Late last week, speculation regarding Apple’s future projects abounded after industry researchers discovered the company’s patent for their own take on augmented reality eye wear. The tech giant is once again making headlines, this time after sources noted a sudden push by the company to hire employees with a background in map tech. Apple has put out over 70 listings for positions relating to map tech within the last month, and experts are speculating that the drive for fresh talent may be related to Apple’s broader push to develop augmented reality apps and devices.
Apple’s job listings for map tech experts cover a broad range of skills, including fleet management, geospatial information services, and navigational aids, among others. Apple Maps has struggled to remain competitive with the tremendously successful Google Maps, but the tech company’s push for fresh talent could go a long way towards changing the tide. More importantly, however, is the potential this has to enable Apple to make good on long-promised advancements in autonomous systems and augmented reality technology.
Augmented reality is a surprisingly wide umbrella, including both software and hardware, with everything from mobile games like Pokemon Go to devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens falling within the category. Apple has certainly made headway into the growing demand for augmented reality experiences, and with the upcoming September release of iOS 11, third party developers will finally have access to a robust, all-new toolkit for developing apps and software that harness the feature.
Autonomous systems are a separate question entirely, but this latest drive to hire map tech experts may indicate what Apple has in store. Namely, the company appears to be preparing for a foray into the self-driving car industry. Apple CEO Tim Cook broached the issue casually, indicating the company’s desire to develop “core technologies” related to autonomous vehicles, while further tantalizing the public by saying such a project “is only one” component of a larger focus shift within the company. Cook’s hints and vague comments were part of a recent interview with CNBC’s Josh Lipton.
Fans of the company have been waiting for Apple to match the level of sheer innovation seen under the late Steve Jobs’ leadership, and this push to develop augmented reality and autonomous systems could be just the thing. The company had strong earnings in its publicly available Q3 earnings report, so it’s evident that Apple has the resources to pursue these projects, though what form they take will remain a mystery, at least for now.