You all remember the Apple Maps problem when it first came out, right? Like when it would direct users to drive across an airport runway? Well, Apple has since fixed a lot of these problems, but it still doesn’t come close to the accuracy and usefulness of other systems like Google Maps. So, Apple has a solution: drones.
Yes, that’s right, Apple intends to fix all of its Maps problems using the developing tech, and it may actually add some really neat functions. Specifically, Apple may use this method to keep Maps updated at a much quicker refresh rate than currently available, meaning you’ll know about the annoying closed exit earlier than you otherwise would.
The idea for the drones is that they will be able to analyze road signs and road conditions to update the maps in a more real-time sense. Current methods Apple has been using are vans with many cameras and sensors, but this just doesn’t cover all the needs of collecting such a large amount of data.
None of this is definite, but speculations have been running pretty high recently. Apple actually applied for exemption to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) law against commercial use of drones in 2015 before the more specific regulations from the FAA rolled out. Apple was later granted the exemption, stating Apple could “operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography.”
Additionally, to further develop Maps and compete with Google, Apple is said to be looking at adding more indoor maps functions, meaning users can more easily find stores in large malls or the correct hanger in an airport. These are functions that Google has been developing for a while, but with Apple’s acquisition of Indoor.io last year, it seems clear that Apple intends to join that innovation with their app as well.
Overall, Apple seems to be looking to make major changes to their app to make it more usable not just for its customers’ navigation needs, but also for developers. Probably the largest problem Apple had when they still had all of their major issues in the Maps app was the lack of accurate data for developers to use. This made apps like Uber and Lyft less usable, and potentially discouraged devs from using Apple’s platform until it was fixed.
I, for one, am excited to see what updates Apple will come out with and find out if these changes will be significant or just a slight improvement.