Apple beefs up indoor mapping efforts with new app

Small businesses can submit their information without buying iBeacons.

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Apple has a new app on the App Store, though you won’t be able to find it unless you own a small business. The under-the-radar app is called Indoor Survey, and it’s designed to map venues.

Developer Steve Troughton-Smith first noticed the app over the weekend, though it’s been in the App Store since Oct. 27.

ios indoor survey

“By dropping ‘points’ on a map within the Survey app, you indicate your position within the venue as you walk through,” the app description says. “As you do so, the Indoor Survey app measures the radio frequency (RF) signal data and combines it with an iPhone’s sensor data. The end result is indoor positioning without the need to install special hardware.”

Apple has been interested in indoor mapping for quite some time. When iOS 7 launched in 2013, the company started marketing iBeacons, physical Bluetooth touchstones placed around stores, stadiums, or other spaces that push out notifications to nearby iPhones. iBeacons have some limitations, namely that business owners have to buy them to place in their venues, then encourage their customers to keep their Bluetooth turned on to receive the location-specific alerts.

Then last year, Apple introduced Apple Maps Connect for business owners to submit and edit their own information to Apple Maps, though that service was only open to venues with more than 1 million visitors per year. Indoor Survey is reportedly designed for small businesses to submit information, which is why the app isn’t visible to everyone who visits the App Store.

Google is also working on an indoor mapping project, but so far the only places that are viewable in Google Maps are a few major airports, malls, museums, casinos, and sports venues—no small businesses.

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