Instead of relying on Google to power its to-date preloaded map software on iDevices, Apple has been keen to discuss recently its development of a brand new in-house 'Maps' application that will go in direct opposition to Google's long-standing software. But with Google since committing to broadening the gaze of Google Earth from the streets (Street View was first released in 2007) to off-road, inaccessible areas and in providing 3D coverage of major metropolitan areas, Apple must follow suit.
Which might explain why information is leaking through of the company recruiting a 'fleet' of aircraft each equipped with military-grade cameras in order to produce 3D maps so accurate and images so clear that you'll be able to see objects as small as 4-inches across through the software. Although Google's Street View has already brought into question major privacy concerns – as well as a law suit or too from disgruntled subjects – the step Apple is taking in matching the search giant pace-by-pace is likely to spark all new debates centred on the invasion of our privacy. Nick Pickles from the campaign group Big Brother Watch has already warned of Apple intentions, telling the Sunday Times the aerial image capture systems would “take us over the garden fence...you won't be able to sunbathe in your garden without worrying about an Apple or Google plane buzzing overhead taking pictures.”
The technology to be employed by Apple is the result of the company's acquisition of the Swedish C3 Technologies and is said to be of similar aerial spying quality as used by intelligence agencies, and has so far been tested in 20 cities across the world including London. Supposedly, each plane has multiple cameras each capturing high resolution images of the ground below from different angles. All, then, can be assembled to form the 3D landscape explored by users. According to the Daily Mail, a small plane carrying the 3D-mapping technology can photograph around 40 square miles every single hour. Privacy be damned.