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Apple files patent for 'Waze-plus'

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Apple has filed a patent application for something that looks remarkably similar to Google's billion-dollar crowdsourced mapping buy, Waze - which earlier this year was rumoured to be an Apple takeover target.

The fourth-of-July filing for “User Specified Route Rating and Alerts”, US application 20130173155, has one of the briefest abstracts this Vulture South hack has seen:

“In some implementations, a user can provide ratings for routes, streets and/or locations. In some implementations, the user can initiate an alert associated with a location. In some implementations, user-specified ratings and alerts can be included in a route determination. In some implementations, route rating and alert information can be transmitted to other users and/or devices. “

Under the claims, users would rate routes at the end of their trip, either on a binary or gradated scale; can associate characteristics with routes; can add text descriptions to routes; and so on.

In other words, it's either a patent for a Waze-plus, which if granted would somewhat discombobulate The Chocolate Factory; or its a patent for collecting information in a database keyed to locations or routes, which might find itself opposed by other parts of the industry, such as most geo-database firms.

There is a hint of a trivial novelty in the patent: once a user has rated a route, other subscribers could have that rating pushed to them – so if there's an accident blocking a freeway, a user's report would alert other users to find a different route.

It would make sense for Apple to try to add crowd-sourced information to its mapping capabilities. Its rush-job mapping efforts have drawn derision from users for a lack of “ground truthing” before the product was launched, and Cupertino has been advertising for GIS expertise in various countries to try and repair the damage to its reputation.

The criticisms of Apple Maps drew this apology from Tim Cook.

The patent application was spotted by AppleInsider. ®

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