Apple wants to make its Maps app directions a bit more human

By

Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Apple wants to overhaul its mapping navigation system, providing a solution that is more reminiscent of a real human navigator, according to a patent application uncovered by Cult of Mac today.

In doing so, the company could improve its long-maligned Apple Maps app, while also gaining ground on rivals such as Google.

The problem with existing navigation systems, as Apple lays out in its application, is that while they are accurate (e.g. “head north for 600 feet”), they are not always easily comprehensible to drivers. A situation in which a road name is given by the app where none is visible in real life can be stressful to the driver, and result in navigation problems.

Instead, Apple suggests building navigation sessions around landmarks, which can be described in much the way that a human navigator would do, while also referring to street signs.

Photo: USPTO/Apple
Your next Maps update may use landmarks to help you navigate. Photo: USPTO/Apple

In an example of how a journey might start, the example is given of a driver being advised to “exit the parking lot near AppleBees.RTM. restaurant.” Meanwhile, a step along the journey might be “turn right at the school building ahead,” while the journey could conclude with the driver being told that “your destination is the apartment complex with the water fountain in the front.”

The application also describes how it would suggest lanes for users to stick to on the freeway, such as “stay in the middle lane to continue on to the Bay Bridge,” or “stay on the right-most lane and exit on to 85N.”

While some of these features are already being incorporated into rival mapping services, they’d certainly be a welcome addition to Apple Maps. Apple’s mapping service has come a long way from its early days as a tech laughing stock. The company ironed out many of the early glitches, began updating Apple Maps every day, and has introduced innovative features such as Flyover, the small business-oriented Apple Maps Portal, and even (simulated) real-time elements.

Who knows? Against all odds, Apple may wind up coming out triumphant in the mapping wars.

Source: USPTO