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Apple’s war against Google Maps

Published by on May 16th, 2012, 1 Comment

It is no secret that Apple and Google have been going at each other’s throats in a string of patent and copyright battles over iOS and Android. But it seems that Apple is stepping it up and stepping outside of the courtrooms this time to take on Google. Even after the death of Steve Jobs, who hated everything Android, Apple is still going after its greatest enemy.

Android remains a threat to the iPhone and understandably, Apple wants to rid itself of all things Google. Obviously, they won’t stop their customers from using Google search, so they are trying to do the next best thing, take down Google Maps.

Google Maps currently comes pre-installed on Apple’s iPhone, rebranded as “Maps”. This contributes to Google coffers, from the location queries users make within the app that adds to their data and advertising stream. Rumour has it Apple is developing an alternative to the hugely successful Google initiative. According to sources, it will likely be unveiled at WWDC (Apple Worldwide Developers Conference), where after they will replace Google Maps with OpenStreetMap. I expected this to happen at some stage, and expected it to fail dismally. But apparently, it will make many big shots over at Google scratch their heads.

The reason for it doing so? Well, Apple is developing a 3D alternative to Google Maps. Yes, you read correctly, not only the CBD of some cities around the world, but actually the whole metropolitan area. According to Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac.com it will be a “much cleaner, faster and more reliably experience.” Apple acquired a company called C3 Technologies, and their technology is described as follows:

C3 Technologies is the leading provider of 3D mapping solutions, offering photo-realistic models of the world for search, navigation and geographic information systems. Since 2007 when it was spun out of the aerospace and defence company Saab AB, venture-backed C3 has redefined mapping by applying previously classified image processing technology to the development of 3D maps as a platform for new social and commercial applications. The Sweden-based company’s automated software and advanced algorithms enable C3 to rapidly assemble extremely precise 3D models, and seamlessly integrate them with traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images, that together are forever changing how people use maps and explore the world.

They will create “incredibly high quality and detailed 3D maps” based on declassified missile targeting methods. What?!? The results are 3D renderings of cities that users can fly through, rotate and zoom in on and out of. Check out this video preview:

This could throw heaps of pressure onto Google if Apple pulls this off. I have my doubts though. For one, I can’t imagine Apple having enough data to make this service work in a comprehensive manner. When we search something in Google Maps, the query gets sifted through thousands of Google databases. Apple would take years to replicate this kind of data, surely. Also, most people love Google Maps, and it may be possible for Apple to lose plenty of iPhone customers who use Google Maps a lot, to Android. Whether the video is an actual demonstration of what the app can do, we will have to wait until the big reveal.

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