Apple Maps App with Interactive Data Layers Detailed in New Patent

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple has filed for a United States patent (via AppleInsider) detailing an interactive mapping program that allows users to view different layers of information based on factors such as location, points of interest, and the context of a current situation. While the concept of various layers of information for digital maps is not new, Apple seeks to enhance layering by drawing upon several types of information based on the user's needs through various "modes".

The patent introduces itself by describing the problem with existing maps applications and the need for a user to rely on multiple ones in order to gain a complete set of information relevant to a current situation. For instance, the patent gives an example of a user who views a weather map and sees that a storm is coming, and then has to switch to another app to locate a shopping mall or nearby building to take refuge while the storm passes.

The application described in the patent however, would essentially contain all of the various types of information for quick and unified access. With the application in patent, the user in the first example would be able to reveal the weather layer to note that a storm was coming, and then hide that layer and reveal another one giving the locations of nearby buildings to reach safety.
In another aspect, user input can be directed at specific features displayed on the map, such as clicking a mouse button while a cursor is positioned over a dot representing a city, or touching a highway indicator on a map displayed on a touch screen device. In response to such input, the map displays information that pertains to the feature of interest. For instance, clicking on a city dot might result in the display of information pertaining to the city, such as demographics, hotels, flight schedules, etc. Touching a highway indicator, such as a route number shield, may cause the map to display the locations of fueling stations, hotels and restaurants along the route.
Users would also be able to select different modes in order to emphasize map layers that could be useful to a particular interest, such as a commuting mode that would reveal the locations of nearby trains or bus stops and their specific transit times. Other modes could include a shopping mode that would reveal information while in a mall about special deals and sales, similar in nature to how shopping app Shopkick and Macy's teamed up for the first retail-based iBeacons last month that allowed customers to find location-specific deals, discounts and recommendations while looking at items in the store.

This would also be relevant to search results, as searching the word "food" in tourist mode would give results for locations such as restaurants and cafes, while searching the same term in the outdoor recreation mode would give the locations of camping supply stores.

Another application would be the ability to create routes by touching two points on a map with distance calculations, which would also give the best possible route to select based on context. For instance, if a person is deciding what route to take across a certain area, the mapping application would show the best possible route in terms of traffic density, possible restaurants, weather, and so forth.

Finally, the application would also include geospatial capabilities that can be integrated to provide information based on a specific location. For instance, if a user had a tourism mode toggled and walked through a location of historical significance, then information about facts related to the area could pop up to compliment an experience.

While it is unknown as to whether Apple will actually integrate the technology detailed in the patent into its existing Maps application, the company clearly continues to look to improve its mapping services, as evidenced by a number of recent acquisitions.

For instance, Apple's purchases of companies such as Embark, HopStop, and Locationary would allow it to pursue some of the mapping capabilities discussed in the patent, and could also be bolstered by the technology provided by PrimeSense, another recent acquisition. With Apple Maps now the clear-cut favorite among iOS users, it would only make sense that Apple look to improve the app beyond any other effort from its competitors.

Article Link: Apple Maps App with Interactive Data Layers Detailed in New Patent
 

maflynn

Moderator
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May 3, 2009
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Interesting but I think Apple has a long way to go to improve the quality of the app much less add new features
 
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Mac-Mariachi

macrumors regular
Jan 29, 2002
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0
Monterrey, Mexico
Glad to see Apple pushing ahead with their mapping business. I have seen lots of improvements in the last year to their maps so I´m confident they will get there in a year or two.
 
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Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
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Washington DC
So that sketched map shows my current location.

I'm glad to see Apple is customizing their patent applications so that each and every viewer gets to see a drawing based on their current location.

That's gotta be hard to pull off.
 
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taptic

macrumors 65816
Dec 5, 2012
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California
Maybe now I can take this down... I was using it for all the Android-lovers...

Not that Apple maps is my favorite, it's just I've gotten a bit tired of everyone whining about it all the time.
 
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firedept

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Jul 8, 2011
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I have yet to see a fix to Apple Maps. Yet they move ahead with patents. Sent 3 reports of a problem with both hybrid and satellite view of my area and no fix. Been waiting since the most recent release.

I am glad to see that some people are seeing improvements though. Maybe they are just behind. Guess I will continue to use the other map apps until it gets better. Would like to move over to Apple Maps though.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
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Apple Maps is by and far my favorite for getting around cities because of the 3D view. It's so amazingly easy to find your way around when you're out and about on foot. It also works pretty well as a GPS.

I don't like the ideas in this patent, though. It seems far more likely to just add a lot of bloat to the Maps app. A weather radar, for example, should go in the weather app, not in the maps app. And personally, I think more important improvements need to be made to the weather app, like including precipitation amounts rather than just the % chance of precipitation (1" of snow and 1' of snow are very different in how much they impact my planning), as well as offering ~36 hours of hourly details instead of just 12. IDK if Yahoo weather offers these details or not... if they don't, Apple should switch to a better provider, like The Weather Channel.
 
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mdorais

macrumors regular
Apr 28, 2008
125
89
I still wish Apple would listen to everyday user input on their map app. My hometown of 126,000 people still doesn't have a hospital listed when obviously there is a very large one. I submitted a problem report when it first came out but over a year later there still is no hospital shown in my city.

I would consider a hospital location pretty important for any size city.
 
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LagunaSol

macrumors 601
Apr 3, 2003
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How about a freaking patent for fixing the two misspelled street names in my neighborhood I've reported to Apple via the app like 15 times now. :mad:

I've gone from Google fan to anti-Google fan over the past couple of years, but at least they make mapping changes their users submit (I've done it). Seriously Apple, pull it together.
 
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MikhailT

macrumors 601
Nov 12, 2007
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I don't like the ideas in this patent, though. It seems far more likely to just add a lot of bloat to the Maps app. A weather radar, for example, should go in the weather app, not in the maps app. And personally, I think more important improvements need to be made to the weather app, like including precipitation amounts rather than just the % chance of precipitation (1" of snow and 1' of snow are very different in how much they impact my planning), as well as offering ~36 hours of hourly details instead of just 12. IDK if Yahoo weather offers these details or not... if they don't, Apple should switch to a better provider, like The Weather Channel.
They're just data layers, it doesn't bloat the app. If you don't find them useful, then turn off the layers you don't need.

The layers would be very light to use because you don't really download the data until it is needed, just like the mapping data itself.
 
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KdParker

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Oct 1, 2010
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Not worthy of a patent. I hope the Supreme Court kills all software patents. It's coming up.
Was thinking the same thing, but not sure I am completely sold on getting rid of all software patents. However, this one seems to broad.
 
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hansonjohn590

macrumors 6502
Sep 14, 2013
353
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I still fail to see why this requires a patent, I've seen other apps have 'layers' as described (although they may not have as much as information as this one, the idea is out there).
 
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pickaxe

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2012
760
284
'Interactive Layers' have been on map software for about a decade, give or take a few years. It's ridiculous that this is patentable.
 
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clickerclacker

macrumors newbie
Aug 14, 2013
17
1
Great idea, Apple. I look forward to it.

Could you also please remove the location of my local B&Q from a nearby housing estate to its proper place? Thanks ever so.
 
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bluespark

macrumors 68000
Jul 11, 2009
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Chicago
Interesting but I think Apple has a long way to go to improve the quality of the app much less add new features
Exactly. A year after Apple Maps was released, I still don't see most public transportation stations in New York or Chicago, and I'm sure that's true for other cities as well. This is basic, basic stuff, and it is still missing. Can't Apple be bothered to add things people actually depend on, even while working on "next generation" features?
 
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macUser2007

macrumors 65832
May 30, 2007
1,504
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Seems like there would be a lot of prior art here...

(IANAL)
Yep.

Apple has become a patent troll.

Even if granted (since Apple seems to have an inside track at the USPTO), stuff like this would likely fail if challenged.

The problem is, any start up trying to innovate would be squashed by the simple threat of expensive litigation.

Bad for innovation, bad for consumers.
 
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