München Nine years after the controversy over Google Street View, Apple is now bringing camera cars to Germany. The cars will also be driving in Bonn and the region. Their pictures could also end up in Apple's new Street View competitor service Look Around.
Next Monday (July 29), Apple will for the first time send its camera cars onto the streets of German cities. By mid-September, a good 80 vehicles are expected to take pictures for the iPhone Group's map service.
Late Tuesday evening, Apple announced on its website the cities in which the cars are to drive. Bonn is also among them. In the region, the cars will be used in the districts of Euskirchen, Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, Cologne, Ahrweiler and Neuwied.
The data is primarily intended to improve the map material, as Apple explained. In the future, however, the images could also be used in the new panorama service Look Around - Apple's competitor to Google Street View.
Apple is providing information on a website about the areas in which the vehicles will soon be on the road. Ahead of Germany, the camera cars in Europe have already driven on roads in Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia and Slovenia. Before the launch in Germany, Apple was in contact with the Bavarian data protection officer. The data from the vehicles will be uploaded to Apple's server in the USA.
With Look Around, users can move on the screen through three-dimensional representations of streets. The function will initially be available in the fall for selected areas such as the San Francisco area.
Users can also request the deletion of raw data with the depiction of people or houses. The Group offers this option before a possible introduction in Germany and directly at the start of the camera car journeys.
Faces and license plates are automatically pixelated in Look Around, as in Google's Street View. According to Apple, the software for this came up with an almost 100 percent hit rate in the first Look Around material from the San Francisco area.
Apple can extract information from photos of the vehicles, such as street names, shops, traffic signs, and road layout. In addition to photo cameras, the vehicles are equipped with laser radars that scan their surroundings in 3D. The devices, also known under the name Lidar, are used in self-propelled cars, among other things.
The vehicles also use GPS to record their whereabouts. According to Apple, no other data is collected. At Google, the camera vehicles were also supposed to register the identifiers and signal strengths of Wifi networks for more precise orientation, but also stored fragments of unencrypted WLAN transmissions. This was uncovered by Johannes Caspar, Hamburg's data protection officer, and Google admitted an error.
Original text: dpa
Translation: Mareike Graepel