A new job posting on Apple’s site for the position of “iOS QA Location Engineer” further strengthens claims that Apple is working on greatly improving and expanding location based features on iOS devices.
Presently the in-built location based experience on iOS devices largely revolves around the bundled Maps app, which in turn heavily relies on Google’s data.
Apple naturally senses an opportunity, rather a void, here which is why it has been actively hiring people into its location team. The new job posting reads:
The iOS Quality team is looking for a Location QA Engineer who’s engineering and technical skill is only matched by their problem solving and communication abilities. You will join a dynamic team responsible for qualifying the latest iOS products, working on exciting new features for iOS location services. The successful candidate will complete both documented and adhoc testing to ensure high quality releases.
The job posting says that candidates should be familiar with GPS and navigation algorithms, suggesting that Apple’s crowd-sourced real-time traffic database would be put to use in the form of a turn-by-turn navigation solution. The job is based in Cupertino, California where Apple’s headquarters are located. The posting also includes a line at the top which says:
“Join the iPhone Quality team in its effort to provide the best location experience for our customers! “
We do hope some of these improvements feature in iOS 5, but the chances of that happening are very slim. Apple’s acquisitions of mapping companies Poly9 and Placebase happened over a year ago and the company has yet to break free of its reliance on Google’s data for the Maps app. There might be changes happening at the back end, but largely Apple is using Google’s imagery for Maps even now.
iOS 5 does include location based reminders, which apart from Find My iPhone, is the only location based feature residing on the iPhone outside the Maps app. There have been a number of patent filings and job listings which hint at feature additions like Augmented Reality and location based communication in the future, but are yet to see the light of day.
Apart from turn-by-turn navigation what other location based features do you want to see in iOS?