Apple buys startups to improve mobile maps
Apple has bought online mapping services HopStop and Locationary as part of its ongoing effort to create a more formidable alternative to Google's navigation system.
The acquisitions confirmed Friday give Apple Inc. more tools to round out the maps that it embeds in the mobile operating system running its iPhones and iPads. Apple relied on Google Inc. for the built-in maps on those devices until switching to its own system last year.
The switch turned into an embarrassment for Apple when iPhone and iPad users discovered the maps sometimes gave faulty directions and misplaced famous landmarks. Apple CEO Tim Cook ended up apologizing for the gaffes, and recommended iPhone and iPad users rely on Google's maps until improvements could be made.
When Google released a new mapping app for the iPhone late last year, it quickly became one of the most downloaded programs for the device. Google's maps are also widely used on mobile devices running on that company's Android software, as well as through Web browsers on personal computers.
Apple, which is based in Cupertino, California, isn't saying how it plans to deploy its latest acquisition.
"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," company spokesman Kristin Huguet said.
New York-based HopStop provides directions to major transit systems and biking routes, popular features on Google's maps.
Locationary, which is based in Toronto, collects and analyzes data to help create more precise maps.
Terms of the acquisitions weren't disclosed.
Google paid $1.03 billion last month to buy an Israel startup called Waze that relies on social networking to monitor local traffic conditions.