Apple files ‘interactive map’ patent

A recent application to the US Patent and Trademark Office has revealed Apple's plans to introduce new interactive features to its maps app.

The Interactive Map patent published yesterday would allow users to view multiple layers of content overlaid on maps, capable of displaying shops, petrol stations, journey routes and other information pulled from the internet.

"An interactive capability enables a user to dynamically adjust the content of an electronic map," reads the abstract to the patent. "Different modes can be chosen to emphasize features relevant to a particular interest, e.g. commuting, tourism, weather, etc. Combinations of modes can be selected to create a customized map."

An example given by Apple for the practical use of this feature is determining what weather is approaching by overlaying real-time weather information.

"While viewing a weather map, if the user realizes that a rainstorm is approaching, it may be necessary to switch to a different map application to locate a restaurant or shopping mall where the user can take refuge while the storm passes," Apple says in its filing.

Apple Maps has come under scrutiny since its launch in 2012 for numerous high-profile failings. These include directing drivers across airport runways, forcing motorists to walk "long distances through difficult terrain", and leaving several people stranded in the Australian outback.

Such mishaps led users to ditch the troubled app in favour of its main competitor, Google Maps.The company will be hoping that new features such as the layered maps concept will draw customers back to its service.