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.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Lenovo-made Windows Phone device leaked?

Next Story

The iPhone 4S is a sellout, yet again

30 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I don't get why anyone would need a bird's eye view of the surrounding landscape unless you're a city planner or developer. Am I going to get a better navigational experience from seeing where I am 30 floors up? I doubt it.

All this will do is bring Apple into the area of oh my goosh your map is too detailed! I don't want to see my house! Bur Blur Blur! There is a fine line... I wonder how Apple will react to government demands on very detailed maps.

Nothing can ever "blow Google Maps away" because Google Maps has Street View. 3D maps are nothing but a novelty but Street View is both incredible and hugely useful.

and anyway .. this smells like another one of john callaham's fanboy rants. I really wish the Neowin staff could remove him as a writer, writes blogs under the guise of "News"

I see nothing revolutionary or proprietary in that video. Anyone can duplicate or improve on these results if they have access to the dataset, like Google and MS do.

"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..."

@John Callaham
have you tried Google maps lately ? there is a button "Try something new" works with WebGL so they have 3D maps and it's no secret. I thought that news reporters should know the news...

So whats the future of Nokia's licensing this technology? Apple doesn't play nice with anyone so I would suspect it's over for Nokia.

Enron said,
So whats the future of Nokia's licensing this technology? Apple doesn't play nice with anyone so I would suspect it's over for Nokia.
Yeah, chances are Apple will pull the pin on the deal with Nokia and plug this tech as an exclusive "revolutionary new feature" for the iPhone 5/iOS 6.0 (or whatever version/product they release it with).

My friend at Esri told me that Apple were in talks with them to replace Google Maps with Esri Maps but then negotiations broke down because of the poor quality of the Esri product. Apple has been in development of their own mapping system to replace Google Maps of their iPhone. I was surprised they didn't release it with the iPhone 4S. Perhaps we'll see the new Apple iMaps on the iPhone 5.

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, Sweden.

You made the same mistake as this other site. Oslo is the capital city of Norway, NOT Sweden.

Apple is usually very clever in that they say that their products are innovative but they rarely say that Apple themselves are responsible for the innovation. Siri would be their latest example.

Apple has a way with words

Tanoru said,
Apple is usually very clever in that they say that their products are innovative but they rarely say that Apple themselves are responsible for the innovation. Siri would be their latest example.

Apple has a way with words

I hate to be that guy, but it's common practice for companies to buy out a company, rebrand it, then BOOM market. Google acquired Android, Aol acquired Lifestream etc etc.

Melfster said,
Nokia maps actually looks as good as that. Will probable get intergrated into Windows phone.
Doubt it, Nokia Maps 3D is done by the same company now owned by Apple. So say goodbye to Nokia Maps 3D sadly.

This is were Apple are extremely smart going around buying up companies like this. Stops the competition using the tech for themselves.

Xerxes said,
Doubt it, Nokia Maps 3D is done by the same company now owned by Apple. So say goodbye to Nokia Maps 3D sadly.

This is were Apple are extremely smart going around buying up companies like this. Stops the competition using the tech for themselves.

Who owns data....That would be Nokia. Its already been confirmed to windows Phone.

KingCrimson said,
Apple is so innovative in how they buy other company's innovations and integrate them into their Borg-ian OS.

YAY first comment it trolling!

I wonder if they'll make it an app you can download from their store, then remove it and make you buy the next iphone hardware if you want to keep using it, or get updates for it

dvb2000 said,
I wonder if they'll make it an app you can download from their store, then remove it and make you buy the next iphone hardware if you want to keep using it, or get updates for it

The problem here is that Siri was never an app on their store. It was something from the homebrew community. They integrated it into iPhone 4S and made them shutdown the old servers.

KingCrimson said,
Apple is so innovative in how they buy other company's innovations and integrate them into their Borg-ian OS.

So now you actually having issues with Apple expanding functionality of iOS?
dvb2000 said,
I wonder if they'll make it an app you can download from their store, then remove it and make you buy the next iphone hardware if you want to keep using it, or get updates for it

Except Siri was never part of the App Store.

KingCrimson said,
Apple is so innovative in how they buy other company's innovations and integrate them into their Borg-ian OS.

Google bought the google earth platform, its not like that was home grown either

KingCrimson said,
Apple is so innovative in how they buy other company's innovations and integrate them into their Borg-ian OS.

+1. I'd love to see them develop a new technology from scratch...

KingCrimson said,
Apple is so innovative in how they buy other company's innovations and integrate them into their Borg-ian OS.

As apposed to other companies who don't buy anyone, right? Try comparing Google's list of acquisitions compared to Apples:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_acquisitions_by_Google
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...s_and_acquisitions_by_Apple

It makes absolute no sense for Apple to try and develop this technology from the ground up, as they don't have the expertise and wouldn't be able to get anything near as good as what they have bought here. It's just good business strategy...