Apple has dropped Google Maps as the default maps app for iOS more than two years ago. Since then, it has been working consistently to improve its mapping service. However, Apple Maps still lacks a rival to Google’s Street View, but if this fresh report is anything to go by, then things could change soon.
It seems that a number of minivans with camera equipment and a LiDAR sensor mounted to the roof have appeared around California in recent weeks. At least one of the vehicles is registered to Apple, as the California Department of Motor Vehicles has confirmed to San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX.
Along with cameras, the cars were equipped with what seems to be LiDAR sensors. These work on a laser-based technology used to make high-resolution maps and are also part of the sensing systems on self-driving vehicles. Here are some more details:
By the looks of it, Apple isn't planning to take on Google's self-driving car, but rather on its Street View tool. Therefore, Apple is probably testing its tools for a mapping program that would be similar to Google's Street View platform.
However, there's also a chance that Apple isn't planning to release a Street View competitor, but rather it's looking to improve the accuracy of its current map app. It can do so by tracking the cars route with GPS and other sensors which are not associated with photography.
For now, Apple hasn't commented on this matter, so this leaves room to a lot of speculation. We'll be keeping an eye on this and will report if we hear more.