Apple eyeing schematic maps for iOS devices
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Apple eyeing schematic maps for iOS devices

Apple is eyeing a new Maps app for iOS devices with "schematic maps," per a patent that's appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent, "entitled Schematic Maps," involves systems and methods for preparing and presenting schematic maps, which are maps that present information in a format that presents only information that is most relevant to a given situation in order to provide a simple and clear representation sufficient to aid a user in guidance or orientation. The schematic maps as described can be formatted based on the attributes of a display on which they are presented so that the map layout and presentation can be optimized for the particular display. T

The schematic maps can be “distorted” to better illustrate important maps areas in greater detail and using a relatively larger display area while deemphasizing less important map areas by illustrating them in less detail and using a relatively smaller display area, and thus the schematic maps can be devoid of adherence to a particular scale. The inventors are Jaron Waldman and Moran Ben-David.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In recent years, electronic mapping applications and providers have added more and more information into their maps. Recent developments include high resolution satellite and aerial imagery, 3-D buildings, and street views. These recent advancements in the electronic mapping field, combined with the vast databases of locations, destinations, service providers, etceteras have led to increasingly complicated and crowded maps that are full of information that might or might not be useful to a user.

"At the same time, handheld computing devices have grown increasingly powerful and more important in the everyday lives of many people. An increasing portion of the population is becoming more likely to look for information such as maps and directions in the palm of their hand using these various mobile platforms.

"Unfortunately, despite great improvements in the handheld devices, their usefulness is often constrained by their relatively small displays. This is particularly true with respect to electronic maps since they include so much information it is difficult to visually extract the information that is truly most useful from the details. Accordingly, one problem to be solved is to provide electronic maps that are configured based on display information. Another problem to be solved is to display only the most useful information to a user.

"The following relates to preparing and presenting schematic maps, which are maps that present information in a format that presents only information that is most relevant to a given situation in order to provide a simple and clear representation sufficient to aid a user in guidance or orientation. The schematic maps as described herein can be formatted based on the attributes of a display on which they are presented so that the map layout and presentation can be optimized for the particular display. The schematic maps can be 'distorted' to better illustrate important maps areas in greater detail and using a relatively larger display area while deemphasizing less important map areas by illustrating them in less detail and using a relatively smaller display area, and thus the schematic maps can be devoid of adherence to a particular scale.

"The schematic maps can be useful for providing directions or maps of surrounding areas and maps displaying places of interest and locations of people in the surrounding area. The maps can be prepared and presented by executing a method on a device having at least a processor and a display by analyzing map vector data, which includes information describing map features including a start point, one or more potential end points, and one or more possible routes for directions to an end point.

"A region of geographic focus can be identified. Such a region can be a region to be displayed as a schematic map, or it can be a region that encompasses all search results near a given start point. The region of geographic focus can also be determined by considering display attributes, since displays with some aspect ratios will display regions having one shape better than others.

"All the map features within the region of geographic focus can be ranked by a processor in a usefulness index according to a value system that provides higher values or greater weight to map features that are likely to be the most important features to a user viewing the schematic map. The usefulness index can be a list or a table or other data structure that organizes the map features according to how useful or important the feature is to the likely purpose of the map. For example, in a schematic map displaying directions, the most important features are those making up the route, i.e., the various route segments.

"Next would be landmarks that are useful in locating a turn or progress along the route. Other landmarks that a user will see along the route that are useful in general orientation, or that are prominent landmarks, might be ranked next. Small stores or parks that are far off the route might be the least important and ranked lowest in the usefulness index. Map features given a rank greater than a threshold for display can be displayed on the schematic map.

"As mentioned above, the schematic map can be optimized for the display of the particular device on which it is shown. An orientation in which to display the selected map features on the display can be selected based on display attributes, and each route segment selected for display can be drawn as an approximately straight line. The orientation of the lines can be an approximation of an overall direction of travel along the way, and the schematic map can be displayed by presenting the selected map features on the display in an optimized orientation.

"Before and/or after the schematic map has been presented on the display, the schematic maps can be “distorted” to better illustrate important maps areas in greater detail and using a relatively larger display area while deemphasizing less important map areas by illustrating them in less detail and using a relatively smaller display area, and thus the schematic maps can be devoid of adherence to a particular scale."

-- Dennis Sellers

 
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