Apple Looks Inwards for Future of Maps
Apple starts working on indoor mapping with the acquisition of WiFiSlam.
Apple is still trying to get back up after knocking itself down with the release of iOS Maps. In case you are not aware, the company decided to develop its own maps application instead of using Google's. This resulted in arguably the most entertaining yet useless mapping experience on handheld devices. However, it seems that Apple is now thinking of taking things to the next level with its new acquisition: the indoor maps company WiFiSlam.
WiFiSlam is a new company that focuses on indoor mapping, as well as indoor position accuracy. The idea of tracking users within a building is not new, but it is starting to take hold as the next step in mapping. Google is currently throwing resources into Indoor Google Maps and has almost 10,000 indoor locations (such as stores and airports) already mapped. The company is able to guide a person through a building with increased accuracy.
WiFiSlam has been making its own developments in accuracy, as it can now pinpoint a user within 2.5 meters of their location using only ambient WiFi signals, meaning you don't even have to connect to them for it to work. As GPS is both a large battery drain and (at best) accurate within 5 meters in a busy city, using it indoors through concrete walls and thick ceilings is like trying to find diamonds with a metal detector. Therefore, being able to track a person indoors with a high accuracy rate is definitely something that Apple will need in the future.
The Wall Street Journal has estimated that the acquisition is worth about $20 million, although currently Apple is saying very little about its plans and purpose for its new purchase. Of course, it rarely does anyway. Since the public apology from Apple CEO about the maps fiasco, many updates have been released aiming to improve the service. Would the addition of accurate and available indoor mapping be enough to pull you back to Apple, or would you rather stick with third party map makers such as Google?