Apple sets sights on TomTom with location data collection

Are TomTom's days numbered?
Are TomTom's days numbered?

Apple has finally admitted that it has indeed been gathering location data, but it isn't tracking you personally; the company claims it is using the 'anonymous' data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database.

This sounds suspiciously similar to the kinds of services offered by Android Maps' turn-by-turn navigation services and TomTom, which is no doubt quaking in its boots at the thought of competing directly with Apple.

Apple's Q&A states, "Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years."

Currently the iPhone maps service offers directions with approximate timings based on the traffic on your route, but doesn't offer much more jam-based information than that.

The bell tolls

TomTom already uses information gathered from phone providers to offer a more accurate live traffic sat nav service, but the sheer wealth of information available to Apple – and only Apple – would make a proprietary turn-by-turn mapping service with accurate traffic data built in to the phone a serious contender.

And would, you know, remove the need for you ever to download TomTom's £50 app or invest in a stand-alone sat-nav device.

As Tap! Magazine's Chris Phin ponders, "Is the iPhone now so ubiquitous that location data from the millions of handsets in use – which, fundamentally, reports not only where you are but how fast you're travelling – is fine-grained enough to provide or even just boost live data about road congestion in a free satnav app Apple is developing for the iPhone?"

We'll find out in 'the next couple of years'; meanwhile, there's still time to make hay while the sun shines, TomTom.

Via Tap!

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Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.