Apple Maps vans operating around the clock in run-up to 'iOS 10' debut

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2016
With Apple widely expected to announce improvements for its in-house mapping effort alongside "iOS 10" this summer, the company's fleet of sensor-laden vans continues to ply the streets -- even at night.




Apple's vans have been spotted with increasing regularity since they first appeared. A snapshot provided by AppleInsider reader JP shows one of the readily-identifiable vehicles plying the highways outside of New York City after dark, while others have been seen on late-night runs through Boston and its surrounding areas.

After a few months of mystery, Apple officially acknowledged the maps data program last June. The company now provides a listing of locations where the vans are expected to appear in the immediate future.

The sensors attached to the vans -- cameras, LiDAR, and high-sensitivity GPS, among others -- point to a mapping effort broadly similar to that run by Google.

Apple maps van rolling around Boston pic.twitter.com/klngX9ycBw

-- Matt Karolian (@mkarolian)


That program is likely to include both ground truth operations as well as environmental capture. The former verifies that roads are where the map thinks they are; the latter scans and collects data on the surrounding area, including depth maps and photographs.

Apple's language surrounding its mapping efforts point to an expansion similar to Google's Street View, and such a feature could be unveiled as soon as this summer. The company is likely to announce iOS 10 -- its next-generation mobile operating system -- at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference held in June.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    In the DARK?

    this is obviously not an Apple clone of Street View. Will Apple provide nighttime views as well as daytime? That would make sense.
    cnocbuicornchiplolliver
  • Reply 2 of 35
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    I don't think a nighttime street view makes sense.  I don't think a 3D model would be a good substitute for street view either so at a guess I would say Apple probably aren't doing street view.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    cnocbui said:
    I don't think a nighttime street view makes sense.  I don't think a 3D model would be a good substitute for street view either so at a guess I would say Apple probably aren't doing street view.
    I guess they could be doing just a LIDAR run - there is less obstructing traffic at night. But I still like the idea that they are creating a night view - Apple devices are becoming increasingly responsive to the environment in which they are operating.
    cornchippatchythepiratelolliver
  • Reply 4 of 35
    leptonlepton Posts: 111member
    I notice the vans seem to concentrate themselves on areas that currently have FlyOver. I'm guessing they will introduce a "FlyInto" feature, where in FlyOver cities, you could fly down to street level.
    lolliver
  • Reply 5 of 35
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    jonorom said:
    In the DARK?

    this is obviously not an Apple clone of Street View. Will Apple provide nighttime views as well as daytime? That would make sense.
    It's a clone, they just are 'possibly' adding a night view. Google Maps has a HUGE headstart on maps. Apple needs more employees checking and implementing user fixes. Sometimes I've noticed reported fixes in a week or two and other mysteriously just don't get fixed. Not enough employees on the problem would be my guess.
  • Reply 6 of 35
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    lepton said:
    I notice the vans seem to concentrate themselves on areas that currently have FlyOver. I'm guessing they will introduce a "FlyInto" feature, where in FlyOver cities, you could fly down to street level.
    Your not the first to guess this.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,787member
    Asking Siri a Maps question is still a complete waste of time. I was trying to find a certain shopping plaza yesterday. I knew I was very close but I just couldn't find it. I asked Siri and she directed me to a place with the same name but 2000 miles away. I don't know why I keep trying. This has been broken since day one.
    edited February 2016 cali
  • Reply 8 of 35
    volcan said:
    Asking Siri a Maps question is still a complete waste of time. I was trying to find a certain shopping plaza yesterday. I knew I was very close but I just couldn't find it. I asked Siri and she directed me to a place with the same name but 2000 miles away. I don't know why I keep trying. This has been broken since day one.
    Have you tried clicking on the Report a Problem button and, you know, reporting the problem? If nobody tells Apple that something in Maps is wrong, they will not fix it.
    edited February 2016 nomadmaclolliverlostkiwiSpamSandwichcreek0512
  • Reply 9 of 35
    The one thing I can see Google worried about is one day people go to maps.apple.com and instead of getting the page describing Apple Maps on iOS devices they get an actual online map just like you see with maps.google.com.

    Google is also likely worried about the rate that Apple is improving Maps. People seem to forget how crappy Google Maps were at the beginning or the fact they STILL have errors (only two blocks from me a street that's been closed to bicycles almost 2 years ago still shows you can drive a car there).

    While Google had a "head start", Apple has the advantage of doing Maps with the newest technology (which wasn't available when Google started). For example, the cost to make these mapping vehicles has dropped significantly from when Google started.

    Bottom line is Apple Maps will equal (or surpass) Google Maps in the near future, and it would have cost Apple less money/resources to do so.
    justadcomicslolliverlostkiwikevin kee
  • Reply 10 of 35
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,787member
    tdknox said:

    Have you tried clicking on the Report a Problem button and, you know, reporting the problem? If nobody tells Apple that something in Maps is wrong, they will not fix it.
    It is not a Maps problem per se. It is a Siri problem. I didn't have the Maps app open. Siri opened it in response to me asking "where is the ...?" I have reported other errors and omissions to the Maps team with some success in resolving other issues.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    I have always had good luck with Apple's mapping. I have driven from Western New York to Chicago, and to Boston many times, with lots of stops in the Finger Lakes region, Adirondaks, etc. 
    Its worked well for me in big cities and small towns with dirt roads. 
    That being said, I am glad to see my county listed on the Apple Map page for this month.
    The satellite data in my area is quite outdated. My car from two cars ago still sits on my street from two address changes ago. 
    edited February 2016 lolliverkevin kee
  • Reply 12 of 35
    Apple Maps is still a complete joke.  There is a park in a different country.  To me and to Google Maps, a park displayed on a map, when the map is zoomed out, should be green.  To Apple, only the green space (with trees and grass) should be green and the rest of the park should be in beige (same color as other empty spaces on the map).

    Well, the rest of the park consists of the tennis courts, basketball area, swimming pool area, etc.  That should all be green because it is part of the park.  It is still part of the park!  This park is very large also, and the non-green space takes up about 50% of the park.  The park, according to Apple Maps, seems to be small, when in reality, it is quite large.

    Also, Flyover is a complete joke.  Even when it works well, it is still useless.  

    Siri hands-free, in the car, is also a joke.  I click on my car's voice command button, and say "How far am I from XX city?" and Siri says "I cannot tell you because your iPhone screen is off."  Well, I don't need my screen to be on to tell me the DISTANCE (I don't need the map).  To be fair, I unlock my phone screen and do the same thing, and Siri still gives me the same message about my screen!  I just need Siri to say "You are about 15 miles away" and better yet say "You are about 15 miles away and will arrive in 20 mins."
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 13 of 35
    I wonder how this investment is being monetized by Apple. Google clearly just uses the location information from maps users for ad-targeting algorithms and services that also feed those algorithms.

    Is there money in just making it harder for Google to gather location information?
  • Reply 14 of 35
    volcan said:
    tdknox said:

    Have you tried clicking on the Report a Problem button and, you know, reporting the problem? If nobody tells Apple that something in Maps is wrong, they will not fix it.
    It is not a Maps problem per se. It is a Siri problem. I didn't have the Maps app open. Siri opened it in response to me asking "where is the ...?" I have reported other errors and omissions to the Maps team with some success in resolving other issues.
    Apple Maps and Siri are terrible, and it seems mostly related to intelligent (or no so intelligent) search.* I'll ask siri a simple thing like "find yoga one on maps" and the response will be "searching the internet for 'find yoga one on maps.'" Unbelievably stupid. It's especially frustrating as someone who avoids google at all costs, and thus uses Apple Maps exclusively. I'm not the first one to point this out.. if you don't use the EXACT phrasing and abbreviation, you're usually SOL, which is ridiculous for the most powerful company on the planet, particularly one that cares so much about its products. I will point out that the aesthetics, layout, and flow of Apple Maps is excellent.

    The only thing I can reliably use siri for is to schedule things/reminders, and sometimes to message people, and for those thing's it's great. Every other time I use siri I cringe, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The sad part is that I'm actually setting a pretty low bar. If I type into maps "recycling center north main" I fing expect it to find the recycling center on north main that's 10 min from my home, not a "North Main Recycling" business that's 4 hours away!

    The services area of Apple definitely needs some changes, which is probably why Tim stopped mentioning services, and mostly talks about hardware and software. Hopefully, now that services is going to be a bigger part of their narrative to wall st (which I couldn't care less about),  their actual services will improve.

    *How freakn hard can it be.. google does it

    edited February 2016
  • Reply 15 of 35
    bellsbells Posts: 126member
    I've seen Apple Maps four times in the last two months. 

    I dont use Street View (or Google Maps), so I hope Apple has something better up its sleeve.
    calicornchip
  • Reply 16 of 35
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,787member
    ericthehalfbee said:

    While Google had a "head start", Apple has the advantage of doing Maps with the newest technology (which wasn't available when Google started). For example, the cost to make these mapping vehicles has dropped significantly from when Google started.

    Google is constantly redoing their maps, street view and satellite images on roughly a two year schedule, at least in my area. So any company that has the capital to execute a similar maps project can catch up to Google in two years. One advantage that Google has is their search engine data which they use as an overlay on top of their maps and surpasses any other company especially one that has no search engine of their own.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 17 of 35
    volcan said:
    It is not a Maps problem per se. It is a Siri problem. I didn't have the Maps app open. Siri opened it in response to me asking "where is the ...?" I have reported other errors and omissions to the Maps team with some success in resolving other issues.
    Apple Maps and Siri are terrible, and it seems mostly related to intelligent (or no so intelligent) search.* I'll ask siri a simple thing like "find yoga one on maps" and the response will be "searching the internet for 'find yoga one on maps.'" Unbelievably stupid. It's especially frustrating as someone who avoids google at all costs, and thus uses Apple Maps exclusively. I'm not the first one to point this out.. if you don't use the EXACT phrasing and abbreviation, you're usually SOL, which is ridiculous for the most powerful company on the planet, particularly one that cares so much about its products. I will point out that the aesthetics, layout, and flow of Apple Maps is excellent.


    "Find Yoga One" works great for me. No need to specify "in maps". It will use maps when you ask it to find something. Save yourself 2 unnecessary words and endless frustration.
    nolamacguylollivercornchip
  • Reply 18 of 35
    By 2030 they might have the mid-cities in the US mapped.
    cornchip
  • Reply 19 of 35
    tdknox said:
    Apple Maps and Siri are terrible, and it seems mostly related to intelligent (or no so intelligent) search.* I'll ask siri a simple thing like "find yoga one on maps" and the response will be "searching the internet for 'find yoga one on maps.'" Unbelievably stupid. It's especially frustrating as someone who avoids google at all costs, and thus uses Apple Maps exclusively. I'm not the first one to point this out.. if you don't use the EXACT phrasing and abbreviation, you're usually SOL, which is ridiculous for the most powerful company on the planet, particularly one that cares so much about its products. I will point out that the aesthetics, layout, and flow of Apple Maps is excellent.


    "Find Yoga One" works great for me. No need to specify "in maps". It will use maps when you ask it to find something. Save yourself 2 unnecessary words and endless frustration.
    I appreciate your tip, honestly. But that kind of goes more to my point, that one has to say the exact phrase or you don't get the right response. The one you suggested may be the best phrase to use, but most people are not going to use the most optimal phrase when interacting "naturally" with siri. This issue comes up again and again with siri. For instance if I use the wrong word to open an Apple TV app.. if I use the phrase "open altos adventure" it will work, but if I say "play altos adventure" or "start altos adventure" it won't open the app. This is just one example of a very common, and seemingly easy to fix issue. It's common sense, basic things like that, which should not at all be an issue, that are the most frustrating.
    cali
  • Reply 20 of 35
    Sometimes I think Apple Maps is run by 5 guys in a room with one drone.
    calicornchip
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