As you may know, Apple is quietly migrating away from Google’s Maps platform and developers have already started to program its own version. Once their work will be done, Apple seeks to completely replace Google’s software with an alternative which will not only contain most of the features already experienced in Google Maps, but it will also be different in so many ways.
At the moment, Apple is currently incorporating a 3D Flyover service in iOS 6 alongside other interesting features, which is set to bring a wide range of new features to mobile users, including detailed building outlines, topographical representations of the terrain, fully rendered 3D models of building with the possibility of extended views across far distances and plenty more. Apple’s service is still in beta, so there’s yet not clear winner in this battle, and this story is rather a short presentation of the features that Apple develops in order to please its customers.
Apple’s 3D Map Services could make iOS users forget about Google
The Cupertino based company has lots of ideas that need to be implemented and if the work is properly done, Apple has chances of outpacing Google at its own game, at least in some chapters. Their first move was to remove the casual image capturing used by Google with a vector-based map, which preservers its notations and details in every position required by the user.
Learning from Google’s own mistakes, Apple has made sure that whenever the device was rotated, the name of the streets and other details as such will remain in a proper orientation towards the user, unlike Google Maps, where you have to tilt your head to see properly. And there’s more.
Flyover in iOS 6: rival for Google’s StreetView
In iOS 6, Apple has removed the ability to access Google’s StreetView images which required an Adobe Flash plugin to be rendered and a fleet of cars to picture the streets. Using the means provided by C3 Technology, bought by Apple back in 2011, the company realized that it can offer virtual models of buildings simply by creating outlines and then melding them with photos taken by satellites or even low-altitude airplanes. Using these principles, Apple can offer an arbitrary view from any point of the terrain, without relying on actual footage of the street.
Moreover, navigation through Apple’s 3D Maps will be done without sweet, because the service will not rely on end-to-end attached pictures and nodes users have to pass throughout. The maps ported to iOS 6 will be based on hovering and the user will have the ability to see a continuous representation of a location, without waiting for a picture to be loaded while changing its coordinates with 20 meters. Besides the Google Earth-like navigation, the sheer quality of the system will be above with one level. Here’s a side by side comparison of the two systems.
Photo credits: AppleInsider
Flyover is still fresh, with only some cities being entirely 3D rendered at the moment, but Apple is adding support as we speak.
Flyover will also rely on heavy computing power, because the machine has to model thousands of 3D objects rather than stitching pictures back to back. Taking in consideration, the fact that not all devices may possess such a power, iOS 6′s Flyover will also come with a highly efficient 3D model mode. Activated by a single switch, the service will launch a 3D model of nearby buildings, without showing any pretentious detail. At this chapter, Apple doesn’t set itself apart much from Google, with both companies supplying a sufficient service at a nice quality.
How will Flyover get its data and how can it be used?
Apple hasn’t named its service Flyover for nothing. Instead of relying on a costly fleet of cars rented through 3rd party companies, which stroll every corner of a country’s street, the shiny white company will be betting on an estimative approach obtained through aerial photographs.
This move will cost Apple in the details category a bit, because the level of zoom will be far less than the one Google is currently offering. Navigation quality and privacy protection will unfortunately cost that.
On the other hand, Flyover will allow users to see the backside of building and explore open spaces which cannot be reached on Google’s StreetView. In theory, Apple’s 3D Map service will expose everything which can be seen, right into the normal mode of navigation and unlike Google’s StreetView, where you have to manually switch to the mode.
Although iOS 6 is still to be released, Flyover announces itself as a great feature, which might possibly even arrive on regular Macs.