Evidence in iOS 5 that Apple is Building Its Own Mapping Solution

23rd June 2011

Despite statements by Google’s former CEO that Apple had “just” renewed their Map partnership with Google, there appears to be evidence that Apple has been working on its own mapping solution in iOS 5.

It’s certainly no secret that Apple is actively working on some sort of mapping solution. In the past few years, Apple has acquired two mapping companies Placebase and Poly9. The company has also been actively recruiting for job applicants with navigation software experience and has even revealed work on a future crowds-sourced traffic database.

Now, a look at the legal disclaimers found in iOS 5 reveal a new section called “Map Data”. (full text) This section lists licenses from an extensive number of third party companies that provide mapping data and related services.

This entire section is new in iOS 5’s legal section and does not appear to be related to Google’s own mapping data licenses. Google’s own legal terms for their map data is distinct, and many of the companies do not overlap. In fact, one of the listed traffic-data companies is a competitor to Google’s Maps.

The companies listed in iOS 5’s legal notices include the following diverse companies under the “Map Data” section:

CoreLogic offers Parcel data which marks boundaries for of properties to provide positional accuracy in location-based solutions.
Getchee provides location and market data on China, India and Southeast Asia.
Increment P Corp provides location and traffic data for Japan.
Localeze provides local business listings.
MapData Sciences Pty Ltd. Inc provides mapping data for Australia and New Zealand.
DMTI provides postal code data for Canada.
TomTom offers global TeleAtlas mapping data which is also licensed by Google for their map solution.
Urban Mapping provides in-depth neighborhood data such as crime, demographics, school performance, economic indicators and more.
Waze offers real-time maps and traffic information based on crowd sourced data.

The last two companies are perhaps the most interesting. Urban Mapping offers extensive additional data over traditional mapping products. The company was even a partner of Placebase’s back in 2007 before Apple’s acquisition. Meanwhile, Waze seems to be exactly what Apple was talking about when they hinted at crowd-sourced traffic data. Waze offers mobile apps that can be used to send data back to a central database to show realtime traffic data.

Given the news of Apple’s recent agreement with Google, it may be that Apple’s own solution wasn’t ready for iOS 5, so we may have to wait a while before we see what Apple’s been working on.