iPhone users will get 'crowd-sourced traffic database' in future, Apple says

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple has revealed that it is collecting data to help create an "improved traffic service" for iPhone users, a product it intends to launch in the next few years.



The revelation came as part of Apple's list of questions and answers related to iOS security and location tracking. The iPhone maker revealed in its answers that it is "collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database."



The company went on to say that it intends to provide iPhone users with an "improved traffic service in the next couple of years." It offers no more detail on what the service is, or what it could mean for iPhone users.



The answer does not clarify whether its use of the word "traffic" is related to the network data kind, as connected devices like the iPhone send and receive, or the vehicular form of traffic. Either, of course, would be applicable to a mobile device like the iPhone.



Apple has shown interest in creating its own mapping software for the iPhone, moving away from data provided by rival Google that is currently utilized. In 2009, AppleInsider revealed a patent application from Apple related to GPS route-planning, which would take into account a variety of factors in planning someone's road trip, including traffic.



The Cupertino, Calif., company also purchased Google Maps competitor Placebase in 2009, and in 2010 it acquired another online mapping company, Poly9. And last year, starting with iOS 3.2, Apple began using its own location databases for the Maps software on iOS devices like the iPhone, moving away from databases maintained by Google and Skyhook Wireless.







As for Internet traffic, the iPhone was dubbed the "Hummer of cellphones" by The New York Times in 2009, after AT&T's network in the U.S. experienced difficulty handling traffic from an influx of iPhone users. Apple also tweaked its phone to lessen the strain on AT&T's network, it was revealed by The Wall Street Journal in 2010.



The bandwidth consumption of devices like the iPhone even prompted AT&T to institute a 2GB data cap on new customers starting in June 2010. The move aimed to curtail "data hogs" on its network, which the company said consume 40 percent of total bandwidth, even though they make up just 3 percent of the total number of users.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    I think it'd be pretty awesome if they implemented their own map service!
  • Reply 2 of 35
    I'm sure that that answer will satisfy the congressmen.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    jj.yuanjj.yuan Posts: 212member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Darkstar2007 View Post


    I think it'd be pretty awesome if they implemented their own map service!



    I am sure Google doesn't want to see this fruit. What they can do to sabotage it I don't know.
  • Reply 4 of 35
    Steve said this was going on when they announced the iPhone 3G
  • Reply 5 of 35
    bartfatbartfat Posts: 433member
    The last piece of the puzzle that frees Apple-dom from the Google-plex And as a benefit, we get Apple's attention to detail applied to planning travel routes!
  • Reply 6 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Darkstar2007 View Post


    I think it'd be pretty awesome if they implemented their own map service!



    Just curious, but why? What would make it awesome?
  • Reply 7 of 35
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    The last piece of the puzzle that frees Apple-dom from the Google-plex And as a benefit, we get Apple's attention to detail applied to planning travel routes!



    I never understood why this hasn't been done yet by others. With all these network connected GPS receivers driving around, it wouldn't take a large percentage of them to contribute to a service that shows the actual current speeds on roads around metro areas. This data then is aggregated and distributed to other users to allow for efficient use of the roads. The sources of the data can be paid, even, or given an otherwise expensive mapping app+service for free. Maybe some app developer out there is already working on this, but it seems like an obvious thing.
  • Reply 8 of 35
    jonamacjonamac Posts: 385member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cameronj View Post


    I never understood why this hasn't been done yet by others. With all these network connected GPS receivers driving around, it wouldn't take a large percentage of them to contribute to a service that shows the actual current speeds on roads around metro areas. This data then is aggregated and distributed to other users to allow for efficient use of the roads. The sources of the data can be paid, even, or given an otherwise expensive mapping app+service for free. Maybe some app developer out there is already working on this, but it seems like an obvious thing.



    I believe the difficulty lies in determining which devices are in vehicles that are being driven and which are in the pockets for pedestrians walking along the pavement. If devices were running a turn-by-turn navigation app then that data would indeed be very useful to this purpose.
  • Reply 9 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post


    Just curious, but why? What would make it awesome?



    Well it'd be a lot better than the iPhones native google maps app. I mean the app is better than nothing, but it would be nice to see a better nav. app with voice turn by turn directions and voice to text. I think we would all appreciate that! That is if they made their own nav. app with those options
  • Reply 10 of 35
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jonamac View Post


    I believe the difficulty lies in determining which devices are in vehicles that are being driven and which are in the pockets for pedestrians walking along the pavement. If devices were running a turn-by-turn navigation app then that data would indeed be very useful to this purpose.



    That seems like the easiest of imaginable problems to solve, really. We're not talking about one data point, we're talking about dozens hopefully, and I think a sophisticated TI-82 could eliminate moving data points which never go faster than 5 MPH, essentially never stop except at intersections, and aren't ever located approximately near the middle of the road. GPS is accurate enough for that.



    Plus the main benefit of such a service wouldn't be for crowded city streets, it would be for commutes though highways and local streets where bypassing an accident would save you a ton of time.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,631member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Darkstar2007 View Post


    Well it'd be a lot better than the iPhones native google maps app. I mean the app is better than nothing, but it would be nice to see a better nav. app with voice turn by turn directions and voice to text. I think we would all appreciate that! That is if they made their own nav. app with those options



    Plus, it would be nice not to need to use Google Anything.



    And, really, Google Maps is not that great, especially when it comes to directions. Especially their public transit directions can be laughable.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    Stop working on this Apple.

    In a few years time.....?????

    App does exist already: INRIX Traffic. Link: http://itunes.apple.com/nl/app/id324384027?mt=8

    Works awesome.
  • Reply 13 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Plus, it would be nice not to need to use Google Anything.



    And, really, Google Maps is not that great, especially when it comes to directions. Especially their public transit directions can be laughable.



    Exactly thank you!
  • Reply 14 of 35
    desarcdesarc Posts: 642member
    Great Article.



    1. a fact from current news

    2. possible implementation[s]

    3. historical data to back up hypothesis



    i would LOVE it if my iPhone could feed live [traffic/weather/detour] data into the in-dash Nav in my car via bluetooth. shouldn't be that hard, if the car manufacturers would work with Apple instead of the terrible terrible Nav software developers they're currently using.



    ever try to program a destination in an Audi, Infiniti, Mercedes, or BMW? they desperately need an Apple UI.
  • Reply 15 of 35
    tigertiger Posts: 20member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    ...their public transit directions can be laughable.



    That really depends on the quality of the underlying data that the local transit authority supplies to Google. Here in Chicago Google Maps for CTA is pretty good.



    You should also keep in mind the these are scheduled?not actual?travel times for each bus or train. The CTA does have the actual times for its busses (and soon, trains), but it's not integrated into Google (yet).
  • Reply 16 of 35
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,631member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tiger View Post


    That really depends on the quality of the underlying data that the local transit authority supplies to Google. Here in Chicago Google Maps for CTA is pretty good.



    You should also keep in mind the these are scheduled?not actual?travel times for each bus or train. The CTA does have the actual times for its busses (and soon, trains), but it's not integrated into Google (yet).



    Usually, the public transit comedy comes not from schedules, but from recommended transfers, sometimes running you around in circles, quite literally.



    But, even their driving directions are often stupid.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lordoftheflatbush View Post


    Stop working on this Apple.

    In a few years time.....?????

    App does exist already: INRIX Traffic. Link: http://itunes.apple.com/nl/app/id324384027?mt=8

    Works awesome.



    I use Inrix - I don't find it to be quite enough.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheShepherd View Post


    I'm sure that that answer will satisfy the congressmen.



    Google is satisfied, now it can begin the work to copy it.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    Google is satisfied, now it can begin the work to copy it.



    Actually, it's Apple that could be accused of doing the copying:



    From the Wall Street Journal, 4/22/2011:

    "Google also has said it uses some of the data to build accurate traffic maps. A cellphone's location data can provide details about, for instance, how fast traffic is moving along a stretch of highway."



    Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...#ixzz1KkDpXi6H



    I've always wondered how Google got traffic data on so many streets. I found it hard to believe they all had sensors embedded in them.



    More lame AppleInsider reporting to even think they are talking about network traffic, but admittedly, the press release could have been more clearly written. Apple is probably a bit upset that their hand in working on their own mapping/navigation has been shown.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    macosxpmacosxp Posts: 152member
    Why can't they just work with Google on this? Google already has a crowd-sourced traffic thing for their maps, why not join forces?
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