Apple wants Street View for its horrible Maps, patent hints

A recent filing suggests Tim Cook and pals are cooking up their own view-from-the-street tech.

Apple may be keen to boost its street savoir-faire, as a freshly revealed patent describes the company's aspirations for a Street View-style mapping service.

The recently published application, spied by Apple Insider, describes '3D Position Tracking for Panoramic Imagery Navigation.' The from-the-tarmac tech would see you turning and tilting your phone to navigate through panoramic street snaps, and even suggests the ability to peek inside shops.

Always keen to earn a few bob, Apple's patent application also suggests that, once inside a virtual shop, moving your phone forward could be used to do things like, 'selecting an object for purchase.' Cha-ching!

Though recently published, the patent was filed way back in September 2011, weeks after Apple had put the iPhone 4S on sale. It may amount to no more than an intriguing footnote in the history of maps apps, but neatly demonstrates that even then Apple was mindful of making a name for itself in the world of maps.

Apple's own Maps app proved a famous disaster, with those who'd updated their devices to iOS 6 complaining that the accompanying Maps software was ugly, and no good for finding your way around. Our comparison test , which pitted iOS 6 Maps against Google's offering on iOS 5 and Android , found those claims to be justified.

Apple isn't likely to give up on its mapping software, though I suspect it'll need more than its own version of Street View to impress customers.

The patent scornfully says that using conventional street-viewing software is a "tedious experience" due to the need to use a mouse or finger to manually move down a virtual street, before dragging to rotate the app's viewpoint -- although tilting your phone to look around in Street View is a feature Google introduced to iOS in December, when it released its own separate Maps app .

What should Apple do with its Maps app? Would a view from the street make it more useful? Or should it be scrapped entirely? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

Image credit: Apple Insider

 

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