Apple’s Maps app got off to a rough start — to say the least — in 2012.
But despite its weekly tweaks and improvements, Apple Maps still can’t help if you’re taking a bus, a train, or any other means of public transportation.
Thankfully, a new patent published by the US Patent & Trademark Office on Thursday (via Patently Apple) might reveal Apple’s potential plans to redesign its navigation app to better help commuters get from A to B, especially using public transportation.
Last year, Apple went on an acquisition spree, picking up mapping companies left and right: It bought WiFiSLAM for indoor mapping, Locationary and HopStop for their mapping data, BroadMap for organising and analysing data, and Embark Inc., which owned 10 different iOS apps to help people navigate major cities.
Based on the new patent, it looks like Apple is putting all those apps and acquisitions to good use:
- The patent describe a new “Commute” application, which “presents the routes and the schedules for the routes in an intuitive and fluid manner,” according to Patently Apple. In other words, it will be easy to see all the various alternative routes you can take after you enter your destination.
- The app is said to show you all the details about any given route, displaying the information in a dynamic table that you can scroll through to see all the trips on that route for a particular day.
- The departure and arrival schedules are also said to update automatically within the app, since Apple’s Commute application will receive updates from each transit vehicle “at each stop along a route from a set of servers operated by a transit operator” or a similar third party that collects this information.
- Instead of simply choosing a destination, you can also choose a particular stop and be able to see all the various routes that pass through it. Similarly, you can pinpoint your own location and see all the different transit routes that are near you or passing by you.
- Even when you turn off your phone the Commute app will keep updating silently in the background, just like the current version of Apple Maps. It will also send you notifications, for instance, if a bus/train is running late.
- The Commute app can apparently be customised, so you can view commutes in a map or in a list.
In some of the images filed with the patent application, you can select from a list of “favourites” and routes, and you can also view advisories and other information like phone numbers and websites for destinations on the bottom row of icons.
Visit the USPTO’s patent page to learn more about Apple’s potential plans for Maps.
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