworld.com
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?