Apple looks set to bring the fight to Google, with the Apple Maps maker confirming an acquisition that could see indoor maps made available to users, a feature that could appear on the mooted iPhone 6, or iPhone 5S.
In a deal worth a reported $20 million (£1.31m), Apple has acquired tech start-up and Wi-Fi based interior location specialist WifiSLAM, a move that could see the iPad mini maker introduce indoor mapping and location services to its iOS smartphone and tablet users.
Looking to overcome the issues which affect GPS technologies in indoor environments, Apple looks set to build on its much maligned Apple Maps services with indoor location tracking, utilising technologies which use Wi-Fi signals to pinpoint users within a building.
“Allow your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient Wi-Fi signals that are already present in buildings,” the WifiSLAM company description declares.
“We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place,” a spokesperson for the now Apple owned company added. “Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking.”
Seen as a potentially lucrative addition to mapping software, it has been suggested that indoor location tracking would allow companies to offer customers tailored deals and offers based on their location within a shopping centre. Alternatively, indoor tracking could further bolster the dominance of the smartphone, seeing users’ handsets replace the likes of museum audio guides.
Although Apple has yet to formally confirm its plans for WifiSLAM, an official spokesperson stated that the iPhone 5 manufacturer “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.”
Despite having ditched Google in favour of launching its own mapping software alongside the iPhone, Apple Maps has been hit by a raft of issues since launch and has even been branded as unsafe by police services in Australia. Although having undergone dramatic updates, Apple Maps launched with missing and mislocated towns, warped roads and non-existent buildings.
Whilst Apple has yet to offer any indication as to when, or indeed if, it is set to bring indoor mapping to its iOS devices, it has been suggested that the heavily mooted iPhone 6 could be the first device to support the new features.
With a raft of iPhone 6 rumours having already done the rounds, it has been claimed that the iPhone 5 replacement will touch down in 2014, following a 2013 iPhone 5S release date, with an all new form factor and a bevy of high-end specs in tow.