May be intended to produce Street View-style content
Unusual minivans -- equipped with what are believed to be cameras and LiDAR sensors -- have been spotted driving around California's Bay Area in recent weeks, reports say. The vehicles each have an X-shaped frame mounted to a luggage rack; the cameras are situated on four corners. Facing forward and back are spinning cylinders, similar to the LiDAR systems used on Google's self-driving car prototypes. Investigation by CBS affliate KPIX has discovered that a blue Dodge Caravan with the equipment is under lease to Apple.
Major additions include Hamburg, Liverpool
Apple has added 12 new towns and cities to the list of Apple Maps locations with Flyover coverage. Of these only one is in the US -- that being Amarillo, Texas. The others include three places in France -- Beziers, Clermont, and Saint-Tropez -- along with Aguadilla and Arecibo in Puerto Rico, Brno in the Czech Republic, Cittadella in Italy, Hamburg in Germany, Helsingborg in Sweden, Liverpool in England, and Odense in Denmark.
Apple acquisitions reportedly continue
Apple may have stealthily acquired two more companies in a continuing effort to improve the functionality of iOS. 9to5Mac reported on Monday that Apple has snatched up both BroadMap – a mapping firm – and Catch – an Evernote competitor – in the last several months. Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously said that Apple has acquired 15 firms this year, but not all of those have been revealed to date, and these latest two firms appear to be the sort that Apple would pick up.
Filings hint at future product features
The US Patent and Trademark Office has published several Apple patent applications, including separate filings for an "interactive map" interface and "quantum dot-enhanced display." The map application, spotted by AppleInsider, details an interactive interface that dynamically adjusts map content based on a chosen mode, with different modes for a range of activities or interests.
Google loses nearly 80 percent of iOS users, falls on Android as well
A year ago, Apple's own Maps program - which had launched to scathing press and user reviews due to errors, graphical glitches and the dropping of transit directions - was the laughing stock of the mapping industry. Google Maps - which finally produced its own iOS app after months of playing coy - was in the catbird seat, with 81.1 million users (out of a combined 103.6 million US iOS and Android market). One year later, things have changed.
New positions hint at further new features for future updates
Two new job listings at Apple have confirmed that the company is actively working to add public transit routing data to its Maps program, a feature long called-for and expected since the Apple Maps rollout in 2012. The company is hiring a "Maps Public Transit Engineering Manager" as well as a team of "Maps C++ Software Engineers - Public Transit," according to the postings. The manager will be responsible for both leading and building the Public Transit team.
Country has particular issues with labels in Apple Maps
In addition to a rash of hiring positions the company has recently posted for work on further improving its Maps app, Apple has posted a new job for a "Maps Ground Truth Data Specialist" for Australia. The country has had to deal with sometimes-dangerous levels of incorrect information from both Apple Maps and Google Maps, resulting in police warnings to motorists and others not to rely exclusively on the mapping data provided by the apps. The new position would send people out to verify and correct satellite imagery.
Fake names stem from old OpenStreetMap info
Just as Apple Maps has regained user trust by correcting many of the major problems with early versions of its maps, an old prank by some Afghan university students is giving the company another black eye over inaccurate street names shown for areas of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. A reliance on outdated data from OpenStreetMap -- a source used by Apple for some areas, and which is editable by users -- seems to be the source of the joke street names.
MoPub sees iOS 6 adoption jump after Google Maps
[Update: Chitika study contradicts MoPub, says increase due to China debut] Google Maps recent arrival on iOS 6 may have led to a significant number of users upgrading to that version of iOS. This according to ad network MoPub, which saw iOS 6 adoption jump 29 percent in the five days following the release of the new version of Google Maps. A later study by rival Chitika reported that in fact, US increase in iOS 6 adoption rates were basically flat, and credited the bump to the iPhone 5's debut in China, where it sold more than two million units in its first weekend.
Samsung boasts Google Maps over Apple mishaps
Samsung has taken aim at Apple's most recent maps app mishap, poking fun at the recent bulletin issued by police in Victoria, Australia, warning people away from relying solely on the Maps app in iOS 6 when navigating. A new ad installation on display on George Street in Sydney has a lost-looking four-wheel drive and camping equipment parked on a sidewalk, as well as a sign saying "Oops." The ad then goes on to tout the mapping abilities of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III smartphone, which relies on Google Maps.