The two tech giants are at it again, and this time it’s all about maps. Google has been the top provider of maps used in most GPS devices or apps, while Apple has been busy acquiring Google competitors in the map arena.
Google has been busy with acquisitions of another sort, gaining permission in countries to allow Street View, their real-time mapping service that shows a close up view of certain locations around the globe. Some countries only gave Google partial permission, citing privacy issues, while others aren’t really bothered by the technology.
Though their Street View technology met obstacles along the way, this didn’t stop Google from pushing things further. Now, they’re pushing Street View to the next level by allowing views inside buildings or establishments. They will deploy Google photographers to take 360° inside photos of most searched establishments. And preempting any additional privacy issues, people caught in the photos will be automatically blurred out, or the image will be scrapped all together.
“This experience, using Street View technology, includes 360-degree imagery of the business interior and storefront,” Google said back in May. “With this immersive imagery, potential customers can easily imagine themselves at the business and decide if they want to visit in person.”
As for Apple, they recently acquired C3 Technologies, a 3D mapping service used by the Swedish government. It’s the second 3D mapping technology that Apple acquired, and the third mapping technology the company acquired in the last couple of years. In 2009, Apple acquired Placebase, and just last year, they acquired Poly9.
This move by Apple is a direct assault on Google, as they want people to depend less and less on their rival’s mapping solutions. As Apple continues to build out its own ecosystem, it becomes increasingly important for the company to power its own mapping software. This may ultimately make it easier to develop around location-based apps designed for Apple products.
The C3 acquisition was a matter of growing Apple’s database as well. C3’s database includes 100 cities worldwide including top cities such as Barcelona, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Florence, Helsinki, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Miami, Milan, New York, Oslo, Prague, San Francisco, Stockholm, Toronto, Venice and Vienna.
C3 collects images in quite an interesting manner, as these images are gathered: “Using multiple cameras on airplanes coupled with missile-targeting tech to provide users with incredibly realistic maps which include pixel-depth mapping allowing you to know exactly how high in the air any area of the map happens to be.”
So what’s the deal about 3D maps? Well, for one, 3D maps will make it easier to pinpoint certain locations, as you’re looking at how a place really looks like, not just the top view of the location. And with Apple’s Siri technology, 3D maps would provide not only awesome geographic location capabilities, but it can also be a fun educational tool for school children.
As location-based services and integration become more important for the rivaling iOS and Android platforms, privacy remains an issue for both. It will become less about the differentiating factors between the technology and more about the manner in which end users’ needs are taken into consideration moving forward.