Apple looks like it's pushing for even more independence in its Maps venture. First was starting it's own Google-free maps alternative, and now the company is hoping to patent its own version of Waze's crowd sourced mapping and traffic service -- a service that Apple currently uses.
Apple crowd source maps patent means Waze's exit may be just ahead
Apple's just filed patent is titled, "User-Specified Route Rating and Alerts," which sounds very similar to the service Waze already offers. The abstract for Apple's patent states,
In some implementations, a user can provide ratings for routes, streets and/or locations. In some implementations, the user can initiate an alert associated with a location. In some implementations, user-specified ratings and alerts can be included in a route determination. In some implementations, route rating and alert information can be transmitted to other users and/or devices.
Apple's patent filing goes on to describe a system where users can get push notifications when someone else adds information about their current route, such as traffic accidents or construction, so they can decide before getting stuck in traffic of they want to fond a different way to their destination.
Filing for a patent doesn't mean that Apple is getting ready to kill its deal with Waze, but it does seem likely. Apple likes to control the user experience as much as possible, and hosting its own traffic crowd sourcing service is a way to take over more of the on-the-go map experience for iPhone users. Google also recently purchased Waze, which may have added a little incentive for Apple to roll its own alternative.
Creating a map and directions service from the ground up is no small task, as Apple has been learning. The company stumbled when it dropped Google Maps with the launch of iOS 6 and has been working hard ever since to recover. As Apple's Maps service continues to improve, the company now seems to be looking at more ways it can move away from partnerships for its own in house offerings.
Regardless of whether or not the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants Apple its super-Waze patent, the company's path seems pretty clear: Use other companies as stepping stones, and when they're ready it's time to go it alone.
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