Recent job listings on Apple’s hiring page suggest the company is considering giving Apple Maps an AR overhaul.
The move would keep pace with Google, which showed off an AR mapping feature for Google Maps at its I/O event earlier this year. It comes at a particularly interesting time for Apple, as the company recently acquired an AR headset maker. It’s yet another hint that augmented reality won’t stay confined to our iOS devices for long!
“Digital maps have become essential tools of our everyday lives, yet despite their ubiquity, they are still in their infancy,” one Apple job listing description noted. “From urban mobility to indoor positioning, from LIDAR to Augmented Reality, advances in technology and new kinds of data are powering innovations in all areas of digital mapping. If you love maps and are passionate about what is possible, you will be in great company.”
The job calls for someone with “familiarity with Maps and Core Location APIs” and “familiarity with Augmented Reality APIs.”
The posting is one of a growing number of AR-centric roles at Apple that have appeared in the past several months. These include multiple AR Application Engineers, an AR UI Artist, Senior AR Application Engineer, and more.
Working to improve Apple Maps
Apple’s efforts to continually improve Apple Maps are laudable — even if, as noted, this is a case of keeping up with the Joneses. When Apple first unleashed Maps in 2012, it landed with an embarrassing belly flop. Early Map problems ranged from depicting horribly warped landscapes to directing folks visiting the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska to drive across one of the taxiways.
For the past several years, Apple has worked diligently to update the service every single day to try and keep it current, while it’s also investigated technologies like indoor mapping, while deploying sensor-filled minivans and even gained permission to use drones to capture better mapping data.
When it comes to the rumors of an Apple AR headset (something Tim Cook hasn’t exactly denied), mapping makes a lot of sense. As I’ve noted before, AR maps aren’t the most intuitive fit for smartphones, since it relies on our being willing to carry a phone in front of our eyes as we walk: something which could prove a safety hazard.
If Apple could create a compelling AR mapping app, however, it could turn out to be the kind of “killer app” that makes an Apple-branded AR headset worth buying on day one.
Do you think AR mapping is gimmick or the way of the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.