How does the expression go? If you can't buy them, copy them? I forgot, but I know it is something like that.
Apple, it seems, is interested in patenting a crowd-sourced traffic app, according to a patent filing that was released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday.
"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," the filing, which is from December 2011, says. "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."
The app would work by having a user put in a start point and an end point. The app would then give them multiple routes to get from point A to point B, which they can choose based on user ratings. Ratings can include certain characteristics, such as one that is more scenic.
In addition, there would be "User Initiated Alerts," such as if one route has an accident that is causing bad traffic, the user can warn others that are using the app to avoid that route, and can even say how long they think the problem will last.
So, you may be asking, why is it significant that Apple wants to develop this type of technology?
Because the idea sounds awfully similar to Waze, a company that Apple was well known to be interested in buying.
Waze encourages drivers to get into their cars and share driving conditions and experiences with other members of the online community. In return, Waze provides real-time information on the circulation and short-cuts, while making suggestions for stops along the way. Sound similar at all?
It was said that Apple even made an offer for the company, one that Waze was rumored to have turned down, though Apple CEO Tim Cook insists that no bid was actually made. Either way, the company was sold to Apple's rival Google in June for a reported $1.3 billion on the company.
And now it looks like Apple is going to go ahead and just create its own app to compete.
Google vs Apple
Google and Apple have not exactly been the best of friends with it comes to mapping apps in the past.
Google Maps was the default mapping application on iOS until it was dropped from iOS 6 in September. Apple instead replaced it with its own maps app called Apple Maps, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time
Unfortunately for Apple, and even more for iOS users, Apple Maps, well... it sucked. It sucked so bad that Apple CEO Tim Cook not only apologized for it, but he actually offered suggestions to iOS users about what other maps services they could use!
The reaction toward Apple Maps was so harsh that by the end of September, less a month after debuting, only 4% of iOS users were opening the app at all. And, at the time, Google Chairman, and former CEO, Eric Schmidt told reporters that Google has not submitted its own Maps app to the App Store for consideration.
All looked lost until Google surprised everyone by debuting its iOS app in December. And it turns out that people missed it to so much that the app was downloaded 10 million times in the first 48 hours it was available (you can count me as one of the 10 million).
Now it looks as though they are about to go head-to-head on map crowd-sourcing as well.
Apple could not be reached for comment.
(Image source: http://drstevegreene.com)