Does Apple Think It Can Best Google Maps?

apple mapsGoogle (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps has its “Street View,” which gives users a panoramic view of cities and rural areas worldwide based on actual photographs that merge together into a virtual world. Now, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is attempting to create an equivalent for its own mapping service. A patent filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicates that the company has its sights set on creating a virtual navigation system based on panoramic location data — like Google Maps — for its mobile devices.

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The patent, entitled “3D Position Tracking for Panoramic Image Navigation,” described a graphical user interface that takes advantage of an iPhone or iPad’s built in sensors to navigate panoramic imagery. According to the filing, Apple’s invention takes current technology to a different level. Google’s Street View, for example, traps users in a “bubble” surrounding a given intersection, and it only allows users to pan within that bubble through an input device like a mouse or a multi-touch screen. “A tedious experience for mobile device users on the go,” as AppleInsider noted.

But Apple’s invention — which will use tracking subsystems and onboard sensors to translate physical motion into a panoramic user interface — will theoretically allow users to move through virtual space at a street-level. Movement in this dimension will be controlled by moving the device forward and backward or left and right, with panoramic data being supplied by built-in storage or streamed wirelessly over cellular data networks…