The mysterious Apple vans that have been spotted in a number of cities across the United States since the start of 2015 are being used to significantly improve the company’s Maps app. That’s according to a new report from 9to5Mac.
Some rumors originally suggested the minivans could be a prototype for Apple’s rumored self-driving car. But that’s not the case according to the site’s sources.
Most importantly, Apple wants to lessen dependence on third-party mapping providers like TomTom for images and information in the Maps app. Here’s more from the report:
For end users, this change will mean more accurate and rapidly updated data. For Apple, this means more control over the core user experience, and, consequently, less of a need to rely on partners for data to be updated. Apple is notably taking a similar approach to its upcoming indoor mapping feature, which is being developed entirely in-house with iBeacons equipped to small autonomous robots.
The vans are also collecting data for a future 3-D Street View feature. Apple is also having the vehicles capture images of storefronts to possibly include in the iOS 9 Maps app.
We could hear more about the improvements to Maps during WWDC early next month. Along with iOS 9, Apple is expected to unveil OS X 10.11 at the event’s keynote on Monday, June 8.
For other news today, see: Apple offers a fix for that iOS text bug, says permanent solution is incoming, Readdle’s Spark is an innovative new approach to processing your email, and Who will end up owning news aggregator Flipboard?