Apple knows its Maps application isn't up to snuff, and it's taking the matter seriously with a totally rebuilt app. When Maps first launched, the app used third-party data to provide the basis for the critical "maps" element of Maps, but now, Apple is taking full ownership and building the map data.
Tech Crunch reported last Friday that Apple will use first-party data collected by iPhones and new Apple vans to rebuild Maps. It's a route the Cupertino, California-based company almost decided on years ago before handing off responsibilities to partners such as TomTom and OpenStreetMap. Apple tried to patch together a better experience after Maps' botched rollout, but ultimately, the service never compared to rival applications.
Part of the rebuilding will see Apple collect its own data, own it, and ensure privacy. The company also has an ace up its sleeve: over one billion devices running iOS to provide crucial data on changing roadways, construction, and other elements that go into building a competent navigation service. Executives said to expect great accuracy, faster map updates, and ease of use for pedestrian and transit navigation.
The project has actually been in the works for four years as that is when Apple began to develop its data-gathering systems.
Back to the Apple vans: they're not simple rigs. The company has fixed the vans with a powerful GPS rig, four lidar arrays, and a physical measuring tool to precisely capture images. The equipment feeds the images and data to a Mac Pro and fills up countless solid state drives. When full, they're encrypted and sent to Apple's data center to be scrubbed of privacy-invading elements, such as faces and license plates, and Maps 2.0 grows smarter.
Not only will the maps have greater accuracy, they will include such information as ground cover, foliage, swimming pools, and pedestrian pathways.
Apple won't roll out an updated Maps app for every user all it once. Instead, it plans to launch in the San Francisco Bay Area this week and then spread to Northern California along with the launch of iOS 12. Eventually, every device will benefit from more detailed maps, images, and a better search function. Perhaps soon Google and Waze won't be de facto choices any longer.