As Apple continues their quest to improve the built-in Maps app in iOS, following it’s rather poorly-received launch alongside iOS 6, the company has acquired mass transit navigation company Embark to assist them in the process. Embark currently has a set of 10 apps on the App Store, each customized to help users navigate the public transit systems in different major cities.
Former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica E. Lessin reports:
Apple Inc. keeps snapping up mapping companies.
The latest: Embark Inc., a small Silicon Valley upstart that builds free transit apps to help smartphone users navigate public transportation.
We don’t know how much Apple paid for the several-person team it acquired very recently. But we heard from people knowledgeable about the deal that the company plans to directly integrate Embark’s technology into Apple Maps.
Embark, founded in 2011, builds apps for mobile devices powered by Android and Apple’s iOS with information about transit systems in about half a dozen U.S. cities such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Its iOS apps are still available for download, but its Android apps aren’t, according to our checks.
The lack of public transit directions has been one of the key weaknesses of Apple’s Maps app since it first launched, as opposed to Google Maps, which has had the feature for many years. The acquisition of Embark marks Apple’s third mapping-related in recent months, following last month’s acquisitions of both HopStop and Locationary, and does well in demonstrating Apple’s continued commitment to improving the quality and function of Maps on iOS devices.
Apple’s move to acquire Embark is particularly interesting given Apple’s prior comments about bringing public transit navigation features to Apple Maps. Apple has already officially confirmed the acquisition, and will likely begin the process of integrating public transit features into Apple Maps sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, feel free to snap up Embark’s current iOS apps for free before Apple yanks them from the App Store for good!
- Embark (App Store developer link)