The US Patent & Trademark Office today published a patent application from Apple that related to future Apple devices that are able to view augmented reality (AR) maps on a table top or desk. AR is a big deal for Apple, and iOS is currently the biggest AR platform in the world with millions of iOS devices ranging from the iPhone SE and up, that supports AR.
To date, there are over 5,000 AR apps across all categories on the App Store, from entertainment, education, travel, home renovation, and more. With ARKit 2.0, apps have enhanced surface detection, persistent experiences, and support for multiple users. Also, a new open file format — Universal Scene Description (usdz), designed in collaboration with Pixar, makes it easy to experience AR anywhere within iOS, including apps like Messages, Safari, Kal, Files, News, and more.
AR provides a rich environment for games, entertainment, travel, utility, as well as teaching and learning.
Based on the patent filing as reported by Patently Apple, Apple wants to bring AR to Apple Maps.
Apple Maps AR would be an extension of Apple Maps in current form, where it provides an augmented reality and/or virtual reality interface on an iOS device. This will allow interaction with a displayed map.
A possible use case is by a tourist who can easily and intuitively interact with a 3D map of a visited city. The cool thing is it may not require fingertip manipulation direct on screen. Instead, the user may need to physically move the mobile device where the map is being displayed.
The view of the map may be zoomed in when the mobile device is moved towards the AR object on the map, or zoom out as the mobile device is moved away from it. Likewise, the view of the map an be shifted left and right in response to the direction the mobile device is moved.
Check out Apple’s patent diagrams that explains how the system works.
Apple’s patent application was filed in May 2016.