A new report claims that Apple has acquired a local data startup as part of its latest effort to improve its Maps application on the iPhone and iPad. According to AllThingsD, Apple has come to an agreement with Locationary to both buy the company’s technology and hire its team. The Toronto-based startup is described as a “Wikipedia for local business listings.” The company uses crowdsourcing information, along with a federated data exchange platform to “collect, merge and continuously verify a massive database of information on local businesses around the world.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. An Apple spokesperson told AllThingsD that “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
A recently published patent suggests that Apple is interested in improving its Maps application for iOS with the help of its loyal iPhone users. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application for a method of generating travel directions based on crowd-sourced traffic data that will provide users with information in real-time about road conditions. The technology is similar to features offered by Waze, which Apple unsuccessfully attempted to acquire earlier this year according to a report. The system would allow travelers to flag potential road hazards such as heavy traffic, accidents and power outages, which will be used to warn and reroute other drivers. Users would also be given more driving route choices, including the option to take scenic routes in order to avoid traffic or construction zones.
An Apple (AAPL) patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday suggests that the company may be looking to create a navigation system based on panoramic imagery, similar to Google’s (GOOG) “Street View” technology. The “3D Position Tracking for Panoramic Imagery Navigation” patent describes a graphical user interface that utilizes the onboard sensors in the iPhone or iPad to navigate panoramic location data. Unlike the Street View technology found in Google Maps, Apple’s system will use data from the accelerometer, cameras, gyroscope and other sensors to automatically move a user through a street-level image. More →
Apple (AAPL) is looking for all the help it can get to fix its iOS Maps service. AppleInsider points us to some new job postings on Apple’s website that are seeking 10 software engineers to work on its Maps team. As the report notes, nine of the engineers “will handle various programming duties, while one will be assigned to tackle navigation.” In its job posting, Apple says that its iOS Maps app is the “best mapping program on any mobile platform,” despite the fact that CEO Tim Cook formally apologized for the app after widespread complaints about its poor quality.
There was simply no way that Samsung (005930) could resist pouncing on Apple’s (AAPL) latest Maps disaster that left several Australians stranded in the middle of a national park with no access to food or water. CNET Australia reports that Samsung’s always-creative marketing team has posted a new display on Sydney’s George Street featuring a mud-soaked SUV surrounded by several pieces of ragged camping equipment. Next to the vehicle is a sign that reads, “Oops, should have got a Samsung Galaxy S III. Get navigation you can trust.” Samsung has produced several advertisements mocking Apple over the past year, including a spot making fun of iPhone fans waiting in line outside of Apple stores that was recently named the top tech ad of 2012.
It can’t be said enough times: iPhone users who rely on Apple (AAPL) Maps do so at their own peril. Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica notes that although Apple has fixed the mistake in its Maps application that left several Australians stranded in the middle of a national park with no access to food or water, the app may still have an untold number of deadly errors waiting to crop up. The reason for this is Apple’s decision to rely on third-party data for its Maps application, which has left it vulnerable to having either outdated or flat-out incorrect information about various locations around the world. More →
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple (AAPL) has fired the executive in charge of its flawed mapping service. The Cupertino-based company was reportedly upset with Richard Williamson for his role in the Apple Maps fiasco, which is said to have hurt the debut of the iPhone 5. This is now the second executive that has been let go following the launch of Apple’s in-house mapping service. It was revealed last month that Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS, had been forced out of the company, leaving Eddie Cue in charge of the Maps department. Cue is said to be seeking advice from “outside mapping-technology experts” and is pressuring TomTom to fix landmark and navigational information in the data it shares with Apple. The company does not have a replacement for Williamson as of yet, however Cue is reportedly looking to create a new leadership team for the group.
Apple (AAPL) has been taking some major heat as of late for its decision to remove Google Maps from iOS 6. The Cupertino-based company chose to instead incorporate its own in-house mapping service into the platform and has faced harsh criticism as a result. Although Apple is actively improving its own maps app, many people still prefer the old Google (GOOG)-powered solution. Previously, users would have to use Google’s mobile mapping site to access the company’s data, but a new app gives iOS 6 users direct access to the old mapping features and doesn’t even require a device to be jailbroken. ClassicMap offers Google’s mapping data and delivers a nearly identical look and feel as the old iOS 5 app. Unfortunately, even though users will have access to more accurate information, the app doesn’t include built-in turn-by-turn directions like Apple’s app does. Users have also noted that the app is a bit slower than the original and the app had a lot of trouble finding local results to simple searches during our tests. ClassicMap is free, however, and hopefully the developer works out the kinks soon since there’s no telling when Google might finally have its own iOS 6 app ready. More →
When Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook said his team was working non-stop to to improve the decidedly subpar iOS 6 Maps app, he wasn’t kidding. Several MacRumors forum members are reporting that Apple’s quickly correcting some of its botched 3D Flyover views including the now-famous invisible Statue of Liberty. MacRumors says that imagery improvements have been reported in Honolulu, Hawaii; San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles; New York City and London. Additional 3D buildings in vector mode are also popping up. The Apple rumors website also states that users who don’t see the immediate changes will see them in the near future as “aggressive caching” is holding the roll out from hitting everyone. BGR has confirmed the improved Statue of Liberty an additional 3D vector buildings is present on at least on iPhone 5 device. Apple is reportedly prepping a program that will train retail staff employees to help report errors in cities where Apple Stores are located. More →
Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook might have issued a heartfelt apology for the subpar new Maps app, but look on the bright side: Apple’s vector graphics-based app is actually up to five times more data efficient than Google’s (GOOG) raster graphics-based iOS Maps app, according to a new analysis from Onavo. By using vector graphics, Apple’s Maps app doesn’t need to re-download map images every time a user adjusts the view leading to less data consumption. More →
There’s a reason why Google (GOOG) employs more than 7,000 people to work on its Maps application: Because making a top-notch maps app is extremely difficult and requires a lot of investment, manpower and time. Technology Review has talked with several mapping experts to get a sense of just how long it will take for Apple (AAPL) to produce a maps app on par with Google’s and has found that there just isn’t any quick way for Apple to get up to speed. More →
Apple’s new mapping technology that is set to debut with the release iOS 6 this fall may be making its way to Mac computers in the near future as well, Technically Personal reported. Developer Cody Cooper found an XML file with a reference to disable shading on a set of Intel based graphics chipsets, which, of course, are not supported by iOS devices. The Cupertino-based company’s references to Intel chipsets seems to be a guarantee that Apple Maps will be coming to Mac computers in some form. Apple unveiled its new mapping solution at its WorldWide Developer Conference in San Francisco last month. The app features turn-by-turn navigation, real-time traffic updates, Siri support, Yelp integration and 3D flyovers in select locations. More →