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3D maps: Apple makes Google Street View look old


In a direct comparison with Google Maps, Apple's map service usually lost out. But with the 3D view Look Around things are different now.

Enlarge image

Königsbau in Stuttgart: more than a decade separated the images from Apple Look Around (left) and Google Street View

Photo: Apple/Google

Apple now has its own Street View: With the 3D map function Look Around, Mac, iPhone and iPad users can now take a virtual stroll through their destination before setting out on a trip.

For about a week and after a previous test phase in Munich, the function in Apple's map app has been activated for the whole of Germany.

In the US, the Apple panorama has been around for three years.

Now Apple is following suit in Germany: Since the end of July, around 80 camera vehicles have been scanning the streets and facades in Germany to spice up Apple Maps with the virtual view from the car roof.

In car-free zones of large cities, people were out and about with camera backpacks.

The app is easy to use: one click on the binoculars icon is enough to start the all-round view.

This doesn't only work in big cities.

Apple has photographed narrow streets in Regensburg and facades in small towns like Putzar, a 200-inhabitant district of the municipality of Boldekow in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Google has to fit here.

In Regensburg, the male can only be dropped on a few hotspots and on a single traffic artery.

The avenue that leads through Putzar doesn't even exist in Street View.

In comparison, Apple regularly has to admit defeat to Google, which began with the botched start of the map app in 2012.

But in the all-round view, Apple makes the competition look old.

The Apple photos are so high-resolution that you can sometimes read the daily menu on the slates in the restaurants.

In direct comparison, the Google recordings appear gloomy and washed out.

But at least the photos of the two US companies are separated by more than a decade, in which the camera technology has improved significantly, among other things, with laser scanners such as lidar.

It's unclear whether Google is planning a Street View refresh in response.

The company only makes hints again and again.

Street View is still showing Kung Fu Panda in cinemas

Most of the Apple recordings are only a few months old.

It wasn't until spring that the "Look Around" cars were on the road in cities like Hamburg and Bremen.

While the cinema posters in Street View are still announcing the release of the 2008 films "Kung Fu Panda" and "Tropic Thunder", Apple's "Godzilla vs. Kong" is on the program, which started last year.

In addition, passers-by usually wear masks because the recordings were made during the corona pandemic.

Every now and then in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart an older picture from 2019 pushes in between, but most of the photos are from the spring tour of the Apple vehicles.

If you want to stroll through the holiday destination before you travel, Look Around is a better choice.

Because since 2008 the cityscape has changed fundamentally in many municipalities.

Google still has numerous Schlecker branches in its program.

The new tenants have already moved in at Apple.

But how quickly such street shots become outdated can also be observed at Apple.

Images of petrol stations that are only a few months old are a topic of conversation, as the signs still show significantly lower prices.

Pixel houses in Minecraft look

The photo of one's own house in an online map service hardly seems to bother anyone these days.

Pixelated houses that look like Minecraft block buildings are hard to find at Apple.

Things looked very different when Google Street View was launched in 2010.

At the time, protests had triggered a large wave of pixelation.

Hundreds of thousands objected to the fact that the facade of their house was shown.

When asked by SPIEGEL, Apple did not want to say how many users wanted to have their houses pixelated in Look Around.

But the outrage seems to be limited.

A spokeswoman for the responsible Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision told SPIEGEL: "Since the introduction of the look-around feature in April of this year, we have received around 15 to 20 submissions." want to pixelate the whole body.

Data protection authorities had imposed strict requirements: Apple had to make number plates and faces unrecognizable in the raw data, i.e. before the actual further processing.

If you want to have your house or car pixelated afterwards, you have to write an e-mail or a letter to Apple.

The Cupertino-based group had already completely overhauled its map app in April and thus continued its race to catch up with Google Maps.

But Apple Maps still has a big catch: the bike is displayed as a symbol, but there are no routes for cyclists.

This is reserved for cyclists in the US.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-08-07

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