Last month, a person wearing an Apple Maps backpack with LiDAR equipment
was spotted at the intersection of Stockton and Sutter streets in San Francisco, suggesting Apple now has employees collecting street-level data on foot.
Apple has since confirmed
that its Maps team will be collecting pedestrian data in California over the next month, starting with the counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara, the last of which includes the likes of San Jose and Apple's hometown of Cupertino.
The pedestrian-based street-level data will likely be used to improve walking directions in Apple Maps, as part of Apple's plans to rebuild the app "from the ground up"
with its own first-party data, starting in California.
"We wanted to take this to the next level," said Apple Maps chief Eddy Cue, in an interview with TechCrunch
in June. "We have been working on trying to create what we hope is going to be the best map app in the world, taking it to the next step. That is building all of our own map data from the ground up."
As part of the revamp, Apple Maps will begin to feature pedestrian pathways that are commonly walked but previously unmapped. Apple Maps will also more accurately display foliage like grass and trees, buildings, parking lots, sports fields, and more, with many of these improvements already available in California in iOS 12
Apple said the improvements will extend across the United States over the next year, but there is no timeline for a broader rollout. The ball is rolling internationally, as Apple Maps vehicles have surveyed parts of Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.