Secret Apple app lets you map out building interiors using your iPhone

By , Nov 2, 2015

Apple Indoor Survey 1.0 for iOS iTunes listing Mac screenshot 001

Apple has a secret app in the App Store which allows some iPhone users to map the interior of a building using their handset. First discovered yesterday by developer Steve Troughton-Smith, an app called Indoor Survey has been available on the App Store since last week.

The software is currently hidden in the App Store and is not operational, suggesting that the official launch is around the corner.

Basically a funnel for Apple’s MapsConnect website, the app appears to act as a crowdsourced Ground Truth service aimed at improving the accuracy of Apple Maps data when it comes to indoor maps.

Logging in to MapsConnect with my Apple ID put up an introductory message providing more details on Apple’s new indoor positioning technology.

“We have received an overwhelming response on this service and we are prioritizing our efforts to focus on venues with the following attributes,” Apple writes:

  • Accessible to the general public
  • Annual visitors in excess of 1 million per year
  • Availability of complete, accurate, and scaled reference maps
  • Enabled with Wi-Fi throughout
  • Associated app is authorized by venue owner

Apple’s description of Indoor Survey states that the app allows users to drop ”points” on a map to indicate the user’s position within the venue as they walk through.

”As you do so, the app measures the radio frequency signal data and combines it with the iPhone’s sensor data,” reads the description. The end result is indoor positioning without the need to install special hardware, like inexpensive iBeacon transmitters.

Apple MapsConnect web screenshot 001

The app may stem from Apple’s $20 million purchase of WiFiSlam back in 2013, a location startup that used WiFi signals to detect a user’s location within a building.

Indoor positioning in Apple Maps is currently available for a few locations like the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Some Twitter users claim that you have to be an approved public venue representative to participate in this project, meaning the app may not work with your Apple ID.

Also keep in mind that Indoor Survey is currently available in select markets, is hidden in the App Store search and appears non-functional, though it’s easily accessible via a direct link.

Availability

Indoor Survey requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with iOS 9.0 or later and is localized in English, Chinese and Japanese.

Download Indoor Survey at no charge in the App Store.

Source: Steve Troughton-Smith via AppleInsider

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  • InfinitePlusOne

    Not secret anymore

    • Briggamortis

      Beat me to it!

  • Sohail Wahab

    Google already did it, I love everything about apple except AppleMaps

  • InfinitePlusOne

    It’s free

    • ready1take1

      okay, other than the price?

      • Franklin Richards

        I think it’s part of their plan to map out interior of points of interests like shopping centres. So that we as consumers are able to get maps of shopping centre on Apple Maps. I don’t think the app is intended for consumer use more enterprise use.

      • ready1take1

        gotcha, thanks

  • Harry Roberts

    So this and all of the other stories about this app are horribly incorrect about what the app will do. Most, if not all, of the headlines say something like “Apple’s Indoor Survey App Creates Building Interior Maps Using an iPhone” or like this article says… “Secret Apple app lets you map out building interiors using your iPhone.” Uh… NOPE. First of all, and in Apple’s own words, participating venues must provide “complete, accurate, and scaled reference maps.” What? Oh… so a detailed map already exists and is required for participation. So creating a map when a detailed map already exists would be stupid at best. Secondly…. how can you “drop a pin on a map” when the map doesn’t exist because you are… in the process of mapping it out???” Huh? Oh… you can’t drop a pin on a map that does’t exist. But you can drop a pin on a map that does exist. That would be the map on your iPhone… the map from the “complete, accurate, and scaled reference maps” that is required by Apple in the first place. So what is being mapped? The answer is “the movement of people” and “the interests of people.” This is done with distribution and density maps of pin drops. This data/information has a lot of value to places that get over one million visitors per year. I also find the “using RF” reference as if it was some voodoo magic to be hilarious. RF simply refers to the SSID signals being broadcast by the wireless routers. The requirement to have “WIFI throughput” means multiple wireless routers that provide complete coverage throughput the facility. They are using the relative signal strength of multiple SSID broadcasts to triangulate in two ways. Overtime as pins are dropped, the relative strengths of the routers are measured just as inSSIDer does. Very quickly, Apple can triangulate on the position of each router. Once the fixed router positions are known and placed on the map, the process can be reversed. This information can be used to assist in tracking your movement on an almost continuous basis (sampling rate of a few seconds)… even if you are not dropping pins…. even without GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, and/or gyro data… your movement can be tracked using triangulation just by looking at the relative SSID signal strengths of routers with known locations. So this is nothing like RoomScan or MagicPlan. This is “how we track people’s movement inside a building that is blocking GPS satellite signals and when the orientation of the mobile device is uncertain.” Well… at least that’s my theory.

    • NotTodayThx

      another tool that will be used by law enforcement, and they make you think your doing some good deed,
      just more social engineering of society so you accept having zero privacy.

      it’s been said that any man who gives up freedom for safety is bound to have and deserves neither.

      and you’re bang on the money when you say that it is mapping ppl, populations, the zombies still stuck in the Matrix will love it, (;

  • NotTodayThx

    there is always one.
    anxious to please, genetic disease…