There’s a lot in this exclusive from Matthew Panzarino. A few key excerpts:
So a new effort was created to begin generating its own base maps, the very lowest building block of any really good mapping system. After that, Apple would begin layering on living location data, high resolution satellite imagery and brand new intensely high resolution image data gathered from its ground cars until it had what it felt was a ‘best in class’ mapping product.
There is only really one big company on earth who owns an entire map stack from the ground up: Google.
Apple knew it needed to be the other one. Enter the vans.
Imagine a world where the iPhone and Google Maps never broke up. A better world. Alas, some interesting ways Apple is going about this:
The secret sauce here is what Apple calls probe data. Essentially little slices of vector data that represent direction and speed transmitted back to Apple completely anonymized with no way to tie it to a specific user or even any given trip. It’s reaching in and sipping a tiny amount of data from millions of users instead, giving it a holistic, real-time picture without compromising user privacy.
“In short: traffic, real-time road conditions, road systems, new construction and changes in pedestrian walkways are about to get a lot better in Apple Maps.
The segments that he is referring to are sliced out of any given person’s navigation session. Neither the beginning or the end of any trip is ever transmitted to Apple. Rotating identifiers, not personal information, are assigned to any data or requests sent to Apple and it augments the ‘ground truth’ data provided by its own mapping vehicles with this ‘probe data’ sent back from iPhones.
Makes sense when you have a billion devices literally on the ground. Still sort of crazy that it took them this long to do this… Lastly:
This is the department of details. They’ve reconstructed replicas of hundreds of actual road signs to make sure that the shield on your navigation screen matches the one you’re seeing on the highway road sign. When it comes to public transport, Apple licensed all of the type faces that you see on your favorite subway systems, like Helvetica for NYC. And the line numbers are in the exact same order that you’re going to see them on the platform signs.
A very Apple approach.