Apple adds another mapping startup to the collection: Embark

Apple adds another mapping startup to the collection: Embark

Summary: Apple must be stockpiling mapping app startups now.


Apple is revealing just how serious it is about improving its mobile mapping platform with its third acquisition in weeks.

According to former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin, the latest target is Embark, a mobile app development company focusing on mass transit maps, directions, and alerts in real-time.

Embark currently has 10 apps available for iOS devices, covering public transportion networks in New York, New Jersey, Long Island, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Financial terms of the deal are still unknown, and Apple itself has yet to confirm the acquisition.

Regardless, all signs point toward a very serious and possibly dramatic overhaul for the iOS mapping platform.

To recall, Apple Maps presented one of the more public mishaps in the current Tim Cook era. Arguably the iOS 6 app was rushed out far before it was ready given the magnitude of reports about frequently incorrect directions.

The situation became so messy and infuriated users to the point that it prompted an apology from the CEO and even nods to other digital mapping services (see: Google Maps) given front door space on iTunes.

One of the quick fix efforts included hiring a crack team of new developers last fall, and the app is said to have improved somewhat since then based on industry reports.

In July alone, reports swirled when Apple bought up big data and mapping firm Locationary along with another mass transit mapping and directions platform, HopStop.

In fact, while it has yet to rival the shopping spree over at Yahoo, Apple has been stockpiling startups lately.

For example earlier in August, Lessin reported that Apple picked up Oakland-based chip maker Passif, possibly for future wearable technology designs.

Note: We pinged Apple PR for comment, and we will update this post when we hear back.

Image via Embark

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPhone, Web development

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  • Ha

    Still cannot beat Google Maps! These investments are going to break them if they're not careful!
    • Let's see what the terms are.

      I doubt Apple paid more than low 8 figures (i.e. chump change). Apple's acqui-hires are usually low dollar focusing on technology or talent it feels it can utilize. Apple maps desperately needs improved public transit tools, and it looks like they just picked some up.

      The fact is that Apple maps never has to "beat" Google maps. Yes, Apple wants their maps app to be good, but Google is the company that's in the position of HAVING to beat Apple maps. Apple doesn't make money of its maps app, but that user data is lucrative to Google. Any user that abandons Google maps for Apple maps represents a loss of valuable data.
      • I tend to agree

        I'm finding Google more and more frustrating. They've closed a lot of good services and made them a Google+ service which I'm not interested in. The latest change to google maps is brutal and I'v been using service like Open Cycle maps more and more. I'm basically running an Apple ecosystem at home today and love how everything communicates together but has an interface that makes sense to the hardware. I'm very receptive to Apple improving their map offering.

        Oh and one more thing. I'm from Canada and I find Google Maps in Canada out of date. I find Google seems to forget about us.