Apple buys third mapping company; Apple Maps coming soon?

It’s no surprise that Apple has been on the outs with Google for some time. Back in April, after it was revealed that Apple was tracking iPhone users to “build a crowd-sourced traffic database”, it was safe to infer that we would soon see the end of Google Maps on iOS. Shortly after, rumors were quelled when Apple re-upped their contract with Google but as Search Engine Land suggest, this may have very well be a stop-gap until a totally Cupertino based map solution is available.

That day seems more like an inevitability than ever before; Apple very quietly purchased 3D mapping company C3 Technologies over the weekend with very little buzz being stirred up. The Sweden-based C3 Technologies is most famous for providing 3D mapping for Nokia’s Ovi Maps, it’s safe to say that with Apple’s latest acquisition, Ovi Maps will be moving to Bing for their future mapping needs.

The mapping technology developed C3 does appear head and shoulders above the competition’s offerings. In fact if you look at the video above, that’s the closest you’ll see the New York City skyline without taking one of those helicopter tours of the city (related: that’s one pretty 125-year-old Lady there). The attention paid to detail pays off dividends and is best summed up by the following:

C3 uses modern camera equipment to capture as many as one image per second of the same object from up to 100 different angles. The images are then used to automatically reproduce the shape of the objects with very high accuracy. After that, an image processing software automatically drapes each shape with the texture chosen from the pictures of each object. The same process is being applied for all objects – buildings, houses, trees, and hills – the result is a seamless canvas of 3D-data where the resolution (8 to 12 centimeters per pixel) and quality is consistent over the entire model. This is the secret to C3 maps’ realistic look compared to competitors’ hand-made and cartoonish appearance …

That’s the kind of attention paid to detail that we’ve come to expect from Apple and any of their partners. It’s a ballsy move to be sure and it would be curious to see if there will be any backlash from Apple’s customer base if one day Google Maps (the service they’ve grown familiar with) is no longer available to them.

Source: Search Engine Land

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