Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Said to Fly Drones to Improve Maps Data

Mark Gurman and Alan Levin, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. plans to use drones and new indoor navigation features to improve its Maps service and catch longtime leader Google, according to people familiar with the matter.


Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.

Coincidentally, when I read this article on Friday, my girlfriend told me that the store where she works received a visit from a Google representative. The rep said that they were confirming the store’s location and details for Google Maps. I asked my girlfriend if her store had ever seen a visit from an Apple Maps representative to do the same thing; she said they hadn’t.

Any improvement to Apple’s mapping data is a very good thing, in my books. If flying drones around to confirm roads and street signs is what it takes, so be it.1 I also think they need more people who are familiar with each city to physically go door-to-door and confirm that the details in Maps are correct. Just recently, I had to add a store location that has been open in the biggest mall in the city for the past six years. This would have been resolved far sooner if anyone from the Maps team paid a visit to the mall. I could say the same about dozens of reports that I’ve filed since Apple Maps launched.

  1. Many of these issues could easily be fixed if Apple’s cartographers bothered to look at the satellite view. Many of the reports I’ve filed are something along the lines of “just look at the actual road and you’ll see that there’s no corner in it”. ↩︎