Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is on a shopping spree with the aim to improve its mapping application. The Cupertino company has recently acquired yet another mapping and navigation company, which as per calculations is the third company in last two months. Jessica Lessin says that the company has recently purchased Embark Inc., which is a small Silicon Valley startup that develops free transit apps on iOS and Android platforms to help users navigate public transportation. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hasn’t disclosed the price tag for Embark Inc., but it looks like the company is planning to directly integrate Embark’s technology and experience into Apple Maps.
An Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) spokeswoman confirmed the acquisition and said “Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” The spokeswoman didn’t disclosed any other details like the availability of the Android apps. Embark currently has 10 different iOS apps based on transit systems and regions in the App Store.
This is not the first mapping and navigation company that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) purchased. The Cuptertino company acquired two mapping companies – Locationary, and HopStop. Of these two, HopStop seems interesting as it provides transit directions, maps, schedules and nearby station details to users.
Apple finally wants to build an improved Maps system
So why is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) so interested in purchasing these apps? Has the company got lots of cash in its hand? Yes, it does but it appears from all these acquisitions that Apple finally wants to build an improved Maps system – one that doesn’t gets bashed by its users. As we know, when the company introduced its native Maps in 2012 with iOS 6, Apple was highly criticized to launch a half-baked app which had no comparison with Google Maps. Apple removed Google Maps and instead, introduced its own Maps app, but the app was no better than Google Maps.
For now, it looks like we can see improved Maps app with the release of iOS 8 next year. With data, engineers, and experience from companies like WiFiSLAM, Locationary, HopStop, and now Embark, perhaps the company can build something that gives Google Maps a run for its money. It would be interesting to see the next version of Maps app on iOS 8.