Apple buys 3D map company

Apple may be developing a new kind of 3D map application for the iPhone and iPad that could blow away what's possible on the current version of Google Maps. 9to5Mac.com claims to have confirmed that Apple has acquired the Sweden-based C3 Technologies. The company has shown off its own remarkable 3D mapping application in the past.

How remarkable is it? All you have to do is check out the video above which shows C3 Technologies' work on a full 3D presentation of Oslo, Norway. As you can see, the fully 3D map is photo-realistic and stays that way even in extreme close up. Compare that to Google Maps, which Apple currently uses in its iOS products. Its maps are mostly 2D except in large cities where the outlines of 3D buildings are shown.

The story claims that the people behind C3 Technologies are now working for Apple but are still based in Sweden under the Sputnik division of Apple. The technology behind their application is partly based on declassified missile targeting features. That means that the tools developed to guide a missile to its designation is now being used to help create full 3D maps that in theory would make navigation and location features on an iPhone easier than ever.

Much like how the purchase of Siri led Apple to add its advanced voice recognition technology to iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S, it's more than possible that Apple plans to do something similar with C3 Technologies's 3D mapping program and add it to a future version of the iOS and the next hardware update to the iPhone. It's pretty amazing stuff and unless Google is secretly working on a similar 3D photo mapping update for Google Maps, we suspect that it might be a little bit worried that its popular mapping application could have some serious competition.

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