Apple quietly launches 'Indoor Survey' app, allowing people to make maps of a place's insides

The tool seems to be a part of Apple's plans to map the indoors

Andrew Griffin
Monday 02 November 2015 18:28 GMT
Most iPhone are 'impossible' to unlock without the passcode
Most iPhone are 'impossible' to unlock without the passcode (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Apple has launched an app to allow people to map out a place’s interior, and it did so mostly without telling anyone.

A new link has appeared within the app store to an app called Indoor Survey. But it can’t be found through a normal search — requiring a direct link — and can only be used by people with a specially registered account.

The app appears to be part of Apple’s plans to bring more maps to the indoors. Apple has been gradually rolling out new ways of providing mapping information inside buildings, and the new app seems to be a way of making use of that.

The app allows people to walk through a building and droop “points”, which can then be used as a way of getting around venues. The phone measures its distance from Wi-Fi and radio signals, presumably using technology from a very similar company that it acquired in 2013.

"Enable indoor positioning within a venue using the Indoor Survey App," reads the description on iTunes. "By dropping 'points' on a map within the Survey App, you indicate your position within the venue as you walk through. As you do so, the Indoor Survey App measures the radio frequency (RF) signal data and combines it with an iPhone's sensor data."

The app could be a part of Apple’s plans for MapsConnect. That service allows businesses to add themselves to Apple’s Maps data, or change the data that’s on there.

Apple’s moves into indoor mapping have also included iBeacons. Those are little Bluetooth transmitters that allow phones to know precisely where they are, and allow app makers to send out specific notifications depending on locations.

They could be used to allow people to navigate around an art gallery and get a notifications when they arrive at a certain painting, for instance. The app could allow users to add similar functionality themselves, without installing the special beacons.

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