Apple Public Transit To Go Live With iOS 9, Also Making Indoor Mapping Push

Apple Maps directions

As has been reported several times previously, Apple is getting ready to launch public transit data with iOS 9 according to sources that spoke with 9to5 Mac. It was originally supposed to launch in iOS 8 but apparently was pulled at the last minute.

The transit data will apparently include bus, subway and train schedule and routing information and be announced or introduced next month at Apple’s developer conference in San Francisco. Apple has had this data in house for quite a long time but hasn’t integrated it into Apple Maps, probably because it wants to avoid any mistakes, embarrassments or flaws that could further damage Apple Maps’ reputation with users.

For this reason and given the history of Apple Maps, the company needs to get upgrades or new features right. Apple recently bought a company called Coherent Navigation for more accurate location that will inform Maps on the Watch and iPhone.

More interesting to me than the impending launch of transit data is the following part of the 9to5 story about indoor mapping:

Apple intends to update iOS Maps to help users navigate major buildings, offices, and landmarks. While the feature may not go live this year, sources tell us that Apple is already mapping out its own offices in Cupertino. The company has let loose autonomous robots with iBeacon sensors, similar in size to iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaners, to collect data for its indoor mapping project.

Apple has the visibility, credibility and power to make or accelerate markets, as we’ve seen with payments and to some degree with wearables already. Indoor location/mapping has been limping along for a few years, though beacons have received lots of coverage and attention. With a more complete offering Apple could conceivably motivate a range of other companies in the ecosystem (specifically retailers and other venue owners) to move forward more aggressively.

Beacons are only one way to engage users indoors. LED lighting, WiFi, sound and magnetic energy are other methods of locating users and mapping indoor spaces.

In addition to all of the above, Cupertino may also be preparing to launch a Google Street View competitor.

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