Is Apple About To Launch A Competitor To Google Street View?


Google Street View is a dramatic and sometimes useful feature of Google Maps, which helped set it apart from competitors such as Nokia Maps and Bing Maps a few years ago. Now there’s evidence that Apple may be seeking to create its own version of Street View.

On Apple’s site the following posting appears:

Apple Street View

It then goes on to list cities around the world where its cars will be driving, including the US, UK and France.

In February of last year camera-equipped vans associated with Apple were photographed driving around the San Francisco Bay Area and in New York. At the time the speculation surrounded whether this effort was about creating a Google Street View-like capability for Apple Maps or whether it was about autonomous vehicles. The answer could be both.

Self-Driving car (Apple?)

Photo credit: Claycord

To my knowledge Google has never released usage data on Street View. My suspicion is that its usage numbers don’t align with the amount of resources Google has invested in it. But the investment is still justified.

Street View, though fun and interesting, is ultimately about the data that Google collects. That’s the real value of the project, rather than the imagery. It has been instrumental in improving the accuracy of Google Maps, navigation and mobile location for the company.

Apple Maps has improved dramatically since its launch several years ago. However in many respects it’s still not fully competitive with Google Maps.

The Apple Maps vehicles initiative is probably also about mapping data accuracy and navigation; imagery is secondary. Beyond this, if an Apple Car is being developed, as persistent rumors have suggested, such data would be potentially useful in that effort as well.

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