According to a new job advertisement placed on their website, Apple is looking to hire a new expert to ‘radically improve’ the way that people interact with maps and location services on their iOS devices. The advertisement, spotted by 9to5Mac, indicates that Apple is looking to improve the Maps app on the iPhone and iPad, although the advert is suffiently vague enough to avoid any indications of how they might do this.
The iOS Maps app is based on Google Maps technology. It is unlikely that Apple is going to move away from this given that Google already has such comprehensive coverage in place. What is likely, however, is that Apple are looking for new ways to improve the interaction with the application and this, one could speculate, could point very strongly towards more augented reality features in the app.
One of the coolest features of Google Maps on iOS devices is street view. If Apple were to take advantage of the rear video cameras in the iPad 2 and iPhone, combined with the gyroscope and GPS functions, then they could implement some amazing augmented reality functions into the Maps app. Using location services and local information pulled from Google Maps could really transform the Maps app, overlaying streamed information on the screen in real time.
Of course, the downsides to this are that it would suck up a fair amount of bandwidth and may require 4G networks or wireless for the amount of data that would need to be exchanged. You will also likely start bumping into a exponentially larger amount of people wandering down a street staring at the screen of their iOS device. Fun.
There are already plenty of augmented reality apps available for iOS devices but Apple could potentially make this all their own by putting their own twist on it. As we talked about back in December, Apple has acquired two mapping companies, Poly9 and Placebase, technologies from which could be used very effectively in augmented reality and 3D mapping applications. However, given that Apple is advertising the position now, it is likely that a fair bit of time is going to pass before we see anything in a form for public release.