Apple published a new page on their website indicating that “Apple is driving vehicles around the world to collect data which will be used to improve Apple Maps. Some of this data will be published in future Apple Maps updates.“
This confirms that the Apple cars seen on the road in various U.S. States (read here) with high tech gear on the rooftop are not self-driving experiments but mapping vans.
Apple is not detailing precisely what the data collected will be used for. However the company hints at a “street view“ type of product saying: “we will blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication.“
But Apple is providing detailson where the mapping cars will be driving: United States, England and Ireland (between June 15 and June 30).
Apple Global Maps?
This news obviously is a bit threatening for TomTom who is the major map data supplier to the Cupertino company.
However, this is only a long term threat. If Apple really wants to have their own maps – and this is a “if“ – they are not going to have a global coverage anytime soon.
As Google proved it takes many years when starting from scratch (even with billion of GPS probes). TomTom, by the way, just announced an extended period for its contract with Apple (read here).