Apple Maps vans to begin collecting data in France, Sweden in August

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The Apple Maps vans currently on reconnaissance trips to collect street-level data will be coming to France and Sweden for the first time in August, in addition to touring areas in the U.S., England, and Ireland, Apple revealed on Monday.

Vehicles surveying France will initially be touring regions around Paris and the Ile-de-France, such as Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne, the company's website indicated. Swedish vans will be visiting multiple regions in Stockholm County, as well as the city of Malmo.

In the U.S. Apple will be touring numerous cities and counties, spread across states such as California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and Washington.

So far, the exact purpose for the new data is unknown beyond it being used in future versions of Maps. Some have speculated Apple is preparing to offer its own equivalent to Street View, a popular feature of Google Maps that lets users see 360-degree, eye-level previews of many locations. It's also possible the data could be used to improve the 3D Flyover feature.

Apple Maps will receive a major update in this fall's iOS 9, with features like en-route traffic avoidance and the return of public transit directions. Any Street View-like option is unlikely to be included however, unless Apple is preparing a later surprise announcement and can build out image databases in a short amount of time. The company does sometimes make such announcements, for instance if a planned feature is dependent on unreleased hardware.