Apple, in a path eerily similar to the path that Google took during their first years of on-line mapping, has publicly acknowledged that their vans are being used to supplement their Maps data.
Google Maps was first rolled out in February of 2005 and started their StreetView program in May, 2007 in only five cities (Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and San Francisco). By October, 2009 Google had replaced TeleAtlas ( having switched from Navteq a year earlier) as their data supplier in the US with their own base map and road geometry data from StreetView.
Apple Maps was rolled out in September, 2012 and Apple’s street view vans were first spotted in February of this year, 29 months after the introduction of Maps compared to Google’s 27 months. Given that Apple, like Google, is building their capacity internally they can’t be expected to move significantly faster than Google. They do however have the benefit of being able to study Google’s history and priorities which might allow them to avoid some of Google’s pitfalls.
Apple is driving vehicles around the world to collect data which will be used to improve Apple Maps. Some of this data will be published in future Apple Maps updates.
We are committed to protecting your privacy while collecting this data. For example, we will blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication.
In addition Apple is listing all of the cities that they will be driving in during the second two weeks of June in the US, UK and Ireland:
Dublin (Dublin City [Ashtown, Ballybough, Ballyfermot, Ballygall, Ballymun, Beaumont, Cabra, Chapelizod, Cherry Orchard, Clontarf, Coolock, Crumlin, Donaghmede, Drimnagh, Drumcondra, East Wall, Fairview, Finglas, Firhouse, Glasnevin, Inchicore, Irishtown, Kilbarrack, Kilmainham, Kilmore, Kimmage, Knocklyon, North Wall, Pembre, Phibsborough, Raheny, Rathfarnham, Rathgar, Rathmines, Ringsend, Sandymount, Santry, Templeogue, Terenure, The Liberties, Walkinstown, Whitehall], Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal, South Dublin)
East of England
Essex (Brentwood, Epping Forest), Hertfordshire (Broxbourne, Dacorum, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers, Watford, Welwyn Hatfield)
Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth
Kent (Dartford, Sevenoaks), Surrey (Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Spelthorne)
Birmingham (Sutton Coldfield, Perry Barr, Erdington, Ladywood, Hodge Hill, Yardley, Edgbaston, Hall Green, Selly Oak, Northfield), Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Staffordshire, Walsall, Warwickshire, Worcestershire
California: Alameda (Oakland), Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
Florida: Orange County (Orlando)
Georgia: Fulton (Atlanta)
Hawaii: Hawaii (Oahu)
Illinois: Cook (Chicago)
Massachusetts: Suffolk (Boston)
Michigan: Wayne (Detroit)
Missouri: St. Louis (St. Louis)
New York: New York (New York City)
Texas: Dallas (Dallas), Tarrant (Fort Worth)
Utah: Salt Lake (Salt Lake City)
Washington: King (Seattle)
What? No Olean? Hello?Apple Confirms Vans are for Maps Data Improvement - Discloses Future Locations by Mike Blumenthal