back to article All right, who guessed 'street mapping' for those mystery Apple vans? Congratulations

Apple has revealed that its weird camera-mounted vans, seen roaming the California, are being used to gather images for a street mapping app. The Cupertino giant wrote on its website that it will be taking vehicles mounted with cameras around Europe and the US to gather street-level snaps for Apple Maps for iOS and OS X – …

  1. NoneSuch

    Just get the fanbois to walk around with their phone out and camera on.

    I mean, they do it anyway just to show off the Apple logo so make em do something constructive.

  2. SuccessCase

    Given the car has multiple camera sensors spaced widely apart, I expect Apple will be capturing 3D data and mapping textures.

  3. deanb01

    Bah humbug

    Why stop at two global companies reinventing the ark? Anyone else fancy driving cars around the entire planet to street map it?

    1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: Bah humbug

      Can I get paid by the mile?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah humbug

      Kinda what occurred to me. So much friggin' wasted effort.

      How many different sets of pictures of the roads do we need anyway?

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Bah humbug

        Don't forget that all those pictures have to be updated so they can keep track of where you park, whether you moved and to check your wifi. Someone has to keep track of which car and house goes with which wireless router and iPhone. I mean what if you moved to a nicer place, bought a new Mercedes or just visited a friend? How else would they know you had money you're not giving them?

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Bah humbug

      You'd think with the money they've got they'd have the common sense to know when to buy out something (Here) and when not to (Beats). Sadly not.

    4. Oneman2Many

      Re: Bah humbug

      navteq have been driving around for sometime gathering information using lidar equipped cars. This is better than google street view, don't know how if compares to what apple is doing.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah humbug

      Maybe Apple could buy a courier company and put cameras on the delivery vans. Wins all round.

      (Courier vans are apparently how Skyhook Wireless, the pioneering WiFi-SSID-to-location company, got started. But I'm sure Apple could find a way of patenting the idea somehow)

  4. ma1010 Silver badge

    It's about time

    Considering how well the previous incarnation of Apple Maps worked, perhaps they've decided to gather some accurate data this time around.

  5. Paul

    crashed into a Apple Streetview Van?

    then you must have been driving it wrong

  6. Alister Silver badge

    For the UK, street mapping will be done in Essex, Greater London, Kent, and Birmingham

    Really comprehensive coverage of the UK, there...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      So there IS life north of the Watford Gap!!

    2. PNGuinn

      Thanks el reg

      Thanks for the warning

      <evil grin>

      Returns to laboratory to develop large animated autoinflatable maggot (with rounded corners) in time for photoshoot.

      Thinks - Would I get crowd funding to mass produce these?

      So - theyr'e going to blur out numbers and faces. What about all the other activities google are famous for capturing? Will it be possible to add info or images their maps? Can an apple pee on an android? Evil minds need to know etc.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cool thing about google street view was that it had such good coverage when it went live. 15 days of capturing and only a select few cities sounds like more often than not where you want will not be covered. Another epic fail there Apple

    1. chr0m4t1c

      1) It's not going live yet, they're collecting data.

      2) The shows where they're going to be *this month* not *ever*. Beware of bad journalism.

      Will they cover everywhere when they launch? Probably not, but then as someone who lives in an area that wasn't covered by Streetview for the first two or three years I would say that Streetview's initial coverage was not "good" when it launched.

  8. Mr.Mischief

    Street View 2.0

    I suppose this will go just like any sequel. No matter how much you try or how much money you throw at it, it will always be compared to and worse than the original.

  9. Charles Manning

    I'm confused...

    Apple is an immensely warmist company making huge press about buying renewable energy etc etc etc. Heck they even have Al Gore on their board of directors.

    Google does not seem much different with their head honchos all warmists.

    Yet they all seem to be OK with driving two sets of vehicles all over the planet to gather duplicate data.

    We'll leave aside the fact they all fly around in corporate jets (as well as a fighter jet).

    How does anyone take them seriously?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused...

      I don't think that a few more gallons of fossil fuels will make a whole lot of difference.

      With the fuel burned playing air force for Al Qaeda in Yemen one could probably go to Street View version 10'000.

    2. James Cane

      Re: I'm confused...


      You people frighten me. Badly.

      The more scientists agree that it's real, it's coming, it's bad, and we need to do something, the more people like you stick your heads in the sand and pretend it's a political conspiracy.

      Grow up.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this |Tim Worstall

    being proved right ?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Is this |Tim Worstall

      Even a stopped clock...

      1. James Cane

        Even a stopped clock...

        ... is right twice more in a day than Tim Worstall.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    need a new option now that GOOGLE have Killed Classic Google maps

    I Hope that they extend the coverage and give an option to GOOGLE maps as they are Killing Classic view and the "NEW" Google maps is SH*T has missing features, has boxes all over the screen. does not zoom in as close as the old map (im house hunting so this helps before deciding to drive to another city to view a property I.R.L.) and loads more gripes about the new version. (I DONT LIKE IT)

    until recently you could choose the old view but not any more. :-(

    Not that Google will listen to its customers as its customers are really advertising multi nationals and we are just data pawns. but sign the petition to keep classic view on google maps

    Bing Maps is just not an option. the resolution is lower and its way out of date. the building i live in at the moment was built 6 years ago and its just a hole in the ground on Bing maps :-(

    so some GOOD alternatives are needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      have you tried HERE or your app store

      daft name, but origins in Navteq, Nokia Maps, etc

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: need a new option now that GOOGLE have Killed Classic Google maps

      Printing is pretty broken in the new Google Maps. Classic view allowed to to preview and adjust prints in a preview window. It was one of the best features. Printing is pretty much a hit and miss affair now.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do Apple camera vans...

    ....go rounded corners?

    And do they handle right?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You want rounded corners with that?


  14. Blank-Reg
    Paris Hilton

    Excellent, can we expect a new round of silliness when they capture pictures of Viking frogmen, everyone mooning and Americans that fit the stereotype!

  15. Lionel Baden

    why not just ...

    Design a low profile version (or just streamlined) and go speak with DHL, or the post office.

    Would be a great way to get decent coverage, over a random area, although i do get that this wont get "Every" road, it will cut down on the need to do a good 90% of them

  16. Cuddles Silver badge

    Call me crazy

    ...but isn't gathering map data something they should have done before releasing a map app, rather than 3 years later?

  17. Grandad

    Use English when in the UK

    I hope they will also blur licenCe plates too

  18. Mr Templedene

    So they ignored the north, guess they know their market then ;)

  19. FBee

    On a related note - Apple wardriving

    A decade ago I was employed (informally as a contractor) and issued a PDA with an accessory "black box" that had GPS & wireless capability which plugged into my car's power tap. The whole contraption, wired together as it was, sat on the car dashboard although the PDA itself was to be attached to the windscreen in typical smartphone fashion on a l-o-n-g flex-neck the likes of which I've never seen since. The PDA booted right into a wifi logging program that recorded GPS coordinates/MAC addresses/time & date of every passing access point - a precursor to what every smartphone does these days via tiny embedded chips...but with a much stronger external antenna. Unfortunately no GPS mapping available to Yours Truly the driver of the automobile, as all results were recorded directly into the PDA.

    VERY unfortunate as I would simply receive an emailed territory map and be tasked with driving up and down every accessibly road within said territory. Not too bad in the countryside but in crowded areas I had to highlight (on my printed map) each roadway as traversed - all those Avenues A/B/C and dead-end side streets get confusing after a while. Had to drive for at least 30 hours weekly (at $15 an hour and pay for my own fuel) to remain on contract but could freely choose hours/days for the task. At the end of each day I would upload the day's records via a stop at the local Starbucks, about the only widespread free wifi outfit at the time at least here in the U.S.A. One particularly long 12-hour day (spent in a major city) there were upwards of 100,000 results uploaded...and this was back in 2004!!

    I could stop at any time to take in the sights/food/whatever but also had to log such "timeouts" which were easily tracked by Skyhook. I even ended up annotating the maps with exceptional sightings as I drove up (and often back down) every single local street in an aimless fashion always worrying the authorities would notice and label my car as suspicious.

    Best job I ever had! Despite the seeming tedium I found enjoyment in the variety of neighborhoods spied upon, fully satisfying some kind of wanderlust in the process. When I finally got a Real Job it was sort of sad to give it up. I had no idea but apparently Skyhook was providing this data to Apple for their (at the time) GPS-less mapping functions.

  20. Rick Brasche

    so if they were just doing street mapping

    why did they have laser scanning units? the one I saw in San Jose had two oscillating mirror scanners as well as the multiple cameras and a hub connected sensor.

    GPS and the cameras give all the necessary street view for maps. Scanners are for machine level recognition of relative positions. Hub mounted sensors for speed and distance travelled are best for dead reckoning navigation, which isn't very good when satellite positioning is available.

    1. Nifty

      Re: so if they were just doing street mapping

      Um you did notice the drivers seat was empty?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019