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 Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iOS 10Google Mapsdrones

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Caitlin McGarry

Macworld.com
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?