Apple is opening a development office in Hyderabad, India, that will focus on its Apple Maps product "and create up to 4,000 jobs" in partnership with a company called RMSI.
Apple's release doesn't specify what, exactly, these workers will do for the Maps product. But it wasn't long ago that the idea itself — hiring thousands of human mapping workers — would have seemed like a surprising thing for Apple to do. Now, with a car expected sometime in the next several years, Apple needs its map data and product to be excellent, not just passable.
A 2012 Atlantic article by Alexis Madrigal about Google Maps' incredible precision and detail — often said to be the work of thousands of people in India — might offer some context:
I came away convinced that the geographic data Google has assembled is not likely to be matched by any other company. The secret to this success isn't, as you might expect, Google's facility with data, but rather its willingness to commit humans to combining and cleaning data about the physical world. Google's map offerings build in the human intelligence on the front end, and that's what allows its computers to tell you the best route from San Francisco to Boston.
Apple's announcement is the latest in this week's push into India, where Tim Cook has been visiting and is eyeing as a source of potential growth (paywall). Previously, the company announced a new "Design and Development Accelerator" in Bengaluru, "the home of India’s startup scene."
Update: This post has been updated to note Apple's partnership with RMSI.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.