The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has published an Apple patent application that pertains to expanded mapping features, including real-time crowd-sourced traffic information and user-based route ratings and reporting, reports AppleInsider.

Apple's patent, titled "User-Specified Route Rating and Alerts," shares some distinct similarities with Waze, a company that Apple was rumored to be purchasing at one point, though it was ultimately acquired by Google. The patent, which was originally filed in 2011, details a system in which Maps users offer "ratings for routes, streets and/or locations," improving the company's mapping capabilities through user feedback.

A system comprising: one or more processors; and a computer-readable medium including one or more sequences of instructions which, when executed by the one or more processors, causes: presenting a map display and a route on a mobile device; determining when the mobile device has reached a destination associated with the route; when the mobile device has reached the destination, displaying a prompt for input rating the route; and receiving user input comprising rating information for the route.
Waze incorporates user feedback as well, using crowd sourced data to determine route details and travel times. Waze users can utiize the app's feedback system to provide the company with reports on traffic accidents, road closures, location accuracy, and more. With a similar system in place, Apple could allow its users to provide feedback and ratings on route choices, which could then be used to optimize travel.

Apple's patent also details a process that would see the company collecting real-time traffic alerts and then distributing it to other Maps users, providing on-the-fly updates to routing information.

A method comprising: presenting a map on a display of a mobile device; receiving a first user input identifying a location on the map; receiving a second user input providing information about an event occurring at the location; and transmitting the event information to a navigation service, where the navigation service is configured to broadcast the event information to other mobile devices.
After a disastrous Maps debut alongside iOS 6 that saw a slew of complaints about inaccuracy and missing information, Apple has worked hard to improve the application. Tim Cook issued an apology and the company went through a restructuring that included the termination of several people involved with the Maps project, including SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall and Maps manager Richard Williamson.

Apple has since posted a number of job listings in order to add to its Maps teams, and has improved 3D flyover coverage in a number of cities. Both of Apple's upcoming operating system updates for Mac and iOS will include a number of mapping improvements, including a new app in OS X Mavericks.


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