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Apple's 'Street View cars' confirmed with announcement of Maps vehicles

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Apple has finally confirmed that it's deploying a fleet of camera-equipped cars to deliver a much-needed overhaul to Apple Maps and collect Street View-style imagery. Although the cars have been spotted in cities across the US this year, Apple has now published a loose schedule of where the cars will be headed over the next month (starting in the US, UK, and Ireland), along with giving a vague description of how exactly they're being used.

"We will blur faces and license plates on collected images."

"Apple is driving vehicles around the world to collect data which will be used to improve Apple Maps. Some of this data will be published in future Apple Maps updates," the site explains. "We are committed to protecting your privacy while collecting this data. For example, we will blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication." This latter point suggests that the cars will not only be recording detailed mapping data, but also Street View-style data such as photos of storefronts and 3D imagery. Google launched Street View back in 2007 and began automatically detecting and blurring faces the following year after complaints about privacy.

Apple still has a long road ahead of it before it fixes maps, however, with one report from 9to5Mac claiming that the iPhone-maker won't be able to transition away from using of third-party data sources like TomTom until at least 2017. Similarly, although the company announced at WWDC that it's adding public transit directions to Maps in iOS 9, the data will only be initially available for a dozen of cities in the West, compared to the thousands already covered in Google Maps.