After reports last month that Apple Maps is ready to be completely overhauled, plans are now underway with Apple Maps vehicles collecting data in 45 US states. The vehicles, equipped with LiDAR sensors that use a combinating of illumination and radar technology to measure distances and areas, are now operating in the states of Montana and North Carolina, collecting data for the new mapping platform.
Apple Maps was launched in 2012 as the default mapping platform for iOS devices, but its many inaccuracies and faults meant that it didn’t quite take off. Apple’s approach this time is to collect data using only its own methods, rather than combine the data it has collected with other third-party map data providers. The overhauled mapping system is likely to go live in the US in 2019.
According to a report by MacRumors, the Apple Maps vehicles are yet to operate in Alaska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. Apart from the vehicles, Apple will also rely on satellite data, as well as information anonymously collected from users’ iPhones, for users that have opted in to share location information.
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All of these changes are said to be making Apple Maps significantly more accurate and usable, with better points of interest, ability to provide accurate search results and more. Apple has fallen behind other mapping software in recently years, particularly Google Maps, which is widely considered the most accurate and usable mapping tool for smartphones. Apart from being the default mapping software on Android phones, many third-party service providers also implement Google Maps-based solutions.