Apple hopes ‘real-time’ maps will be a Google beater

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No longer is Big Ben frozen in time. Photo: Apple
No longer is Big Ben frozen in time. Photo: Apple

For a long time, Apple Maps was a laughing stock. Then it started getting better. Apple ironed out the glitches, began updating Apple Maps every day, and introduced Flyover, which gave you a 3-D view of major cities as they would look from the sky.

Now it’s taken that technology one step further in an effort to win the mapping war versus Google: Apple Maps is going real-time.

Thanks to a new update, London’s Big Ben clock tower will now show the real time, while the iconic London Eye will rotate. Those are the only real-time updates we’ve spotted so far, but Apple is reportedly looking to add more moving elements to cities over the following year.

 Of course, in a real sense, Apple Maps isn’t real-time in the true sense of the word. What it has done is to cleverly map on (no pun intended) moving, animated elements onto the static images used by Flyover’s wireframes. This is something Apple hinted at in its original patent for the Flyover 3-D camera, but which we’ve not had the pleasure of seeing up until now.

Compared to real-time traffic updates and the like, it’s certainly a gimmick, but it’s a great one. It also opens up tons of possibilities for future expansions: such as days shifting in real-time from day to night, weather effects, or even seasonal changes.

Hey, it’s not totally crazy to think that Apple could use the technology for useful features like the aforementioned traffic updates: giving you an idea of congestion from a single glance.

For now, we’ll have to “make do” with watching the London Eye spin, but given Apple’s recent efforts at improving its mapping services thanks to the mysterious minivans (plus the numerous patents the company holds in this area), it’s a promising start to what could be a fantastic new feature.