Apple’s vans are collecting next-gen Maps data, grabbing Street View storefronts and 3D images

“Three years after Apple launched its own iOS Maps app to replace Google as its iPhone and iPad map provider, the Cupertino company is readying its first major enhancements to the service,” Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac.

“While Apple was known to be gearing up for the launch of a mass transit directions service this fall in a handful of cities, sources have revealed that it is also developing its first entirely in-house mapping database to reduce its reliance on TomTom, using a fleet of mysterious vans to take still photos of business storefronts to replace Yelp photos, and building a 3D Street View feature,” Gurman reports. “Apple has been using the sensor-equipped vans in cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York since earlier this year, and, below, we detail how the vehicles are advancing Apple’s plans for the future of Maps.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we reported on April 6, 2015:

“These are mapping vehicles for a feature coming to Apple Maps, a trusted source tells us.”


Apple mystery van spotted in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – February 20, 2015
Video reveals close-up look of Apple’s mystery van project – February 17, 2015
Apple mystery van spotted in San Diego – February 10, 2015
Apple’s sensor-covered minivans invade Texas – April 6, 2015
Apple testing mysterious camera-equipped vehicles – February 4, 2015
U.S. patent application reveals Apple is working on ‘Street View’ mapping technology – April 4, 2013


  1. Haven’t seen any recent reports of the vans being spotted in the wild. Anyone know where they are? How many are there? Are they tapping into my wifi like Google? (the last one was joke.)

  2. And of course, all the tech pundit websites claimed at first that Apple was building a self-driving car, and that this was the first step toward an Apple Car.

    Naturally, once that happened, Forbes, Reuters, Bloomberg et al ran with the incorrect rumor as if it were a fact, and a meme was born.

    Does anybody bother to measure twice, cut once and do some basic fact-checking these days? Is that too damned much to ask?

    Apparently, it is.

    One look at a photo of one of the vans and it was instantly obvious to me that these were for mapping, not prototypes of a self-driving car. And mind you, I’m anything but a genius, much less Nostrodomus 2.0. (If you’re Nostrodomus, you already knew that. A long time ago.)

    Stuff like this makes me crazy. These chowderheads are probably being paid a ton for being wildly inaccurate and arriving at conclusions by anatomic extraction. Outright lies and completely inaccurate reporting about Apple fly around like confetti after a Super Bowl parade. And even when they’re proven to be false, the pundits act as if nothing happened. They’ve moved on, protected by their hubris and Doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

    Pundits and drive-by media. They walk among us. And they reproduce. May God have mercy on us all.

    1. There’s little to be done about them, as it’s obvious by now that the chuckleheads are more Gossips than Journalists, an adaptation of the breed to the business model of internet commerce. And as the big dog, Apple gets clotheslined most often. But here’s the thing: Apple can do something about it. Their secrecy fetish is counterproductive. If they weren’t so goddam coy about their work, most of these bullshit rumors would dry up and blow away. Reporters could report, instead of tapping a grapevine of informers to form semi-coherent theories.

  3. Google, in setting up its maps, had vans patrolling streets, similar to what Apple is now doing. I recall that Google was subsequently pinged in the courts for illegally collecting people’s Wifi information or something.

  4. Last Saturday I was getting ready to drive to an Apple Store 45 miles away from me. Apple Maps couldn’t give me directions with the link from the  Store app. Had to use Google Maps for directions. I’m in Santa Cruz CA traveling to Palo Alto CA in the heart of Silicon Valley.😱😖 can you believe that?😩

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