Apple Completely Rebuilding Maps With Its Own Data, Beginning With iOS 12

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce a completely overhauled Maps in the US over the next year, all using information that Apple gathered itself.


According to a new report from TechCrunch, Apple has quietly been working to rebuild its Maps application with self-gathered data, and will begin to roll out changes starting with the next beta of iOS 12.

The main overhaul is that Apple is now taking map-making in-house. The Cupertino company explained how it plans to progressively shift from third-party mapping data to doing it all itself. It’s a sign of just how important location data is, not only to simple navigation between A and B, but for localized services in apps and more.

“It’s doing this by using first-party data gathered by iPhones with a privacy-first methodology and its own fleet of cars packed with sensors and cameras,” reads the report. “The new product will launch in San Francisco and the Bay Area with the next iOS 12 Beta and will cover Northern California by fall.”

“Every version of iOS will get the updated maps eventually and they will be more responsive to changes in roadways and construction, more visually rich depending on the specific context they’re viewed in and feature more detailed ground cover, foliage, pools, pedestrian pathways and more,” the report continues.

Eddy Cue, who runs Internet Software and Services at Apple, is in charge of Maps and its overhaul. Cue, who interviewed for the new story, explains that Apple has spent six years readying itself for this overhaul:

“Since we introduced this six years ago — we won’t rehash all the issues we’ve had when we introduced it — we’ve done a huge investment in getting the map up to par,” said Cue. “When we launched, a lot of it was all about directions and getting to a certain place. Finding the place and getting directions to that place. We’ve done a huge investment of making millions of changes, adding millions of locations, updating the map and changing the map more frequently. All of those things over the past six years.”

Apple acknowledged today that its sensor-laden Apple Maps vans have been gathering data for the project for years. They have been using a combination of eight high-resolution cameras, four LiDAR arrays, GPS, and a physical measurement tool to gather imagery and positional data.

Other improvements are coming as well, including a redesigned search feature, which currently routinely suggests irrelevant results that may not even be on your current continent. The report also says that Apple will be enhancing pedestrian guidance and navigation generally, as well as including parking areas and building details appropriate to your destination.

Cue states near the end of his interview that US-based customers will start seeing the new data introduced over the next year.

Check out TechCrunch‘s entire report here.