Apple has been secretly working for 4 years to make Apple Maps something you might actually want to use

Screenshot/Apple Maps

  • Apple currently licenses much of the data underpinning the Apple Maps app from companies like TomTom.
  • But soon, Apple’s own homegrown database will provide all the information needed for Apple Maps.
  • Apple will start to roll out its new maps to iPhones and iPads starting later this year.

Apple announced on Friday that it had been rebuilding Apple Maps since 2015, and that the next-generation maps will be released for beta testers in San Francisco later this summer.

The underlying map data itself, like the location of roads, businesses, and signs, will be all Apple’s for the first time ever, the company revealed to TechCrunch. This means that Apple will reduce its reliance on data providers like TomTom and OpenStreetMap, which have historically provided most of the data for Apple Maps.

Apple has been collecting a lot of the data with its Apple Maps vans, which have been spotted on streets as far back as 2015. This is the first time that data will be used in the Maps app, according to Apple.

The iPhone company also plans to use anonymized data from people’s phones to improve its maps.

Apple van cameras street viewClaycordThe first public sighting of an Apple Maps van in 2015.

Apple’s own data also has more detail than what it was using before, according to the TechCrunch report. It will include landmarks like grass, pools, parking lots, fields and pedestrian parkways. The overall design will be the same, but the maps themselves will be more detailed and useful.

Apple Maps was released in 2012, and the software was quickly panned for being worse than Google Maps. Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to publicly apologise for removing the Google-based Maps app that had been a default iPhone app.

So Apple has been secretly working to improve its maps since 2014, according to TechCrunch. 9to5Mac previously reported in 2015 that the company had aimed to built its own mapping database by 2018.

“We haven’t announced this. We haven’t told anybody about this. It’s one of those things that we’ve been able to keep pretty much a secret. Nobody really knows about it. We’re excited to get it out there. Over the next year, we’ll be rolling it out, section by section in the US,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for services, told TechCrunch.

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