Apple has confirmed that it is collecting pedestrian-level data as part of a broader initiative to improve its first-party Apple Maps platform.
The Cupertino tech giant quietly revealed the on-foot data collection on its Apple Maps vehicles page, which tracks where Apple cars loaded with sensors and liDAR equipment are heading.
Initially, the pedestrian data collecting will be limited to California — including Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. Besides Los Angeles, most of those counties are located in or near the Bay Area.
The effort reportedly started on Nov 12. and will last through Dec. 23, according to the Apple Maps web page.
The updated Maps page isn’t the only official confirmation that Apple is collecting on-foot data. Back in October, MacRumors reader Dante Cesa shared photos of what appeared to be a pedestrian Apple Maps team member with the publication.
That Apple Maps team member was wearing a large Apple Maps-branded backpack that was seemingly outfitted with a variety of sensors, such as LiDAR, cameras, GPS and other high-tech equipment.
It’s not entirely clear what the on-foot reconnaissance will be used for. But presumably, Apple will leverage that data to improve walking directions and locations in its first-party Apple Maps navigation platform.
Back in June, Apple revealed that it was collecting a massive amount of data in an effort to overhaul Apple Maps from the ground up.
Apple Maps chief Eddy Cue told TechCrunch that the company is looking to take the platform “to the next level.”
“We have been working on trying to create what we hope is going to be the best map app in the world, taking it to the next step. That is building all of our own map data from the ground up,” Cue said.
While Apple Maps vehicles have been driving across the globe for some time now, it seems part of the effort will also include more in-depth on-foot navigation data, including previously unmapped pedestrian walkways and paths.
Some of the fruit of Apple’s efforts were seen in California in the iOS 12 update to Apple Maps. They included more accurate foliage, building, parking lot, sport field data, among other improvements.
While Apple hasn’t announced any additional states or regions besides California, we assume that the pedestrian Maps teams will only grow as time goes on.