Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Apple is revamping its Maps data in detail

TechCrunch editor-in-chief Matthew Panzarino gets the skinny from Apple itself about a major push on improving data in the company’s mapping solution:

Better road networks, more pedestrian information, sports areas like baseball diamonds and basketball courts, more land cover including grass and trees represented on the map as well as buildings, building shapes and sizes that are more accurate. A map that feels more like the real world you’re actually traveling through.

This is a big deal. Apple Maps has steadily improved in the last few years since its somewhat disastrous debut, but there’s always been a perception that it’s still lagged behind Google. It’s pretty clear that Cupertino wants to dispel that, and it seems to be putting the muscle behind it. In traditional Apple fashion, it’s decided to handle that by building the whole widget: collecting all of the data from the ground up.

Panzarino points out a few interesting details in his conversations with Apple employees, most crucially how focused they remain on the company’s core value of privacy:

Throughout every conversation I have with any member of the team throughout the day, privacy is brought up, emphasized. This is obviously by design as it wants to impress upon me as a journalist that it’s taking this very seriously indeed, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s evidently built in from the ground up and I could not find a false note in any of the technical claims or the conversations I had.

And, of course, Apple’s usual attention to detail:

This is the department of details. They’ve reconstructed replicas of hundreds of actual road signs to make sure that the shield on your navigation screen matches the one you’re seeing on the highway road sign. When it comes to public transport, Apple licensed all of the type faces that you see on your favorite subway systems, like Helvetica for NYC. And the line numbers are in the exact same order that you’re going to see them on the platform signs.

Other interesting tidbits include technology that might hint at AR-based navigation, and the fact that Apple is–finally–improving its search. But the proof will be in the using. The detailed data will be rolled out into existing Maps next week, starting with information collected about, of course, the Bay Area.

—Linked by Dan Moren

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