Apple vs. Google vs. Yahoo on Location Awareness and Parking

I usually help site owners with increasing traffic to their web sites, and keep an eye on patent filings from companies that are involved in delivering information to people on the Web. But there seems to be another kind of traffic on the minds of companies like Apple, Yahoo, and Google.

The intersection between internet-connected phones and local search is increasingly including such services as providing maps, driving directions, public transit information, and location aware applications. Apple has a serious interest in providing applications for the iPhone that take advantage of location aware services as well, and a new patent filing from them describes a couple of interesting new services they may offer that involve parking and public transit services.

Street map image from Apple patent filing showing location of bus stop, parking restriction information, and the location of a parking garage.

As I noted, they aren’t alone in focusing upon providing real time information involving maps and transportation.

Google launched a service earlier this year that allows you to find stores and restaurants and even ATMs with their Near me now feature. Back in 2006, Google published a patent filing that could help you track the locations of taxi cabs, UPS delivery trucks, and other fleet services. A Google patent filing from 2007 on image based advertising and branded barcodes mentioned the possibility of taking a picture with your phone of a bus stop sign and being given real time information about the next bus arrival.

Yahoo recently published a patent application that would add information to their Maps and driving directions service that would add real time information about the locations and availability of parking, which I wrote about in Forget Search, Yahoo May Start Helping You Find Parking Spaces.

There are apps for the iPhone such as Aroundme that are similar to Google’s Near me now, and Apple has been working upon incorporating what they describe as geographic location technology into their operating systems as well.

The Apple patent application is:

Parking & Location Management Processes & Alerts
Invented by Casey Maureen Dougherty
Assigned to Apple Inc.
US Patent Application 20100017118
Published January 21, 2010
Filed: July 16, 2008

Abstract

Aspects include using present location information for a mobile device and real-time access to sources of data about future constraints pertaining to the present location to establish the occurrence of a future event.

Examples include:

  • Using a present location of the mobile device to infer a vehicle location,
  • Accessing a source of data relating to parking regulations at the present location and setting a reminder for avoiding violation thereof.

The mobile device can track a present position and adjust an absolute reminder time to account for travel times. The travel times can be arrived at by obtaining data concerning public transportation schedules and present locations of elements of such public transportation. Another example aspect includes correlating a user profile concerning parking requirements with a desired destination area and parking regulations pertinent to the area for guiding a user to potential parking locations.

In addition to providing information about parking locations and costs and real time information about parking regulations for those locations, the service described in the patent filing also can help you time how long you’ve parked at a spot and give you an alert to keep you from getting a parking ticket.

More than that, this system can be used as part of a larger travel planning process, including helping you determine how long it might take you to walk from your parking location, or to take public transportation from that location.

This system could include tracking and locating “buses, light rails, and trolleys, cable cars, or any other type of conveyance available for public use.” If taxi companies wanted to include present positions for unoccupied cabs on duty, those could be included as well. Why track and include transit locations? Here’s what the patent filing tells us:

Likewise, for planning purposes a transit schedule can be useful, but more pragmatically, more current information is often required to allow comfortable transitions between different modes of transportation. For example, if a person has to wait 15 minutes for a late bus for a 45 minute trip, then waiting consumed 1/3 of the entire trip time.

Also, such transit vehicles increasingly have GPS position equipment to sense their positions, which can be sent to a database for tracking, provided that the transit vehicles also have network transmission capabilities, such as a provisioned wireless network, which can include a wireless local area network, or another suitable technology.

A few days ago, Businessweek ran an interesting article, Apple vs. Google, with the subtitle “How the battle between Silicon Valley’s superstars will shape the future of mobile computing.”

When it comes to providing location awareness type information to people using mobile devices, it may shape up to be hard hitting battle, with even Yahoo getting into the fray if they add features to their Yahoo Maps service, like the real time parking process described in their recent patent filing.

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14 thoughts on “Apple vs. Google vs. Yahoo on Location Awareness and Parking”

  1. Its a Good idea to know the car “Using a present location of the mobile device to infer a vehicle location”. Sending free latest updates regarding parking slots and traffic information through mobile phones will really help most of the people. thanks for the updates.

  2. Like Williams, I agree that this will be a big help to most of the people. No more wasted time searching for parking lots and/or waiting for a bus to arrive and most importantly less parking tickets. Really Great!

  3. It is unbelievably exciting to see whats the future is holding for us.

    I just love technology, and love the way google is using their power.

    Great Post!
    I dug it

  4. Hi williams,

    You’re welcome. The real time search aspect of this process is pretty intriguing. There’s a lot to like in this process: knowing where you can park, how much it costs, what the regulations are for those parking spots, and what the present schedules of nearby public transportation might be.

    When you’re visiting someplace for the first time, and you don’t know much about the area around it, things like parking can become very important and often very frustrating. It’s interesting to see some serious thought and energy going into helping people solve these problems.

  5. Hi Andrew,

    I really do like the part of this that might help you find out if a bus or train has been delayed. I’m just hoping that this doesn’t mean that we will start seeing more people trying to drive through city streets while simultaneously attempting to find parking spaces on their phones. :)

  6. Hi Guy,

    Thanks for the Digg. This isn’t just Google trying to use technology to make our lives more convenient. It’s going to be interesting to see if Apple and Google and Yahoo all move forward with this kind of technology. It will be an interesting future.

  7. The fight of the three giants! well I think in case of this rivalry the customers will get its advantage! Nice and interesting post BTW.

  8. Well, me too I love how Google is using technology to better our lives!!!
    thanks for the interesting post!

  9. The one that is going to win is the one who provides the best content. Nowaydays you cannot trust 100% of the content Google provides, sometime sthe data is outdated or even doesn’t exist. I hope they can fix this issue.

  10. Hi Victor,

    There are problems with the mapping information that Google provides, but I’ve seen that from other mapping sources too. Bad addresses, incomplete and hard-to-follow directions, reviews for one business listed under another business. Trying to provide complete and correct information is an incredible task. Hopefully the companies like Google and Yahoo and Apple trying to provide this kind of information get better at it.

  11. Just found this post and what a great read, even though Yahoo is a contender here, it will be interesting to see whether or not Microsoft may try and do something with Yahoo on this – especially when the Yahoo/Bing deal goes through!

  12. Hi Dave,

    Thanks. Interesting point.

    Microsoft hasn’t been ignoring mapping programs either. I’m wondering of Yahoo Local will remain with Yahoo. I guess we have no choice, but to wait and see.

  13. i’m not sure yahoo is that great a contender and I am totally unconvinced by Bing. Bing just don’t seem to have been geared up for the search engine business at all!

  14. Hi Michael,

    Yahoo is still one of the most visited sites on the Web, and they do provide a lot of services that people seem to want, but they haven’t had much success as a competitor to Google in search.

    Bing has been improving their search offerings over the past few years, but they face a considerable challenge with Google as well. I like the idea of competition, and I hope they do “gear up” to provide a reasonable alternative to Google. Doing so will keep Google innovating in the future.

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