Apple is no stranger to this technology. It has been working with indoor maps for years, launching iBeacons and even spending about $20 million on the 2013 acquisition of indoor mapping company WiFiSLAM.
With iOS 9, Apple is making its effort ambitious. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith noticed Apple’s silent October 27 release of Indoor Survey App, an indoor positioning app that business owners use in order to map out their venues.
You can already use Core Location to mark Latitude/Longitude position and project it onto a flat floorplan.
“Enable indoor positioning within a venue using the Indoor Survey App,” claims the app description. “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.” Apple’s app uses both Wi-Fi and radio positions to track positions.
Earlier, Apple has reported to use indoor mapping robots in order to create indoor maps of places such as stores, offices and events venues. The devices have also used iBeacons technology to achieve this. The most useful feature in Maps is introduction of floor plans for large public transit stations.
It is possible that one day the Apple Watch will guide you to the right shelves in the supermarket or the correct platform in any station, to the right seat in a theater, table in a restaurant or treatment room. The possibilities are endless.
App developers will also be able to use these technologies. Soon we will have apps that let you choose and book seats in restaurants, for example. Apple’s Siri and Proactive will also be able to learn about your likes and dislikes using these tools, thus enhancing the user experience.
Such indoor mapping tech will help it offer its products to warehouse and distribution centers to help employees pick the right stock to pack; with implications for equipment location in hospitals or getting the nearest available medical practitioner to a patient needing help when in hospital.
In the near future, we’re likely to see the company deploy these solutions in ways that enable iOS users to find what they need, rather than using location-based awareness to recommend things to them. However this may change as it develops its solutions to provide convenience and privacy both at once. We only have to wait and see how things develop, but the possibilities are, as it is apparent already, endless. It is interesting to think about Google, which has previously said its plan is “for any user… to be able to go into any public space and be able to find their way around.” We hope that such power isn’t misused.