Ever since the disastrous launch almost a year ago of the Apple Maps software – software that was so obviously not ready CEO Tim Cook felt compelled to issue a letter of apology to users – the company has been quietly beavering away to make it better, rolling out incremental updates to no fanfare (though I guess a fanfare of any sort would be somewhat inappropriate), hiring so-called ‘ground truth managers’, and so on.
However, its bid to beef up the Flyover element of its app, which offers 3D aerial images of a location, has hit a snag – in Norway, at least.
In an effort to maintain control over data relating to government buildings and installations, the nation’s National Security Authority is refusing to let the Cupertino company gather 3D imagery of capital city Oslo from the sky.
Security in the European nation has tightened considerably since 2011 when Anders Breivik exploded a bomb outside government offices in Oslo before going on to shoot dead nearly 70 people at a youth camp.
According to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, a special license is required by those wanting to fly over the city to gather imagery. However, satellite imagery – used by Google, Apple and others – is not covered by the ban.
In an interesting development, Apple is said to be working with the US Embassy in Norway in an effort to find a solution. Representatives from the embassy are said to be liaising with Oslo mayor Fabian Stang, who in turn has asked defense minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen to look at Apple’s application again, pointing out that the tech giant has so far encountered no such issues with other Western governments.
While failure to obtain Oslo Flyover imagery for its Maps app won’t see Tim Cook booted out and Apple brought to its knees, the company nevertheless wants to offer a complete set of data for users, and so will no doubt be hoping the Norwegian authorities relent. One obvious solution is to reach agreement with the government as to precisely which buildings can and can not be included, a deal which would still see the vast majority majority of the city appear on Apple Maps in all its 3D glory.