Apple confirms acquisition of WiFiSlam

Apple's acquisition of Silicon Valley startup WiFiSlam has been confirmed.

Maker of mapping applications for mobile devices WiFiSlam has been acquired by tech giant Apple.

Originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, the deal was quoted based on a "person familiar with the matter." A spokesperson later confirmed the acquisition, saying that Apple "buys smaller technology companies from time to time," but declined to discuss the matter further.

Rumors suggest that the iPad and iPhone maker paid approximately $20 million for the firm, as stated under funding on WiFiSlam's investment page on AngelList. One of WiFiSlam's co-founders is Joseph Huang, a former Google software engineering intern.

The company's product description reads:

"Allow your smartphone to pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.

We are building the next generation of location-based mobile apps that, for the first time, engage with users at the scale that personal interaction actually takes place. Applications range from step-by-step indoor navigation, to product-level retail customer engagement, to proximity-based social networking."

Maps have long been a sore spot for Apple, especially as large tech firms are now scrabbling to offer better map applications for users of their smartphones and tablets. WiFiSlam's indoor GPS tracking could be used to shore up Apple's defense against Google, which already offers indoor mapping for places including airports. Apple's original iOS mapping service met with poor reviews and criticisms over inaccuracy, and after an apology from CEO Tim Cook, the company has strived to improve it.

Google released an independent mapping application for iOS devices in mid-December, and received its first update this month.