There have been a slew of Apple patents hitting the web recently, and many of them detail some pretty cool new stuff. We’ve seen everything from iPhones with projectors, to a new set of gestures in iOS.
Though, when looking through all the patent-related stories that have been cropping up, it becomes clear that one aspect of iOS has been receiving a bit more attention than the rest – maps.
Up until this point, the iOS maps application has been kind of, well, unexciting. At least for me, it’s always been one of those apps that I’m stuck with but never really use, so I just throw it in a folder and forget about it.
With the wide array of more fully-featured mapping apps out there, I admit I rarely use Apple’s version. However, it definitely seems as though Apple is trying to change this. A few patents have surfaced recently that, if they actually make it to iOS, could really transform the maps app from lackluster to a robust navigation tool.
First, last week a patent appeared explaining something called Schematic Maps, which would distort or exaggerate an on-screen map to make it easier for a user to view and follow a route.
Today, details have flooded the web about the possible inclusion of augmented reality in iOS via a new feature called Maps + Compass. For those that don’t know, augmented reality is a feature that overlays information or alters the image of a live video feed.
In this case, video feed from the iPhone’s camera would be overlaid with information like street names, points of interest, directions, and more.
In the patent application, Apple claims that,
“an instruction that directs a user to go north on Main St. assumes that the user could discern which direction is north. Further, in some instances, street signs might be missing or indecipherable, making it difficult for the user to find the directed route.”
Adding augmented reality to iOS could change all that with directions displayed directly on the map in real time. What’s more, this feature would even have the ability to alert a user when he or she is going in the wrong direction.
What’s more, it appears that Apple plans to integrate augmented reality with the Schematic Maps feature from last week. According to Patently Apple,
“Apple’s Jaron Waldman states that in some embodiments, the route could be represented as a schematic map, i.e., a simplified map that includes only relevant information for the user in an easy-to-read format.”
So what do you guys think about these map improvements? Are they enough to make you ditch the TomTom app, or are you still skeptical that Apple can produce an adequate navigation system? leave a comment below.