Apple has made some investments and a big bet on AR in recent years, and we’ve seen some of its early work in this space on products like Animoji, Memoji, and the Measure app on the iPhone. Now, according to recent job postings, it looks like the next Apple product that could get transformed by augmented reality will be the Maps app.
An examination of Apple’s career site by Thinknum reveals that Apple is looking for a number of AR applications engineers at various levels, along with a technical artist, FX artist, and UI artist. These AR-related job postings span from August 10 through August 22, and Thinknum posited that these jobs may have been created to support the Apple Maps team. In July, the Apple Maps team was searching for a product architect, and interestingly, augmented reality was one of the areas highlighted in that job description.
“Digital maps have become essential tools of our everyday lives, yet despite their ubiquity, they are still in their infancy,” Apple said of the Apple Maps product architect job. “From urban mobility to indoor positioning, from Lidar to augmented reality, advances in technology and new kinds of data are powering innovations in all areas of digital mapping. If you love maps and are passionate about what is possible, you will be in great company.”
Another Apple job posting from June for the position of iOS/MacOS engineer may give Thunknum’s hypothesis even more weight. Among some of the requirements for this job, Apple is looking for someone with a “familiarity with maps” and “familiarity with augmented reality APIs.” The mention of mapping and AR connects this June position to Apple’s efforts in AR and maps in the job postings for July and August.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Apple was looking at completely rebuilding Apple Maps. Apple is striving for better accuracy in this new version of Apple Maps, and the company has been collecting its own mapping data as part of this effort. If Apple adds augmented reality to Maps, it will be able to compete against Google Maps and others in this space with more accurate maps. On phones, AR could help tourists get acquainted, navigate, and understand a new city better.