Apple is driving cars around the UK and Ireland, taking pictures for its own version of Google’s Street View.
The cars will spend the latter half of this month driving around the East of England, Greater London, the South East, the West Midlands and Leinster in Ireland. They’ll then move around the rest of the two countries, with Apple hosting a special part of its website to provide updates on where the cars are.
Apple says that it is “committed to protecting your privacy while collecting” the data, and that it will blur faces and number plates before any pictures are published. The company invites users to get in contact if they have questions about the process.
The company said on the special page that it “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,” it explains.
Apple has long been thought to be developing its own version of Google’s Street View service — and work to do so is thought to be the explanation for mysterious Apple people carriers driving around the US earlier this year. Many had suggested that those cars were for testing the company’s own rumoured electric vehicle, but the mapping suggestion seems far more likely.
Some rumours have indicated that it will be a little different from Google’s service, offering pictures of shop fronts for easier navigation rather than taking comprehensive images of places as Google does.
Apple has been working hard to improve its own Maps service after problems in its data caused a controversy when it was released. The latest updates to iOS 9 bring much more detailed mapping data as well as public transport directions in cities including London.