U.S. patent application reveals Apple is working on ‘Street View’ mapping technology

“An Apple patent application discovered on Thursday hints that the company is looking to deploy on mobile devices a virtual navigation system based on panoramic location data, much like the popular ‘Street View’ seen in Google Maps,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple’s ‘3D Position Tracking for Panoramic Imagery Navigation’ describes a graphical user interface that leverages an iPhone or iPad’s onboard sensors to navigate panoramic imagery,” Campbell reports. “According to the filing, Apple’s invention improves upon current technology, like Google’s Street View, which boxes users into a “bubble” that can only be navigated through an input device like a mouse or multitouch screen. For example, in a conventional GUI, the user must “jump” to a panoramic “bubble” at a given intersection and pan within said bubble to move in a desired direction; a tedious experience for mobile device users on the go.”

Campbell reports, “Instead of the traditional approach, Apple proposes tracking subsystems and onboard sensors deployed within a mobile device be used to translate a user’s physical motion into a panoramic navigation UI.”

Read much more, and see Apple patent application illustrations, in the full article here.


  1. I am going to go out on a limb here. I can’t imagine how Apple can do this, without running afoul to Google, who has this pretty much locked up tight.

    Who else has street view? Flyover is the only thing that’s different enough to work. I am thinking, maybe if they took street view data, and pasted it over flyover renderings. This would give you street view details and not run into patent issues. It might even be more cool.

    1. If you are referring to any Google Street View patents, the way patents are (supposed to) work is that it is only the execution (software and technology that makes Street View work) that can be protected, not the idea of Street View.

      Anyone is free to develop different technology that produces the same result, they just can’t do it the same way Google did. Even then, I’m not sure that all patents Google may have on hardware technology may be valid.

      For example… setting up multiple cameras to shoot panoramic shots is probably not something enforceable due to prior art (and probable existing patents). Ditto on putting them on a moving vehicle.

      However, the particular hardware for mounting them and linking them together could be a different matter.

  2. Downloaded the Google Maps app just to take a peek. Ugly. I love Apple’s graphics.

    BTW, since I haven’t given Google Maps access to Location Services, can someone tell me if it does voice-guided turn-by-turn directions?

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