Apple is hitting the road in order to start capturing images for its Apple Maps. As confirmed in its Apple Maps Vehicles website, the company is indeed driving vehicles around the world in order to gather data by taking pictures and collecting other visual information. Apple further stated that the data it compiled will be used to make improvements on its Apple Maps.
Others may view this as a move by Apple to create a competitor to Google's Street View service. Although Apple has not stated explicitly that it is trying to contend with its biggest rival's service, it is difficult to argue otherwise.
Apple did however stress that they are committed to respecting the privacy of any person, place, or thing that may have been inadvertently captured in the images while the tech giant is collecting its data. For instance, the company is planning to blur the faces of people or license plates before deciding to publish the images for its Apple Maps service.
Google actually had to go through the same privacy related issues when it tried to build its photo database for its Street View service. When the search giant took photos of streets across the globe, it was criticized for violating privacy rights. The critics claimed that the images Google took can be used to piece together a person's exact location. The company was then forced to blur people's faces and license plates.
Obviously, Apple does not want to deal with that kind of flak. So it is taking a more proactive approach by explaining clearly via its website its intentions and its commitment to protecting the privacy of people.
More importantly, Apple's fans may be delighted to know that the company really is taking significant steps to improve its Apple Maps service. Launched in 2012, Apple Maps was a bit of an unfinished product which needed a lot of polishing and improvement. Some of the first users of the service complained about inaccuracies and even technical glitches. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, even issued a formal apology for the fiasco. Cook even recommended that, for the meantime, users download mapping apps from third party providers (including Google) while Apple sorted out its own mapping app.
Of course, Apple has been more careful with its Apple Maps since then, and it appears that the tech giant has finally got it right this time. As this year's Worldwide Developers Conference held in San Francisco, the company revealed that it has gotten 5 billion requests from users on a weekly basis. These requests include address queries, directions, or a street view level of a particular location.
Still, Apple Maps has a long way to before it can truly say it is shoulder to shoulder with Google Maps. But it seems like the company is taking the right steps this time, and it just have to work its way to where it wants to be, one street photo at a time.
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