August 28, 2013

Apple, Google heat up mapping app arena


Apple makes 3rd mapping app acquisition as Google gives Search and Street View to Waze community

Apple has reportedly acquired mapping app developer Embark, which offers mass transit information of select U.S. cities and is sure to boost real-time navigation features for public transportation to Apple’s Maps app.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Apple said in an emailed statement that it acquires “smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple has been licensing Google maps in its iOS-based devices but is eager to climb back into the smartphone mapping app arena, following the disastrous launch of its own Maps app last year. At the time, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized to customers, urging them to use Bing or Google until its mapping business improved.

But recent acquisitions by Apple, most notably HopStop, also a maker of public transit app, WifiSLAM, an indoor location and mapping firm, and Locationary, offering information on local businesses, show Apple is very serious about competing in the mapping app segment.

Meanwhile, Google Maps has updated its mobile maps app by introducing real-time incident reports for Android and iOS users, following its completed acquisition of social mapping app Waze for just over $1 billion.

The purchase bolstered Google’s top position in the web-based mapping category with its Google Maps app, an increasingly vital component of the smartphone market.

Waze’s traffic app features real-time traffic data provided by its community of nearly 50 million users allowing drivers report things like accidents, cars stopped by the side of the road, construction and road closures in real-time as they drive.

Google has incorporated its powerful search engine into Waze and the Waze Map Editor now includes Google Maps Street View and satellite imagery as tools to make it easier to correct map errors reported by the community.

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