According to a new patent published today Apple is looking into integrating real-time, crowd-sourced traffic and accident data through user reporting into their mapping applications.
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.
The concept is strikingly similar to Waze, which was just recently acquired by Google. Users have the ability to report certain incidents such as traffic, accidents, blocked roadways, and more as they are driving. The app will mark their location and push the alert to other drivers nearby.
The patent also shows off the ability for users to create ratings for routes, streets and/or locations for other users. If a certain road often has too many accidents or is poorly constructed, users can note that in the app. Apple could then return the highest rated route to users when they search for a similar route. When a user selects a route, they also have the ability to incorporate their own preferences. For instance, a user can opt to take the most scenic route, or the route with the least traffic. This feature is fairly common in most navigation units today.
It is still unclear if Apple ever plants to implement these features to the current Maps app since many Apple patents go “unused.”