Apple recently filed a patent that will extend the capabilities of its existing Apple Maps app by allowing users to access Maps data in “layers” that relate to their personal situations, MacRumors reports. They will be able to see data about a location or point of interest on a single screen, and they will be able to dynamically alter each layer as they see fit.

Using Modes and Layers

The new Apple Maps features utilize a concept known as ‘layering.’ Essentially, the new Maps app will try to display more than one piece of information on a user’s screen at the same time. For instance, if someone wants to see the weather at a specific hotel, he will be able to take advantage of layers to see this all at once.

Before, users were subject to the limitations of only seeing one app’s information at a time. A user could look at the oncoming weather, but he would not be able to see his hotel location, and vice versa. To see the weather and hotel, he would need to open two different apps or access two separate screens.

“User input can be directed at specific features displayed on the map, such as clicking a mouse button while a cursor is positioned over a dot representing a city, or touching a highway indicator on a map displayed on a touch screen device,” MacRumors quotes from the patent. “In response to such input, the map displays information that pertains to the feature of interest. For instance, clicking on a city dot might result in the display of information pertaining to the city, such as demographics, hotels, flight schedules, etc.”

MacRumors also says that users will be able to select different modes, depending on their preferences. A commuting mode, for instance, would focus on train or bus schedules and routes. A shopping mode, on the other hand, may display local shopping centers. Users will also be able to take advantage of iBeacons, microlocation APIs that allow users to access information about their surroundings, particularly at retail locations. MacRumors notes that Macy’s is now using the shopping app Shopkick to take advantage of iBeacon capabilities.

Creating Routes and Sightseeing

Apple Insider says users will be able to tap on their smartphones to create a route between two points on a map. While on that chosen route, users will also have access to information related to the surrounding area. Similar to Macy’s use of iBeacons, the new map application can provide historical or contextual information by way of onscreen text or audible updates.

The new Maps app has the potential to streamline a user’s experience of travel and discovery. He or she will be able to gather and view more information than ever before, and it will be easier to access that information in a single place.

How will you use map layers to your benefit?

Image courtesy of Flickr


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