As it stands, Apple relies very heavily on third-party mapping information for its Maps service. This means that as far as the accuracy of the information is concerned, Apple is pretty much at the mercy of these third-party services such as TomTom and also on user submitted reports and corrections.
This is compared to Google who constantly has vehicles on the road to collect and update their own in-house mapping database. However according to recent images captured, it turns out that Apple has been stepping up their efforts as several Apple-leased vans with mapping technology have been spotted out and about on the streets gathering data.
Apparently this is to help the Cupertino company build up their own in-house mapping database to reduce their reliance on third-party companies. Given how Apple designs their products which involves creating their own technology, this move hardly comes as a surprise. However if you’re hoping to see this data integrated into the Maps service, you could be in for a wait as Apple expects that their own database should be up and running by 2017/2018.
The vehicles have also been equipped with cameras to capture Street View data. This effort by Apple is in response to Google’s Street View which the Cupertino company does not believe is particularly intuitive to the user, so they are currently exploring new ways in which to present said information.
All of this seems to be part of Tim Cook’s promise in 2012 to work “non-stop” until their Maps service is finally up to scratch. Apple has also recently acquired Metaio, an augmented reality company in which some believe could be used in enhancing its Points of Interest feature in its Maps app.