Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:
Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.
Apple Maps remains one of the most interesting parts of iOS in my opinion. I've been using Apple Maps instead of Google Maps since the iOS 10 beta this past summer, and the app and data have gotten much better recently. I've found roads, traffic, and business information to be much more accurate, and I was thrilled to discover that operating hours have been added for many businesses near me. Granted I live in a big city, so I'm sure Maps is better here than it is in smaller towns and rural areas.
Using drones to gather mapping data is a great idea, though with all the regulatory approvals required from each country in which Apple hopes to fly drones I can't imagine this program will expand beyond the United States very quickly. Still, after admitting earlier this year that they originally bit off more than they could chew with Maps, it's nice to see Apple looking for new ways to improve their mapping data faster. I still think they should be doing more with crowdsourced data and corrections, and I'm baffled as to why Apple haven't acquired a start-up like Yelp or Foursquare with established POI databases.