Apple is building its own Maps, but will it matter?

Apple is building its own Maps, but will it matter?
It's no secret that Apple has been working on building an alternative maps application for iOS. Once Google really started to make some moves in the mobile space with Android, Apple ramped up acquisitions that all seem to be pointing towards a proprietary maps application that will replace Google Maps on iOS devices. However, there is a lot more to a successful maps application than just navigation, and we're wondering how long it will take Apple to get its own maps up to speed, and by then, if it really makes any difference for the platform. 

Apple's acquisitions

The story of Apple's Maps project (for simplicity we'll just call it Apple Maps) began just over 2 years ago in July of 2009 when Apple quietly purchased Placebase, which was the company that had created the PushPin API behind the Openplaces project. Both Placebase and Openplaces have essentially disappeared from the web since that acquisition. As of this writing, the Openplaces site couldn't be found, and the main page for Placebase just forwards to an overview of the PushPin API. The founder and CEO of Placebase, Jaron Waldman, has had his position on LinkedIn listed as being part of the Geo Team at Apple since that acquisition. 

The PushPin API and other products which Apple bought in that acquisition will likely form the base of Apple Maps, because it includes not only the actual maps of the world, but a surprising array of features which can be added onto the maps. PushPin includes not only the basic features of finding places and adding custom place pins, but also includes options for adding custom widgets and layers to maps. The layers are where a lot of the power of the product had been derived. Much like how we've seen flu maps, and or custom data sets added to Google Maps, PushPin offers a powerful set of tools to create custom data maps. It actually was quite an impressive program, and we wouldn't be surprised if most of the work that Apple has put into it is in simplifying the features and making it more user friendly. 

The next piece of the puzzle was Poly9. This was another quiet purchase by Apple, this one made in July of 2010. Poly9 was a Quebec-based startup which had used a number of different open tools including the PushPin API to create a Flash-based Google Earth clone called "Poly9 Globe". Of course, that product has also disappeared from the net since the acquisition. The prevailing theory is that Poly9 was acquired more for the programming team than for the actual product it had created. 

The latest piece was C3 Technologies, which Apple apparently purchased last year, but the details of the acquisition were kept so tightly secret that it wasn't until this past week that Apple was uncovered to be the owner of the company. C3 has created some incredibly impressive tech, which allows 3D imaging to be built from traditional 2D maps and images. This is very similar to what Google has been doing with its own Maps product with the new MapsGL features. The video demo of C3's technology is pretty impressive too:


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116 Comments

1. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

Google Maps is very well established, it'll be very hard to replace free turn-by-turn navigation with something of their own.

5. Shangri-La

Posts: 76; Member since: Oct 04, 2011

I see a falling apple.

33. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

i thikn you are definately wrong... apple wud not do this if it was not better than what they already have... its just not what they do.. they want the best consumer experience and if this is how they see fit, which i think its a great idea with all their extra cash, then go head!

34. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

But better than googles?

35. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

yes. if apple can make it better than googles they will do it.. if they cant they will not... just like they dont have the maps right now because they dont have everything google has... but give them time to make their own and if it is better they will use it

36. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

They will try no doubt but the amount of catch up required is unimaginable.

46. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

haha its imagined quite easily, as shown in the report above… but sarcastic comments aside, why do u think apple can not do it? they have such a large amount of money im sure they could rent vans satelites buy websites whatever they need to make it a reality

51. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Didn't say they couldn't.. Said unimaginable.. Renting vans to drive every street.. Every highway.. isn't cheap nor will it happen quickly.. To catch up is like someone getting a 5 day head start when the goal is running across the united states.. Trying to catch up to someone who has not stopped running.. Money only makes up a small portion of the feat. Google has exploded.. Android has grown at such a fast rate faster than most expected.. Sj didn't see it as a threat till they got speed.. Then he freaked out. Evolution favors the strong... Those who adapt.. Not those who remain constant.. Apple seems to be making changes. Doesn't mean they are godly and will just materialize some revolutionary map program that will dominate all that is google maps. Look at the big picture.. Google was just a search engine what has it accomplished.. What had it become.. How many man hours were put into google maps? Were talking about catchup.. feasible perhaps.. But only in the long run.. question is what can they bring to the table that hasn't been done in this arena? You make it out like google maps can be easily bested.

58. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

um can we stick to maps please? and ya i think apple, from the looks of their acquisitions, is in a great place to have something of equal or better than google maps... (ironically) apple will use partners and other people to get the job done much quicker that google has on its own... hahahahahah u think apple hast adapted from when the stock was 2 cents? hahahahahahah and to put it in your analogy, google might have a head start and be lost somehwere in the mountains of Utah (starting from cali of course) but apple will use a baton to pass it between people who each complete a small part of the journey, therefore at least catching up to google and possible surpassing it...

60. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Time will tell.

54. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

And we are talking about Apple besting google not besting themselves.. Any company can improve on its own previous work hence "the best iPhone yet" not "the best smart phone yet"

57. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

well as i said, if it does not best google's then they will not use it

104. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

That's not saying much.. They couldn't put out a better phone than what's on the market.... Yet they still put out the 4s :)

6. warlockz

Posts: 156; Member since: Oct 10, 2011

They are too late to try to establish any type of benchmark for a gps. Granted the iphone 4s should have included a decent type of gps instead of a low quality type of upgrade it received to its received.

22. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

I will agree with you. Although I try and use other services I must admit, its the best. Apple building a maps program might draw some adopters in the short term but over the long haul might not be what google maps continues to be (remember ping anyone). not everything they do can be successful but trying doesn't hurt, look at Microsoft.

28. warlockz

Posts: 156; Member since: Oct 10, 2011

Definately one should keep a healthy open mind and try new services or else innovation and competition would cease.

55. TacoTrooper

Posts: 21; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

Once apple finished making this bad boy google maps will be down right ugly and obsolete. Hopefully android won't try to steal any more of Apples ideas.

72. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

So by Apple doing this.. its CLEARLY something noone has ever done before right lol.

94. IrishTalian

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

Are you serious, stupid or most likely both?! First of all, there is no confirmation that Apple is actually going to develop a map program. Second, Android copying from iOS?!!? Once again, are you serious? Oh yeah, you're stupid and serious! For a long, long time now, Apple has been copying Android, BIG TIME! They copied multi-tasking/background apps, cloud support, voice activated services and the notification system...just to name a few things. But now, they're even trying to copy Google, by creating their own maps program! Those are all facts!!! Do some research before making stupid comments!

2. SJisaBitch

Posts: 8; Member since: Nov 02, 2011

whatever ideas apple decides to steal or buy they will be sure to patent it

7. warlockz

Posts: 156; Member since: Oct 10, 2011

I'm sure they will create a gps similar to googles and prob will patent the directional arrows lolz

3. som

Posts: 768; Member since: Nov 10, 2009

Good luck Apple spend all those money $70 billion dollars will get 3D HD Map which is better than Google 3D.

4. warlockz

Posts: 156; Member since: Oct 10, 2011

The google map app on android is definately a great utility and it would be nice to see some sort of text to speech good quality gps on the iphone granted it prob won't be as robust as googles but it will enhance the iphone.

8. Jobes

Posts: 364; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

This is a sad as cricket trying to establish itself as a cell company. Took how many years to get street views for google... Gl Apple

9. ilia1986 unregistered

Introducing in iOS 6: iMaps. Exactly like Google Apps, but with a different new magical logo. Requires a paid subscription of 99.99$ a month to use. Only on the iPhone 5. Introducing in iOS 7: iRadio. Uses the special magical amazing radio transmitter on the iPhone 6 to receive radio signals. Up to 3 radio stations can be added. You can add 2 more via in-app purchases for 9.99$. Only on the iPhone 5S Introducing iOS 8 - A whole new level for iOS. Magical live wallpapers. You can buy them for 2.99$ a piece in iTunes.Only on iPhone 6 Introducing iOS 9 - Magical camera options. Because face it, who cares about the iPhone in 2015. World moved to Android. But just because we still want to make some cash, even though we lost all of our innovation and rely mostly on patent lawsuits to make money - introducing the iPhone 6S. The first iPhone with a 4" screen. Magical and revolutionary.

10. jdrevolution

Posts: 87; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

That sounds incredibly magical! Maybe it'll be rainbow colored magic and they'll say it's a tribute to the original apple too.

11. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

You forgot to ad the fundamental heading to all these great inventions apple will introduc in the future........"this changes everything again"

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 30969; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Halarious and this is from an iOS guy. But funny is funny ,and that was funny.

21. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

no no.. the rumors will say its a 4inch.. when in reality it goes up to a 3.6 inch!! thats all extra magic right there!! lol iOS10- you can now call people by holding the phone ALMOST anyway you want!! :)

107. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

lol.. you really made me laugh .. thanx man !!! .. but seriously all of it sounds very true to me

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