iOS legal disclaimer hints Apple is working on Maps improvements

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The map rumor mill is spinning.

Some digging done today by Arnold Kim at MacRumors.com into Apple’s legal disclaimer for iOS 5 reveals licenses from third-party companies that provide mapping data and services. Could this be evidence that Apple is working on its own mapping solution, despite a renewed partnership with Google Maps?

Apple hasn’t publicly announced any major developments for iOS’s Maps app, but Kim reports that while Apple is obviously developing it’s own mapping solution by hiring folks in location and navigation engineering and buying companies in this arena (VentureBeat reported on Apple’s purchase of mapping company Poly9 in July 2010 and Placebase in September 2009), the iOS5 legal disclaimers have a new section called “Map Data.”

“This entire section is new in iOS 5’s legal section and does not appear to be related to Google’s own mapping data licenses,” writes Kim, who points out that one of the companies listed in the section, Waze, is a Google Maps competitor. He also notes that Google Map’s legal notices are distinct.

Here’s a look at the full legal disclaimer. Note the “© TomTom” and “Neighborhood data © Urban Mapping, 2011.”

Looks like we’ll have to wait and see what this legal disclaimer means when Apple releases iOS 5 this Fall.

Meantime, Google Maps usage Google executives predicted that Google Maps for mobile would surpass 200 million installs by the start of this month. If that target has been reached, mobile devices would account for 40 percent of Maps’ usage.