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Apple wants navigation systems to talk to you like a human being would

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Apple has filed a patent application for what it called "humanized navigation instructions" — in other words, navigation commands that mimic the way a real person would tell you to get around town, rather than dealing with an emotionless navbot that doesn't really care when you miss the next turn.

Some examples of the way such a system might talk to drivers that Apple offers in its filing:

  • "Exit the parking lot near AppleBees® restaurant and then turn right towards Golden Ave."
  • "Your destination is the apartment complex with the water fountain in the front."
  • "Your destination is behind OfficeMax."

Clearly, this level of descriptive detail requires awareness of the car's surroundings that navigation systems haven't historically had access to; this could help explain the Apple-registered vans equipped with roof-mounted camera arrays that have been seen driving around the world in recent months.

Hang a left right after the Chipotle

The system also proposes crowdsourcing data on missed turns and freeway exits so other drivers' navigation systems know where the confusing instructions are — that way, drivers can be given clearer instructions sooner. "Start merging to the right-most lane to take the exit in 1 mile," for instance, as the filing suggests. And when you do missed turns, you could be "re-assured while the new instructions are being fetched," Apple says, by telling you to just keep driving while the computer calculates a new route.

Even without the rumored Apple Car, better navigation is still near and dear to Apple's heart: like Google's Android Auto, Apple is currently making a big push onto the road with CarPlay, and existing iOS devices offer built-in turn-by-turn navigation with voice commands.