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Apple Looks Inwards for Future of Maps

By - Source: Bits | B 12 comments

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?

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  • 6 Hide
    kensingtron , March 28, 2013 3:25 AM
    No amount of money will fill the hole known as Apple maps.
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , March 28, 2013 4:07 AM
    Based on the previous Apple Maps fiasco, I fully expect when rolled out to ask where to find the desk of the Director of Marketing and it takes me to a bathroom cubicle
  • 6 Hide
    aidyn66 , March 28, 2013 4:55 AM
    "Acquisition", not "accusation", at the end of paragraph one.
  • Display all 12 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    icepick314 , March 28, 2013 5:22 AM
    looking forward to news where Apple Indoor Maps guiding people to fire exits and over the balcony and rooftops...
  • 4 Hide
    COLGeek , March 28, 2013 5:31 AM
    ...and they were never seen again as they wandered aimlessly through the Mall of No Return looking for the Apple Store therein.
  • 0 Hide
    mugiebahar , March 28, 2013 5:51 AM
    I guess there was some problems, but I never had any real problems. Not saying its as good as google maps, but its wasn't that bad.
  • 3 Hide
    the1kingbob , March 28, 2013 6:38 AM
    mugiebaharI guess there was some problems, but I never had any real problems. Not saying its as good as google maps, but its wasn't that bad.


    I think the biggest problem was Apple removed the best map app and replaced it with a worse-in-house app. On top of that, you had no say in the matter. You just upgraded and bam your phone just got terrible at navigation even though apple could have given the end user a choice. This is where I don't understand why MS gets flack for their browser, Apple replaced a 3rd party provided app with an in house for the sake of money and competition and at the cost of the end user.
  • 2 Hide
    southernshark , March 28, 2013 7:31 AM
    Well hell if outdoor maps don't work, focus on indoor maps. I have a hard time imagining much use for this.... some slight use... maybe.... much use... no. Typically finding the building is the hard part, at that point you look for a directory... takes about 5 minutes... about the same time as using this app.
  • 0 Hide
    house70 , March 28, 2013 8:59 AM
    LOL. Another Apple failure in the making. I hope Cook has his apology already drafted.
  • 0 Hide
    RaZZ3RDeath , March 28, 2013 9:14 AM
    I think the right combination is: The most useless yet entertaining, when you're extremely bored, map app.
  • 0 Hide
    abbadon_34 , March 28, 2013 4:40 PM
    The article misses the point. This is about Apple tracking you down to a couple feet and selling that information to the stores in the area, and eventually the government.
  • 0 Hide
    pacomac , March 29, 2013 1:28 AM
    the1kingbobI think the biggest problem was Apple removed the best map app and replaced it with a worse-in-house app. On top of that, you had no say in the matter. You just upgraded and bam your phone just got terrible at navigation even though apple could have given the end user a choice. This is where I don't understand why MS gets flack for their browser, Apple replaced a 3rd party provided app with an in house for the sake of money and competition and at the cost of the end user.


    Google Maps for iOS didn't include navigation which is why Apple made the move, so Apple Maps introduced a free navigation app which users didn't previously have. Apple Maps isn't actually that bad, and now users have Google Maps with navigation as a direct result. Win win for iOS users... The only problem is Google Maps isn't as good as the original version created with Apple.
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