Is Apple readying a Street-View mode to its Map app ?
The patent published on the website of the USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) entitled "3D positioning for navigation based panoramic image" and describes how a graphical user interface could benefit from embedded sensors of iPhone or iPad for navigation via a panoramic imaging (ie a Street-View mode).
According to the document, the invention of Apple not only provide a Street-View mode to users as in Google Maps which is just over an icon to switch to first person view to browse the map with the mouse or via a screen touch and only in available locations with images for Street-View, but also innovate by using existing technology.
Instead of taking the approach of Google, Apple propose a system, based on sensors of the mobile device, calculate the exact position of the user and even to display its movements in a panoramic image based navigation system. In the example below, the accelerometer data, images from the camera, data from gyroscope and other sensors integrated into an iPhone would be exploited to allow the user to move in a virtual environment based on panoramic images of the real world.
To activate the Street-View, Apple's invention will for example let the user to pinch the screen as if to zoom in on specific point on a map or more traditionally by clicking or tapping an icon. Once in the Street-View mode, the user could move the camera from right to left or up and down to browse / view panoramic images of the environment which would be stored internally on the device or via the broadcast networks mobile telecommunication (with all the constraints that it represents). Finally movements will be controlled by tilting the device forward or back as in some video games current iOS.
Internal sensors of the device would collect information continuesly such as the moving speed, the direction taken by the user in the interface to translate its movements inside the user interface navigation system.
On the other hand, the document also explains that additional information could be displayed on the map to indicate point of interest such as buildings, stores, schools, etc. ... This information would be displayed as bubble based on user preferences. In some places the bubbles will be hidden to avoid overloading the screen.
Another improvement described in this patent would be able to enter virtually in a building. Once inside, the user could then perform actions such as taking an item to buy it. For example, a virtual visit to an Apple Store to buy an iPad would be one possible use of this feature.
The current Maps Apple application does not have the Street-View mode, which is logic considering that Apple does not have the appropriate images. Street-View, a feature that is sorely lacking to iOS users, is now available in Google Maps (web and mobile version), implemented by Google through the initiative of the same name.
For the moment we do not know if Apple will add this mode in a future update of the Maps application, but one thing is for sure is that with this patent, the company plans to offer a good alternative to Street-View Google Maps.