Apple and Google have a huge rivalry going on with their respective Maps apps. Word on the streets says Apple plans to fly drones over certain areas to improve their Maps data, while Google continues to push the enveloped with more real-time features.
Both Apple and Google have a growing free of camera and sensor minivans scouring the world to improve basic data, but drones could add a variety of new elements to Maps data. For example, Apple drones could be commissioned to map out new roads and housing developments not yet gathered by satellites alone.
What I would like to see, and Apple has the money to make this happen, is a two-fold approach to mapping planet earth. Satellites and drones. Real-time data gathering and real-time updates to Maps.
Oh, and real-time video.
Alright, live video of a traffic jam up ahead might be a distraction while you’re driving, so I get that. Apple has the money to employ thousands of low orbiting satellites which could capture data and update Maps in real time. Hey, if the U.S. military can weaponize drones in the Mideast and control them from air conditioned bunkers in Nevada, then Apple can get some satellites in the sky that can give you a video of upcoming traffic. Drones, too.
Apple took plenty of much-deserved credit for a lousy Apple Maps launch back in 2012, but since then has improved dramatically, and though Maps isn’t Google Maps, it’s the Maps app used by more iPhone, iPad, and Mac users than anything else. There may be other mapping systems out there, but it’s a two-horse race, Google and Apple.
Our favorite iPhone maker has already filed with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to fly drones to gather data, photography, and videography. Video?
Why not video? And, why not real time video? Obviously, it might be cost prohibitive to run drones in every location all over the world, but 3D flyovers are popular in Maps, as are Street Views, so why not live videos from a number of drones in various metropolitan areas?
In parallel to satellite and drone mapping methods Apple has already started to map indoor locations. No, not your home, although with your Wi-Fi and iPhone that would be possible, but instead Apple plans to map indoor locations of airports, museums, and other large, high-traffic buildings. Yes, the earth is becoming more of a floating village in space, and Apple’s mapping efforts are not yet five years old. What will be mapped in 10 years?
I predict we’ll see real-time video of celebrities as reality TV shows. Not the highly edited flimflam we see now, but a real-time version of The Truman Show. Who wants to go first?